The Benghazi Orders

I see much activity from pundits and questioners demanding to know what orders President Obama gave regarding the attack on the Benghazi consulate, which apprently he was tracking within a half-hour or so after it began.

In fact, Obama already detailed this list of orders, in Presidential Debate #2:

So as soon as we found out that the Benghazi consulate was being overrun, I was on the phone with my national security team, and I gave them three instructions:

  • Number one, beef up our security and — and — and procedures not just in Libya but every embassy and consulate in the region. 
  • Number two, investigate exactly what happened, regardless of where the facts lead us, to make sure that folks are held accountable and it doesn’t happen again. 
  • And number three, we are going to find out who did this, and we are going to hunt them down, because one of the things that I’ve said throughout my presidency is when folks mess with Americans, we go after them.

Note the present tense “was being overrun.” In other words, despite the fact that the attack was still under way, and we had resources in the area (including people one mile away), and he could see that the consulate staff was still under attack, his orders (based on his own statement here) amounted to “let them die, and we’ll figure something out for next time.” None of the three orders he says he gave had anything to do with saving the people in our consulate under attack.

And despite the president’s initial assertions that this was a spontaneous “mob” (his word) protesting the video, the official CIA timeline shows that he knew which al Qaida group had mounted the attack no later than a few hours after it began:

“1:15 a.m.: CIA reinforcements arrive on a 45-minute flight from Tripoli in a plane they’ve hastily chartered. The Tripoli team includes four GRS security officers, a CIA case officer and two U.S. military personnel who are on loan to the agency. They don’t leave Benghazi airport until 4:30. The delay is caused by negotiations with Libyan authorities over permission to leave the airport, obtaining vehicles, and the need to frame a clear mission plan. The first idea is to go to a Benghazi hospital to recover Stevens, who they correctly suspect is already dead. But the hospital is surrounded by the Al Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Shariah militia that mounted the consulate attack.”

In this post, Melvin_Udall has a video about the timing (and incidentally, happy birthday Melvin_Udall). The upshot: President Obama knew of the attacks in time to save at least some of the four who were ultimately killed.  But there is a curiosity here: If help was told to “stand down” (as Panetta seemed to confirm during an early conference, in which he said that he would not send people into an unknown situation), then the “CIA reinforcements” above would also seem to have disobeyed that order.  I’d like to see that conflict resolved.

But I am actually more concerned about the now-forgotten Fast and Furious operation, during which the Obama administration coordinated among multiple agencies (DOJ, ATF, FBI) to put Americans at risk and increase killings in Mexico in order to provide political support for gun control — over the objections of many agents. When those agents complained, they were told that they should consider this activity should be “fun” and in fact “the most fun you have with ATF.”

Perhaps it is not quite as fun now.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle