You met Greg Hicks earlier. He's the career State Department official whose "jaw hit the floor" when Susan Rice went the 'Full Ginsburg' to spread bogus talking points in the immediate wake of the 9/11 Benghazi attacks. If you thought exposing and debunking the administration's initial dishonest spin was the biggest bombshell Hicks was preparing to drop on Wednesday, you'd be wrong. CBS News reports:
The deputy of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens has told congressional investigators that a team of Special Forces prepared to fly from Tripoli to Benghazi during the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks was forbidden from doing so by U.S. Special Operations Command South Africa. The account from Gregory Hicks is in stark contrast to assertions from the Obama administration, which insisted that nobody was ever told to stand down and that all available resources were utilized. Hicks gave private testimony to congressional investigators last month in advance of his upcoming appearance at a congressional hearing Wednesday. According to excerpts released Monday, Hicks told investigators that SOCAFRICA commander Lt. Col. Gibson and his team were on their way to board a C-130 from Tripoli for Benghazi prior to an attack on a second U.S. compound "when [Col. Gibson] got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, 'you can't go now, you don't have the authority to go now.' And so they missed the flight ... They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it." No assistance arrived from the U.S. military outside of Libya during the hours that Americans were under attack or trapped inside compounds by hostile forces armed with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and AK-47 rifles. Hicks told congressional investigators that if the U.S. had quickly sent a military aircraft over Benghazi, it might have saved American lives. The U.S. Souda Bay Naval Base is an hour's flight from Libya.
This explosive testimony -- which will play out under the bright lights later this week -- corroborates earlier allegations that support teams were repeatedly instructed to get ready, then to stand down, throughout the eight-hour slaughter. The Obama administration has claimed they deployed "all available resources" during the attack, an account that does not align with several pieces of countervailing evidence:
(1) We've just learned from another whistle-blower (Mark Thompson) that Secretary Clinton actively cut the State Department's counter-terrorism bureau out of the loop during the terrorist attack. (Why?) CBS News reported last November that the Obama administration also didn't convene the inter-agency Counter-terrorism Security Group (CSG) during the raid. Gen. Dempsey has asserted that the State Department never requested any military assistance from DoD that night. Might that have been because Clinton and the White House were already committed to a political posture of downplaying the terrorism angle?
(2) A separate unnamed whistle-blower says an elite US task force training in Croatia could have arrived prior to the latter stages of the siege, during which Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were murdered. (Remember, Doherty and Woods responded to the consulate attack on their own initiative).
(3) The US had unmanned predator drones hovering overhead throughout much of the attack. One Democratic Senator couldn't or wouldn't say whether those drones were armed.
(4) CBS News, in late October:
The Pentagon says it did move a team of special operators from central Europe to the large Naval Air Station in Sigonella, Italy, but gave no other details. Sigonella is just an hour's flight from Libya. Other nearby bases include Aviano and Souda Bay. Military sources tell CBS News that resources at the three bases include fighter jets and Specter AC-130 gunships, which the sources say can be extremely effective in flying in and buzzing a crowd to disperse it..."You find a way to make this happen," Berntsen says. "There isn't a plan for every single engagement. Sometimes you have to be able to make adjustments. They made zero adjustments in this. They stood and they watched and our people died."
(5) Then there is today's aforementioned revelation from Hicks. Taken together, this information points to a scenario in which the Washington-based chain of command declined to exercise several contingencies that could have saved American lives. Let's recall what Gen. Dempsey told Sen. Lindsey Graham in Congressional testimony two months ago:
GRAHAM: My question is, did anybody leave any base anywhere to go to the aid of the people who were under attack in Benghazi, Libya before the attack ended.
DEMPSEY: No, because the attack ended before we could get off the ground.
Hicks will reportedly also tell Congress that special forces reinforcements were urgently needed in Benghazi, in light of the US diplomatic mission's "bare minimum" security capacity. That threadbare security presence is a scandal in and of itself; terrorists had launched escalating attacks one numerous Western targets in Benghazi in the weeks and months leading up to September 11, including two attempts against the US consulate. Four gravestones offer a clear justification for Amb. Stevens' numerous requests for more resources; far less apparent are the reasons why those petitions were summarily denied. I'll leave you with White House spokesman Jay Carney ducking questions on these new developments earlier today:
Shorter Carney: Take your beef up with the Pentagon (who is the Commander-in-Chief, again -- and isn't embassy/consulate security within the Secretary of State's purview?), and kindly refer to our internal investigation (which is now being investigated by an Inspector General for ignoring evidence from whistle-blowers like the men coming forward this week).
UPDATE - On a related note, guess where Al Qaeda's new (unofficial, of course) Northern African regional "headquarters" is?