Claim: Various critical statements about the September 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya:
|FALSE: Administration officials watched the attacks unfold in real time but did nothing to intervene.|
|FALSE: Requests issued by U.S. personnel for military back-up during the attacks were denied.|
|FALSE: General Carter Ham was relieved of his command for attempting to provide military assistance during the Benghazi attacks.|
|FALSE: Rear Admiral Charles M. Gaouette was relieved of his command for attempting to provide military assistance during the Benghazi attacks.|
Just one hour after the seven-hour-long terrorist attacks upon the U.S. consulate in Benghazi began, our commander-in-chief, vice president, secretary of defense and their national security team gathered together in the Oval Office listening to phone calls from American defenders desperately under siege and watching real-time video of developments from a drone circling over the site. Yet they sent no military aid that might have intervened in time to save lives.
[Collected via e-mail, October 2012]
Reports have just surfaced from a former Navy Seal present in Benghazi that those on the ground in Benghazi sent an urgent request from the CIA annex for military
[Collected via e-mail, October 2012]
The information I heard today was that General Ham as head of Africom received the same
General Ham then received the order to stand down. His response was to screw it, he was going to help anyhow. Within
Navy Rear Admiral, former commander of the USS John Stennis Strike Group, Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette was also mysteriously relieved of duty, and all the brass will say is he is "under investigation" for, get this, "inappropriate leadership judgment."
Just another way of saying that the admiral dared differ with the Administration's Libya policy and perhaps openly defied Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Origins: The claim that top Obama administration officials were gathered in the Oval Office watching a real-time video feed of the September 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, but did nothing to intervene appears to have originated with a
However, that description is a rather distorted version of what the news sources it references (CBS News and ABC News) actually reported. A CBS News story from that same day ("U.S. military poised for rescue in Benghazi") stated the following:
The audio feed of the attack was being monitored in real time in Washington by diplomatic security official Charlene Lamb. CBS News has learned that video of the assault was recovered
The government security camera footage of the attack was in the possession of local Libyans until the week of
The Obama administration has been studying the videos, taken from closed-circuit cameras throughout the Benghazi consulate’s four-building compound, for clues about who was responsible for the attack and how it played out. The two officials [said] that analysts are hoping to decipher the faces of the attackers and match them up with known jihadists.
In addition to the footage from the consulate cameras, the U.S. government is also poring over video taken from an overhead U.S. surveillance drone that arrived for the final hour of the night battle at the consulate compound and nearby annex.
Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was part of a small team who was at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When he and others heard the shots fired, they informed their higher-ups at the annex to tell them what they were hearing and requested permission to go to the consulate and help out. They were told to "stand down," according to sources familiar with the exchange. Soon after, they were again told to "stand down."
"Neither the president nor anyone in the White House denied any requests for assistance in Benghazi," National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor [said].
And the CIA has denied that anyone in its chain of command rejected requests for help from the besieged Americans.
Fox News Channel reported that American officials in the compound repeatedly asked for military help during the assault but were rebuffed by CIA
The agency mobilized the evacuation effort, took control of an unarmed U.S. military drone to map possible escape routes, dispatched an emergency security team from Tripoli, the capital, and chartered aircraft that ultimately carried surviving U.S. personnel to
U.S. intelligence officials insisted that CIA operatives in Benghazi and Tripoli made decisions rapidly throughout the assault with no interference from Washington, even while acknowledging that CIA security forces were badly outmatched and largely unable to mobilize Libyan security teams until it was too late.
Among the new disclosures is that the CIA station chief in Tripoli sent an emergency security force, with about a half-dozen agency operatives as well as two U.S. military personnel, to Benghazi aboard a hastily chartered aircraft while the attack was underway.
The CIA team attempted to organize an effort to make its way to a hospital where U.S. Ambassador
Two armored vehicles were prepared so the security team could respond from the Annex. Approximately
The team drove to the Mission facility and made their way onto the Mission compound in the face of enemy fire, arriving in the vicinity of the compound at approximately
In announcing Ham’s successor, Panetta also praised the work Ham has done with Africa Command.
