Disclosed: Email Shows Pentagon Offered ‘Forces that Could Move to Benghazi’ Immediately

Burnt out compound in Benghazi / AP
December 8, 2015

Newly released emails show that a senior Defense Department official offered the State Department "forces that could move to Benghazi" immediately during the deadly 2012 attack there on the American consulate.

Jeremy Bash, the former Pentagon chief of staff, offered to provide forces at 7:19 p.m. on the evening of the attack, "only hours after they had begun," according to Judicial Watch, which disclosed the email on Tuesday.

"We have identified the forces that could move to Benghazi. They are spinning up as we speak," Bash wrote.

Portions of the email remain redacted by the Obama administration.

"The Obama administration redacted the details of the military forces available, oddly citing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemption that allows the withholding of ‘deliberative process’ information," according to Judicial Watch.

The newly disclosed email contradicts testimony to Congress by Obama administration officials who cited the inability to immediately provide forces in response to the attack.

"Bash’s email seems to directly contradict testimony given by then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2013," writes Judicial Watch.

"Defending the Obama administration’s lack of military response to the nearly six-hour-long attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Panetta claimed that ‘time, distance, the lack of an adequate warning, events that moved very quickly on the ground prevented a more immediate response,’" the group wrote in a press release.

Update 4:19 P.M.: Matt Wolking, press secretary for the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said that lawmakers have been aware of this piece of correspondence but did not release it publicly.

"The Select Committee has obtained and reviewed tens of thousands of documents in the course of its thorough, fact-centered investigation into the Benghazi terrorist attacks, and this information will be detailed in the final report the Committee hopes to release within the next few months," Wolking told the Free Beacon.

"While the Committee does not rush to release or comment on every document it uncovers, I can confirm that we obtained the unredacted version of this email last year, in addition to Jake Sullivan’s response," Wolking said. "This email chain helped inform the Committee’s interview of Sullivan in September and will help inform the Committee’s upcoming interviews with Thomas Nides and others."

Published under: Benghazi