Brig. Gen. Robert Lovell
AFRICOM Commander General Carter Ham was the commander but he was in Washington, D.C. Ham said he retained command because of the communications capabilities he had there, but that Vice Admiral Leidig was at AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, was "on-site," and had the experience to make decisions.
Also on-site with Leidig was General Lovell, who was "running intelligence." Lovell testified yesterday, May 1, 2014 before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee. That testimony is several paragraphs below. McKeon thinks Lovell doesn't know what he's talking about.
Meanwhile at the White House, former NSA spokesman Tommy Vietor told Brett Baier last night that he was in the White House Situation Room as the hell broke loose in Benghazi, and throughout the night. Speaking of "commands," the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military didn't show up -- not even once, the entire night and morning that men were dying and gravely injured Americans were being rescued and evacuated.
Not only was Obama not in the Situation Room, he was apparently not in his office either as Vietor said this:
I don’t have a tracking device on him in the residence. Read more here.
No one would refer to the Oval Office as "the residence." September 12, 2012 was an early morning for Obama -- Vegas Baby!
Vegas, of all places, while the crisis is still unfolding and before we've even fully notified the families of the Americans who died. Source: Breitbart
Rep. Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee refuted Lovell's testimony, saying Lovell did not have "reliable insight."
Lovell said that the U.S. should have tried to do more to save the lives of American citizens the night of 9-11-12, but Lovell also suggested that some of the 'doing' should have been done before the attacks happened, and that at the time of the attacks, we should have been better prepared. "My point is that there's more that we should be able to do," he said.
General Carter Ham believed Leidig knew what was going on, but McKeon thinks Lovell, who was with Leidig didn't have "reliable insight."
Use this space to curse.
Gregory Hicks testified that orders were given to "stand down, which some believe gained him a demotion and a unwanted desk job.
Hicks, testifying on May 8, 2013 before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and was asked by Congresswoman Martha Roby:
You believed help was needed in Benghazi, and there was a SOF unit, Special Operation unit, ordered to stand down, correct?"
Hick replied "Yes."
Roby asked: "Do you agree that you and your team were ordered to, quote, "stand down"?"
Colonel Gibson answered Roby's question:
Madam Chairman, I was not ordered to stand down. I was ordered to remain in place. "Stand down" implies that we cease all operations, cease all activities. We continued to support the team that was in Tripoli. We continued to maintain visibility of the events as they unfolded.
As so often happens in Washington, D.C., it all depends on what the meaning of is is.
The U.S. Senate investigative report said that a "40-man Special Ops force was transferred from the military's European command to General Ham, in the middle of the attack, from its training location in Croatia, but was ordered to return to Italy. That's as far as it went. The SpecOps force was not called-in.
General Ham, in charge of AFRICOM, did not know a CIA annex was located in Benghazi. He knew about the consulate or Special Mission, but the Senate report said he didn't know about the Annex.
Making full circle, the following are partial transcripts from several videos of Lovell today. I'm not sure of the order in which these remarks were made.
First video below:
CHAFFETZ: What was going on in the room General? Our people are under attack. There are people dying. What is the military doing? [Vice Admiral Leidig was also present].
LOVELL: Desperately trying to gain situational awareness in an area where we had a dearth of it.
CHAFFETZ: Were they moving to the sound of the guns? Were they doing what they were trained to do or where they sitting around waiting for the State Department and Hillary Clinton to call them up and say 'do something?' What did they actually do?
LOVELL: We sent a predator drone overhead to be able to...
CHAFFETZ: Did we do enough, General?
CHAFFETZ: You're a professional. You're retired. I know you care deeply about this. What was the mood in the room. What was the feeling? Was it to save our people?
LOVELL: It was desperation there, to be able to...
CHAFFETZ: It was what?
LOVELL: It was desperation there to gain situational awareness and to be able to do something to save people.
Chaffetz asks if other forces in Europe were called in.
LOVELL: No sir, those assets did not.
CHAFFETZ: Why not?
LOVELL: Basically, there's a lot of looking to the State Department for what it was that they wanted, and in deference to the Libyan people and a sense of deference to the desires of the State Department, in terms of what they'd like to have.
Remember that we are told that SpecOps forces were transferred from the European Command to General Carter Ham in the middle of the attacks. At some point they were sent to Italy.
CHAFFETZ: Did they ever tell you to go save the people in Benghazi?
