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The Cowards Need to Answer on Benghazi

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Muammar Gaddafi ruled the Arab nation of Libya from September of 1969 to October of 2011.  He was the eccentric bad boy of North Africa until being overthrown and assassinated by rebel citizens of Libya, with help and encouragement from the United States.  The new Libyan government is generally friendly to the West, but it has yet to gain control of most of its own territory beyond the capital city of Tripoli.

Christopher Stevens was very familiar with Libya, having served two tours in the country including a role as Special Representative to the National Transitional Council during the Libyan revolution in 2011.  Stevens took his post in Tripoli as U.S. Ambassador to Libya in May of this year.

On the evening of September 11, Stevens met with the Turkish Consul General in the east Libyan city of Benghazi.  The session was held from 7:30PM to 8:30PM at a minimally guarded compound that Stevens had himself acquired as an appropriate office for the National Transitional Council the year before.  The converted residence and outlying buildings behind the perimeter wall were now serving as a remote office and hostel for the primary embassy in Tripoli, some 400 miles to the west.  The Benghazi “consulate” also provided cover for the nearby covert CIA “annex” that monitored local Islamist militant operations.

The most powerful of those local Islamist militant groups is Ansar al-Shariah, which wields more control over the Benghazi area than does the Libyan government.  Ansar al-Shariah is a remnant of the well-armed civilian rebels who ousted Muammar Gaddafi one year ago.  At 8:00PM, during the meeting between Ambassador Stevens and the Turkish Consul General, about 150 members of Ansar al-Shariah began the process of isolating the compound with roadblocks enforced by truck-mounted machine guns.  A nearby resident described to an Associated Press reporter that, "It felt like our neighborhood was occupied.  No one could get out or in."

Ambassador Stevens escorted the Turkish Consul General to the perimeter gate at 8:30PM.  The Consul General drove away apparently unimpeded by the Ansar al-Shariah roadblocks.  At 9:40PM, seven Americans were in the compound when it was attacked.  The five American diplomatic security agents assigned to the consulate used small arms against the overwhelming assault by Ansar al-Shariah fighters.  Agent David Ubben quickly ushered Ambassador Stevens and Information Management Officer Sean Smith to a cagedsafe room inside the residence building.

Frustrated by the locked metal bars, Ansar al-Shariah fighters doused the residence building with diesel fuel and set it ablaze.  While fighting off the assault from three buildings, the security agents alerted Washington and called for help from the Tripoli embassy, local Libyan military support, and the CIA “annex” intelligence operation.  A U.S. Predator drone was immediately reassigned to observe the events from above.  The drone arrived overhead at 11:11PM.  Within the first hour of the assault, six Americans security agents supported by sixteen Libyan militants from the CIA annex arrive at the compound to engage the Ansar al-Shariah fighters.

With the Libyan militants forming a protective perimeter around the residence, the American security agents heroically crawled through the burning building in an attempt to rescue the Ambassador and his Information Management Officer.  Sean Smith is discovered dead, but Christopher Stevens could not be found.  As the militants’ perimeter collapsed, the American agents fled towards the annex one mile away through a hail of gunfire and explosions.

In a bullet-ridden car on two flat tires, the Americans made their way through the obstacles set up by Ansar al-Shariah.  While they carried the body of Information Management Officer Sean Smith, the whereabouts of Ambassador Stevens remained unknown.  The Ansar al-Shariah fighters followed the Americans to the CIA annex compound where some American agents took positions on the roofs.  The CIA facility is attacked sporadically with gun fire and a rocket propelled grenade until about 1:00AM when the fighting seems to end.

The CIA is, of course, an intelligence agency first.  Its stated mission is to be “an independent US Government agency responsible for providing national security intelligence to senior US policymakers.”  While this critical and focused organization does take appropriate measures to defend its employees and expeditions, the CIA is not a heavily armed branch of the military with  rapid response teams equipped to take on a battery of 150 militant fighters.

