Chief of US Mission in Libya: Benghazi Rescue Mission Told To Stand Down

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


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The narrative that nothing went wrong in Benghazi is now all but dead. It’s now becoming a question of allotting blame. Some of the names due to to testify on Benghazi are too big and too involved to be written off. Like the man who became the top diplomat in Libya after Stevens’ death.

A top U.S. diplomat will testify Wednesday that as fighting raged in Benghazi, Libya, in the early morning hours of September 12, 2012, military officials in the region told a second rescue team preparing to deploy from Tripoli to Benghazi not to make the trip.

In an interview with the House Oversight and Reform Committee last month, Greg Hicks, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Libya during the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, recalled his conversations with Libyan government officials and U.S. military leaders as he tried to get support to U.S. diplomatic and intelligence officials under attack in Benghazi. Hicks says he received a call from the Prime Minister of Libya shortly after 3am informing him that Ambassador Chris Stevens had been killed. Hicks became the top US diplomat in Libya after Stevens died.

In the hours that followed, Hicks says, the Libyan military agreed to fly a C-130 from Tripoli to Benghazi in the early morning hours of September 12 – a flight that was to include a second team of Special Operations soldiers – dispatched from the Libyan capital to join a team sent earlier to Benghazi. But as those reinforcements were leaving for the flight, they were told to stand down. Hicks received the news in an early morning phone call from a top military commander in the region.

“So Lieutenant Colonel Gibson, who is the SOCAFRICA commander, his team, you know, they were on their way to the vehicles to go to the airport to get on the C‑130 when he got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, ‘you can’t go now, you don’t have authority to go now,’’ Hicks recalled. “And so they missed the flight.”

Pushed to clarify whether they second rescue missed flight because they were told not to take it, Hicks responded: “They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it.”

Hicks says he was talking to officials in Washington all night but because the C-130 would be taking off from Mitiga International Airport, on the other side of Tripoli, he didn’t have time to push anyone in the United States to reverse the decision. “The flight was leaving.  And, you know, if they missed ‑‑ you know, if the vehicles didn’t leave when they leave, they would miss the flight time at the airport.”

Hicks remembers Gibson saying: “I have never been so embarrassed in my life that a State Department officer has bigger balls than somebody in the military.”

The team would have likely arrived after the fighting in Benghazi had ended, but those who made the decision not to send them had no way of knowing that when they ordered them to remain in Tripoli.

Hicks will also tell the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday that military officials twice declined to send air support to Benghazi because the U.S. military didn’t have “tanker assets” to support the trip from Aviano, Italy.

Blaming the military for this is easy. Nobody in SOCAFRICA is running for president in 2016. But it’s doubtful that the military command, even in the disgraceful state that it is under Obama, unilaterally made such a decision. And there is a pattern here of top brass shooting down and shutting down rescue efforts on various pretexts. It is doubtful that the word came down from them, it came from the higher ups.

But either way the claim that nothing could be done for Benghazi is dead. We have confirmation from one of the best sources possible that rescue efforts were made and then aborted.

  • P. Long

    If this isn't The sorriest episode in U.S. history, it has to be close. I'm not sure I would volunteer for anything connected with the military if I were one of our young men. To make a concerted effort and fail is a heart breaking thing, to watch people die without even trying to help is a national disgrace.

  • Dave

    Reminds me of the Black Hawk Down situation. Wasn't there a Clinton involved in that one too?

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

      "What difference does it make!"

      When a politician says that about us dying, you know their 'mentality' is flawed.

  • Snow White

    Face it folks. Only the President has the authority to tell the military to "stand Down" and relieve a general of his command, as General Hamm was when he decided to disobey that order to "stand down. " Everyone of the people who are being asked to "take the blame" are the president's appointees and answer directly to him. Nobody would have dared intercede and allow our people to be slaughtered without the Presidents order. and knowledge. As Harry Truman said, "The Bucks stops with him." Obama, the Muslim, is feeding out people into the Islamic killing machine.

  • john

    You can bet that if Stevie Wonder and Michael Jordan were the diplomats under attack – there would have been no “stand down” order from Obama. My statement is free from racism – but I believe it to be absolut;ey true.

  • DDay66

    This seems to be very similar to the Dust-Off controversys in Afghanistan. Where the Obama administration issues rules of engagement that include leaving soldiers to die in the field if the choppers don't have a big old red cross on it. And how they have essentially ruined the careers of the officers that have spoken out about it. Apparently US lives are cheap to this administration.

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    Indeed, they were ordered to let them die – http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/05/07/benghazigate-

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

  • Michael

    While all the previous comments and observations above are correct, and I agree with them, I see another dimension also. I believe media to be culpable also because it has, for years, been espousing opposition to concepts like patriotism, awareness of and identification of enemies of America and the West and insinuating that military solutions are foolish and to be avoided. Large numbers of Americans now are unable to discern what America's interests are and how (and even if) they should be protected. These confused Americans then select candidates for office that hold similar outlooks and implement foolish and destructive policies that cause terrible results. Benghazi is only one in a long pattern of foolish and reprehensible governmental actions that result from ignorance, indifference and hostility to America's well-being caused, in part, by the deleterious influence of a dishonest and treasonous media establishment.

    • Darlene Jackson

      Well stated.

  • Darlene

    This administration is destroying our country by every decision and indecision it makes. Folks, we need to make sure Who we believe in and what we believe in. The way our world is, there is no room for indifference and indecisiveness….which is what the world is made-up of! With all the rumors via TV, Internet, radio with all the media-hype, if you don't have a position on issues, you can be easliy swayed to believe anything! Remember the saying: "If you don't stand for anything, you'll fall for everything."

    Remember your loyalty to God, Family and Country! Remember what this great country, the United States went through to become a Republic. If we remember from where we came from, we can protect our freedoms and not be subject to brainwashed propaganda coming from DC.

    Time to get a personal connection with God and to claim our country back! If you are solid in your belief in God, hold to it and help others to know Jesus. He is The Only One who can help us keep our civility and sanity! God bless America! ~Peace