"Gen. Ham has really brought AFRICOM into a very pivotal role in that challenging region," Panetta said. "I and the nation are deeply grateful for his outstanding service."
"As a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, General Ham, General Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation," Panetta said.
And as I look back on the events of that night and say ... and think in my own mind would air have made a difference? And in my military judgment, I believe the answer is no. It was a very uncertain situation in an environment which we know we had an unknown surface-to-air threat with the proliferation particularly of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, many of which remain unaccounted for. But mostly it was a lack of understanding of the environment, and hence the need for the Predator to try to gain an understanding of what was going on.
Knowing the intelligence that I had at the time, not obviously what I have now, but the intelligence I had at the time caused me to conclude in my military judgment that attack aircraft would not be the appropriate response tool. And so I did not direct a heightened alert. That is obviously fair for criticism, and knowing what we know now maybe that was — maybe I would make a different decision. But close air support I think, I still even knowing what I know now, think that was not the right tool to effect change in this situation.
Immediately following the Benghazi attack, the Internet became rife with speculation that Ham had been pushed out for wanting to do more militarily to help those Americans who were stranded after the attack. Shortly afterward, Ham announced his retirement, further fueling speculation that he was pushed out. Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Buck McKeon put the question to Ham.
MCKEON: "This might be a good time to ask ... I heard that you had made the statement that you were prepared to go to their aid and somebody told you no and you said you were going anyway. Is that all some supposition that comes from some reporter?"
HAM: "Yes, sir. No one ever told me no."
In a statement the Navy said it had approved a request made by Vice
A Navy official familiar with the circumstances of the investigation said it involved allegations of "inappropriate leadership judgment" and stressed it was not related to personal conduct.
The Stennis group arrived in the Fifth Fleet's area of operations on
The Navy reprimanded a former strike group commander March 25, five months after he was fired for swearing and allegedly making racially tinged comments that resulted in his being flown off an aircraft carrier deployed to the Arabian Gulf.
A Navy investigation has found that Gaouette, ousted from command of the Stennis Carrier Strike Group in October , made a host of potentially offensive comments that his rivals in the deployed strike group pounced on to get him relieved: He swore profusely, flipping off lieutenants, speculated that black admirals were chosen because of their race and sent six white officers a racially tinged email about a black sailor.
Interviews with strike group sailors and leaders "left little doubt they would not choose to behave in the same manner as did their commander," the Naval Inspector General concluded in its report, which ruled that Gaouette's offensive email and racial comments each violated Navy policy. Adm. Jon Richardson reprimanded Gaouette on
Bell, Larry. "White House Watched Benghazi Attacked and Didn't Respond." Forbes. 24 October 2012. Fellman, Sam. "Reprimand Likely Ends Admiral's Career." Navy Times. 3 April 2013. Fellman, Sam. "Report: Fired 1-Star Sent Racially Offensive Emails." Military Times. 12 April 2013. Griffin, Jennifer. "CIA Operators Were Denied Request for Help During Benghazi Attack." FoxNews.com. 26 October 2012. Griffin, Jennifer. "US Military Woefully Unprepared for Attack, Documents Show." FoxNews.com. 14 January 2014. Hlad, Jennifer. "Obama to Nominate Army Gen. Rodriguez to Lead AFRICOM." Stars & Stripes. 18 October 2012. Knox, Olivier. "Obama Did Not Deny Requests for Help in Benghazi." Yahoo! News. 28 October 2012. Lake, Eli. "Video From Benghazi Consulate Shows Organized Attack." Forbes. 12 October 2012. Martin, David. "U.S. Military Poised for Rescue in Benghazi." CBS News. 24 October 2012. Martinez, Luis. "Navy Replaces Admiral Leading Strike Group Because of Ongoing Investigation." ABC News. 27 October 2012. Miller, Greg. "CIA Rushed to Save Diplomats as Libya Attack Was Underway." The Washington Post. 1 November 2012.