But the one organization that did respond with reinforcements was the CIA.  A “hastily chartered aircraft” leaves Tripoli after midnight carrying a CIA case officer who is accompanied by four contract security personnel and two American military personnel.  They arrive at Benghazi International Airport at 1:15AM, but do not depart for the CIA annex until 4:30AM.  According to the published CIA timeline, “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.”

When the Tripoli team finally arrives at the annex, it is 5:00AM.  While there has been no weapon fire for four hours, the Ansar al-Shariah fighters have taken advantage of the lull to position rifles and mortars.  The attack resumes and former Navy Seals Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods are killed in their positions on the roof by well-placed mortars.  By 5:26AM, the battle ends.  Thirty-five minutes later, according to the CIA timeline, “Libyan forces from the military intelligence service finally arrive, now with 50 vehicles. They escort the Americans to the airport. A first group of 18, including two wounded, depart at 7 a.m. A second group of 12, plus the four dead, leave at 10 a.m. for Tripoli and then the long flight back to America.”

Ambassador Christopher Stevens had been found dead around 1:00AM by locals who sought to loot the embassy compound.  Thinking he may yet be alive, they drove him to a medical center where doctors tried unsuccessfully to revive him from the effects of smoke asphyxiation.

Having been subjected to weeks of YouTube video apologetics and obfuscation, the American electorate naturally has questions for the Commander-In-Chief.  Why was the site security team removed from Benghazi one month before the attack, in conflict with expert advice and requests?  Why would the Ambassador to Libya be meeting with the Consul General of Turkey?  Why was there no U.S. military response to an attack on American assets, including the assassination of a United States ambassador?  Why was America treated to such a hard-sell explanation of a YouTube video?  Why is the filmmaker in jail?  Why did the State Department produce a television ad about the YouTube video that was broadcast in Pakistan?

I can surmise three possible explanations, having received mountains of information and speculation:

Theory 1. There actually was reason to believe initially that the attack on the Benghazi consulate was motivated by anger at the YouTube video.  CIA Director David Petraeus briefed members of Congress on September 14 that the YouTube video incited mob action against the Benghazi facility.  Earlier on September 11, a mob had indeed stormed the U.S. Embassy in nearby Egypt.  Americans heard little of that event because the Cairo embassy is built like a fortress and no Americans were hurt.  The Washington Times reported that a witness in Benghazi “saw the militants gathering around 20 youths from nearby to chant against the film.”  While the Administration has since learned the truth, they have simply been stalling the revelation of more accurate information in the face of an intense re-election campaign.

Theory 2. Ambassador Stevens was set up for assassination.  In this scenario, the Benghazi consulate is actually a front for the CIA annex which is gathering weapons left over from the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.  Those weapons are being shipped to Turkey in order to supply Syrian rebels in their quest to effect the same fate for President Bashar al-Assad.  Fox News has reported on the initial shipment to the port town of Iskenderun, Turkey, a scant 25 miles from the Syrian border.  The theory here is that the Turkish General Consul lured Stevens to Benghazi for a late-day meeting where they knew of the relatively small security force in place to protect him.  The timing of September 11 was important for using the YouTube video as a ready-made cover story.  The complicity of the Obama Administration is reflected in the lack of a military response and the hard campaigning of the YouTube video to the American people.

Theory 3. The Obama Administration and the Clinton State Department are incompetent actors who prefer dreams of a utopian world over the harsh reality of extremists who take joy in killing.  They assume the best about our enemies and the worst about patriotic Americans.  When realizing that our facilities and people were under attack, the community organizer found himself frighteningly in the position of Commander In Chief.  Barack Obama brags about the killing of Osama Bin Laden on the campaign trail.  But we have all heard the rumors that Leon Panetta and Hillary Clinton presented the President with the OBL mission only after it was well underway.  They reportedly excluded White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett who is rumored to have stood in the way of previous opportunities to get Bin Laden.

The reason that imaginations and rumors are finding believers is because Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are not being transparent.  The President continues to avoid providing clarity to the American people.  Nearly two months after the incident, Barack Obama continues to repeat the pretense that “we’re going to do an investigation.”

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