Saturday, April 21, 2018

Panetta: U.S. lacked early info on Benghazi attack

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military did not quickly intervene during the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya because military leaders did not have adequate intelligence information and felt they should not put American forces at risk, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday.

In his most extensive comments to date on the unfolding controversy surrounding the attack in Benghazi, Panetta said U.S. forces were on heightened alert because of the anniversary of 9/11 and prepared to respond. But, he said, the attack happened within a few hours and was over before the United States could know what was really occurring.

"(The) basic principle is that you don't deploy forces into harm's way without knowing what's going on; without having some real-time information about what's taking place," Panetta told Pentagon reporters. "And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, Gen. Ham, Gen. Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation."

Panetta was referring to Gen. Carter Ham, the head of U.S. Africa Command, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In a letter Thursday to President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner questioned whether the White House considered military options during or immediately after the attack, and he questioned what the president knew about the security threats in the country. He said the national debate over the incident shows that Americans are concerned and frustrated about the administration's response to the attack.

"Can you explain what options were presented to you or your staff, and why it appears assets were not allowed to be pre-positioned, let alone utilized? If these reports are accurate, the artificial constraint on the range of options at your disposal would be deeply troubling," Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote.

U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attack, which has become a heated campaign issue less than two weeks before the election. Republicans have criticized the Obama administration's failure to more quickly acknowledge that intelligence suggested very early on that it was a planned terrorist attack, rather than spontaneous violence erupting out of protests over an anti-Muslim film.

As the events were unfolding, the Pentagon began to move special operations forces from Europe to Sigonella Naval Air Station in Sicily. U.S. aircraft routinely fly in and out of Sigonella and there are also fighter jets based in Aviano, Italy. But while the U.S. military was at a heightened state of alert because of 9/11, there were no American forces poised and ready to move immediately into Benghazi when the attack began.

Also, the Pentagon would not send forces or aircraft into Libya — a sovereign country — without a request from the State Department and the knowledge or consent of the host nation.

During his news conference, Panetta lamented the "Monday morning quarterbacking" that has been going on about how the United States handled the attack. And Dempsey, sitting alongside Panetta, bristled at questions about what the military did or did not do in the aftermath.

Noting that there are reviews already going on, Dempsey added, "It's not helpful, in my view, to provide partial answers. I can tell you, however, sitting here today, that I feel confident that our forces were alert and responsive to what was a very fluid situation."

Comments
Archer’s sparkling start precedes surreal finish

Archer’s sparkling start precedes surreal finish

By now, we presume you've had a few hours to digest the Rays' improbable 10-inning triumph Friday night.So instead of rehashing the whole bizarre body of work, how 'bout a closer look at the workmanship. Specifically, Chris Archer's.Partially lost in...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Moriya Jutanugarn shoots 66, leads by 1 shot in Los Angeles

Moriya Jutanugarn shoots 66, leads by 1 shot in Los Angeles

Moriya Jutanugarn takes one-shot lead into the weekend at the LPGA event in Los Angeles in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA Tour winner
Updated: 1 hour ago
Vive le France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

Vive le France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

Vive le France: President Donald Trump to host his first big social event, a state dinner for President Emmanuel Macron.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Smyths Toys to take over Toys R Us stores in Germany

Smyths Toys to take over Toys R Us stores in Germany

Ireland-based Smyths Toys has reached a deal to take over more than 90 Toys R Us stores in Germany, Austria and Switzerland
Updated: 1 hour ago

Hamas says man gunned down in Malaysia was important member

Hamas militant group says a man gunned down in Malaysia was one of its members who had made "important contributions" in science
Updated: 1 hour ago

Hamas says man gunned down in Malaysia was important member

Hamas militant group says a man gunned down in Malaysia was one of its members who had made "important contributions" in science
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Latest: Photog witnessed Palestinian teen being shot

The Latest: Photog witnessed Palestinian teen being shot

Photographer says Palestinian teen who was killed by Israeli army fire was dozens of meters (yards) from Gaza border fence when he was hit by bullet
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Latest: Photog witnessed Palestinian teen being shot

The Latest: Photog witnessed Palestinian teen being shot

Photographer says Palestinian teen who was killed by Israeli army fire was dozens of meters (yards) from Gaza border fence when he was hit by bullet
Updated: 2 hours ago
Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

TAMPA — Shaquem Griffin wakes up knowing each day will be better than the last and barely unable to wait until tomorrow."It's just a whirlwind,'' Griffin said.On Thursday, he will walk the red carpet with his family, including his twin brother,...
Updated: 2 hours ago
New South African church celebrates drinking alcohol

New South African church celebrates drinking alcohol

Lively new South African church celebrates alcohol; 'We drink for deliverance'
Updated: 2 hours ago