LOVELL: Not to my knowledge, sir.
CHAFFETZ: We didn't run to the sound of the guns. They were issuing press releases. We had Americans dying. We had dead people. We had wounded people, and our military didn't try to engage in that fight. Would you disagree with that?
LOVELL: Four individuals died, sir; we obviously did not respond in time to get there.
CHAFFETZ: Could we have?
LOVELL: We may have been able to, but we'll never know.
In another exchange with Rep. Darrell Issa today at the same hearing:
ISSA: In the hours that ensued after the attack on our consulate compound in Benghazi, did you hear 'YouTube video?'
LOVELL: Briefly discussed, but not from any serious standpoint.
ISSA: What time did you hear that there was a video, roughly?
LOVELL: It was early on in the evening of September 11th.
ISSA: Before 3:15 in the morning?
LOVELL: Yes, absolutely. We were -- absolutely. I would have to say, dismissed that notion by then, by working with other sources.
ISSA: You heard about this early on and you, as the Deputy and the highest ranking person that moment, working these issues, you dismissed the idea that this attack was, in fact, a demonstration that went awry, and it was based on a YouTube video out of Los Angeles?
LOVELL: Yes sir, short answer.
LOVELL: As another saying goes, "always move to the sound of the guns." We didn't know how long this would last when we became aware of the distress, nor did we completely understand what we had in front of us. We had a kidnapping, rescue, recovery, protracted hostile engagement, or any or all of the above, but what we did know quite early on was this was a hostile action. This was no demonstration gone terribly awry.
To the point of what happened, the facts led to the conclusion of a terrorist attack. The AFRICOM J2 was focused on attribution. The facts became attributable very soon after the event.
A fourth video but from the same hearing:
CHAFFETZ: General, if I can recognize myself for 5 minutes, I want to conclude the thought from Congresswoman [inaudible]. I know you care deeply about our military families, you are one. We have parents, loved ones, brothers, sisters. What would you say to the mother of one of the people that was killed? Did we, did the military, the Pentagon, the United States of America, do everything it could to save those people?
LOVELL: I would say, I'm sorry for your loss and your sacrifice. We should have done more, whether it was in preparation prior to, or execution at the time, even if we simply just, simply burned gas in airplanes moving people.
We have to have the confidence of the American people that provide us with their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, moms and dads. They continue to fill the uniforms and fill the civilian positions that are so key, and so brave, as well, out there in harm's way. We have to be sure that we rebuild the trust, this [inaudible] as well. We have to rebuild their trust. It's a big part of why I want to be here, because we need to say to them, we should have done more and we owe it to the memory of those four people who have fallen and to those who are hurt and wounded.
CHAFFETZ: Could we have done more?
LOVELL: We, we, sure we could [maybe one word inaudible]
CHAFFETZ: Hillary Clinton evidently, according to one of the mothers, whispered that it was the video that had done this. Is that true?
LOVELL: Absolutely not, sir.
CHAFFETZ: When did you think it was over? When were our Americans out of harm's way, when they were safe?
LOVELL: They're still not safe today, sir.
CHAFFETZ: When did you think the fight was over?
LOVELL: They're still there.
CHAFFETZ: That night though, September 12th, we still had people in Benghazi. When were they -- when was the fight over?
LOVELL: When the people from Benghazi finally made their way back, and were extracted back to Tripoli.
CHAFFETZ: You're opinion, your vantage point, there in Libya, was al-Qaeda on the run?
LOVELL: No sir.
CHAFFETZ: What was going on with al-Qaeda, September 11th, September 12th and the months leading up to that? Were they on the run?
LOVELL: No sir, there were actually affiliates and other Islamic extremists were actually responsible for the perpetration of these attacks.
CHAFFETZ: Were they growing in strength? Shrinking in strength?
LOVELL: My estimation would be that they were growing in strength, in number and in capability.
In 2012 Jason Chaffetz asked General Ham:
But General, in order for you to go into action, to put people on alert, to start moving, do you need a request from the Department of State for help and assistance? Page 40
Whatever the answer to that question was, it is redacted in the report.
For what it's worth, Col. David Hunt was on one of the Fox evening shows tonight, O'Reilly, I think, and said Hillary was in charge and responsible in Benghazi on 9/11/12 until the firefight started. After the attack began, according to Hunt, Obama had to take action for the military to act.