Unsatisfactory Response

Special operations officers demand more answers on Benghazi

Inside of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi after the attack on Sept. 11, 2012 / AP
April 24, 2013

Former special operations officers say that a much-anticipated congressional report investigating the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya leaves vital questions unanswered and proves that the Obama administration abandoned its responsibility to protect those who were under siege.

The House released on Tuesday what lawmakers claimed is a comprehensive report detailing the Obama administration’s multiple failures during its response to the Benghazi attacks, which claimed the lives of four Americans including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

The report primarily faulted the Obama administration and State Department for systematically lying about the attacks and stymying the military’s efforts to respond the attacks.

However, former military and intelligence officers say the report does not go nearly far enough in explaining why the administration refused to deploy nearby forces to protect the beleaguered Americans.

"As a former soldier it pains me to think that for hours upon hours and more hours they waited in vain for someone to come to their rescue," retired Special Forces Col. Jamie Williamson told the Washington Free Beacon on Wednesday after he had reviewed the 46-page report.

The report "totally neglected the incident on the ground at Benghazi itself," said Williamson, cofounder of the non-partisan advocacy group OPSEC, which pressures lawmakers to get answers regarding Benghazi.

"There were a lot of things not addressed or only halfway addressed," he said.

Less than four pages in the House Benghazi report are dedicated to uncovering why forces were never deployed in the wake of the terrorist attack. OPSEC has called this "totally inadequate."

Multiple U.S. military assets were ready to be deployed to Benghazi, according to reports in the seven months since the attack. However, military leaders and Obama administration officials never gave the order to deploy.

"This is certainly a dereliction of duty," said Williamson, who questioned why former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey failed to give the order.

Top military leaders broke the Soldier’s Creed, which states in part, "I will never leave a fallen comrade," Williamson said.

"We did [break the creed], we left four men to die out of political expediency and we did embarrass our country," he said. "It’s emboldened terrorists throughout the world and endangered our diplomats abroad."

OPSEC and other national security groups expressed a surprising degree of dissatisfaction about the report, which was spearheaded by top House Republicans.

While the report aimed to "put this thing to bed," it actually has raised more questions, said Williamson.

"The report has enormous gaps in critical information about the attack on Americans and our facilities in Benghazi and the near total lack of a U.S. military response that could potentially have saved lives," OPSEC said in a statement released Tuesday evening.

The group is demanding answers to several questions, including "Why were no U.S. military assets immediately deployed in response?" and "Why did the commander of Africom tell a member of Congress that he had available assets but was never given order to deploy them?"

Groups such as OPSEC, ACT! For America, and the Center for Security Policy maintain that the mysteries surrounding Benghazi will only be solved once House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) establishes a Watergate-style select committee to investigate the attack.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R., Va.) has been the chief advocate of such a committee and has authored a bill aimed at establishing it.

The select committee would have subpoena power, enabling it to compel the testimony of key administration figures who have sought to remain silent about the Benghazi attack.  120 House lawmakers back Wolf’s call for the committee.

"It seems predictable that months spent on more of the same, business-as-usual inquiries will produce more of the same stonewalling by the executive branch, a host of still-unanswered questions and a continuing lack of accountability for the policies that got us into this fiasco in Libya, for the conduct during the attack and for the cover-up that was perpetrated at the highest levels of the Obama administration," the Center for Security Policy said in a statement.

"It has become abundantly clear with the release today of a forty-three page ‘interim progress report’ that there is much need for a select committee to get to the bottom of the Benghazi terrorist attack," David N. Bossie, president of Citizens United, said in a statement.

Williamson said a select committee would be able to subpoena former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has faced criticism for the failures surrounding the attack.

"At face value it appears [Clinton] may have perjured herself" in testimony offered to Congress in January prior to her departure from the State Department.

The Benghazi report indicated that Clinton personally declined a request for increased security forces in Benghazi prior to the attack.

"This will come back to bite her in any upcoming election," Williamson said. "I will see to that."

OPSEC additionally claims that several survivors of the Benghazi attack have indicated that they were intimidated into remaining silent about what happened.

"They’re afraid and reasonably so," said Williamson, who claimed his group has had direct contact with Benghazi survivors. "It appears there has been overt or subtle intimidation and they’re afraid to come forward with their stories."

Sources on Capitol Hill have indicated that Benghazi whistleblowers could step forward in the months to come, according to Williamson.