- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 1, 2014

An Air Force brigadier general who was running intelligence at the U.S. African command the night of the Benghazi attacks said Thursday they knew immediately that the assault was not a response to an anti-Islamic video, and said that the White House either wasn’t in the know or else was distorting that information.

Retired Brig. Gen. Robert Lovell also told the House Oversight Committee that the decision not to respond with military action was likely have been made outside of the Defense Department. He said the military should have tried to mount an operation because there was no knowing how long the attack would last or whether it would expand.

“Go, go, go,” the general said.

He said the military was waiting on a request from the State Department — a request that never came.

“Basically, there was a lot of looking to the State Department for what they wanted and the deference to the Libyan people and the sense of deference to the desires of the State Department in terms of what they would like to have,” the general testified.

The White House and President Obama, in the middle of a re-election campaign, initially said the attack that left four Americans dead was a response to an anti-Islam film.

Since then they have acknowledged it was a terrorist attack.

The Defense Department has maintained it did not have assets available to respond quickly enough to make a difference on the night of the attacks. Some units were ordered to get ready to deploy to Tripoli, the country’s capital.

Under questioning from Rep. Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat, Gen. Lovell acknowledged that those efforts did happen. He said his message was that the military should have been better prepared, not that it didn’t try at all.

“My point is that there’s more that we should be able to do,” the general said. He said the problem wasn’t with the military, but that the interagency communication and interaction broke down.

But House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon said Gen. Lovell’s role didn’t give him “reliable insight” into the scope of options available to commanders.

“The Armed Services Committee has interviewed more than a dozen witnesses in the operational chain of command that night, yielding thousands of pages of transcripts, e-mails, and other documents. We have no evidence that Department of State officials delayed the decision to deploy what few resources DoD had available to respond,” Mr. McKeon said in a statement.

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