…if what Eli Lake at the Daily Beast reports is true.
When the CIA’s acting director, Michael Morell, testifies Thursday before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, he is expected to say that the agency never requested Europe-based special operations teams, specialized Marine platoons, or armed drones on the night of the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official.
The disclosure may put an end to one line of inquiry into the Benghazi affair about why reinforcements from the region were not sent on the night of the attack. “Assistance from the U.S. military was critical, and we got what we requested,” the senior U.S. intelligence official said.
According to a Pentagon timeline made public last week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta prepared multiple military responses from the region at around midnight Benghazi time, more than two hours after the initial assault began. Those orders included mobilizing two special Marine platoons known as Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) from Rota, Spain, to deploy to Tripoli and Benghazi. Panetta also ordered a special operations force, training in central Europe, to deploy at the Signonella Airbase in Italy. Another special operations team based in the United States also prepared to deploy to Libya.
The CIA, however, requested none of that assistance. Neither did the State Department. None of those teams ever arrived in Benghazi.
This is directly contradictory to Jennifer Griffin’s reporting at Fox News. Griffin has multiple sources who were on the ground in Benghazi feeding her the claim that the team at the CIA annex asked repeatedly for backup.
Not to mention those guys were on the roof of the annex painting a mortar team with a laser, which would be a pointless activity unless they were attempting to facilitate an airstrike.
So if Morell says CIA never asked for military support, there’s an excellent chance some of the members of Congress in today’s hearing will be furious about that – just like they weren’t happy when Morell’s former boss David Petraeus spun the story about the Benghazi massacre being a protest about a YouTube that got out of control.
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey says this won’t wash…
Morell will testify that the CIA team received two forms of military assistance, apparently on the CIA’s request, although that’s not clear — an unarmed surveillance drone and a medevac team when the CIA squad on the ground was able to extract the remaining Americans to the airport. It’s certainly possible that this is true, and that Griffin got it wrong, even though Griffin claimed multiple sources who were on the ground during the attack.
But Morell’s explanation, as related by Lake, doesn’t make a lot of sense. If the consulate and the CIA annex was under heavy and deliberate attack by forces using mortars and RPGs, why wouldn’t they ask for the military assistance that they knew was on standby for just this sort of contingency? Why just ask for an unarmed surveillance drone rather than something that could potentially offer a diversion for the extraction of personnel from the consulate? It’s difficult to imagine that the intelligence unit under fire off an on for seven hours would never have requested military assistance to save the lives of the people in the compound — not impossible, perhaps, but certainly implausible.
What the hearings badly need is the testimony of some of the operators on the ground in Benghazi that night who can tell the truth about what they asked for and what they were told.
Because this thing is clearly being squashed by the administration using “national security” and top secret classification. That will succeed unless House Republicans prevent it from succeeding by doing their jobs.