AFRICOM commander: We knew almost immediately Benghazi was a terrorist attack

posted at 8:41 am on July 23, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

A public statement this weekend about the night of the Benghazi attack from former AFRICOM commander General Carter Ham is making the rounds, thanks to some belated attention from Fox News, but it’s more curious than revelatory. Now retired, General Ham spoke at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado and addressed his recollections of the consulate sacking and the American response.  In Washington for meetings at the time, Ham told the audience that they knew within hours that it was a terrorist attack (via JWF):

While the State Department has maintained that Rice’s erroneous talking points were the result of getting and reacting to information in real time, critics accuse the Obama administration of orchestrating a politically motivated cover-up over a botched response, and continue to press for answers as to when the administration knew they were dealing with a terrorist attack.

When asked whether he specifically thought it was a terrorist attack, Ham said, “I don’t know that that was my first reaction. But pretty quickly as we started to gain understanding within the hours after the initiation of the attack, yes. And at the command I don’t think anyone thought differently.”

That raises all sorts of questions about the US response — afterward, at least.  The White House maintained for a week afterward that the attack was a spontaneous riot sparked by a YouTube movie.  Barack Obama went to the UN two weeks after the attack and warned that the future would not belong to “those who slander the prophet of Islam.” If the US military command was (correctly) convinced while the attack was underway that it was terrorism and not just a demonstration gone bad, why was the White House insisting that the latter was the case — for days on end?

However, Ham seems to take responsibility for the lack of response during the attack:

Ham was in Washington for a meeting of all combat commanders when the attack was under way. Although a decision was made to send a drone from eastern Libya toward Benghazi, by the time it arrived above the facility, the attack on the mission was winding down.

Ham knew Ambassador Chris Stevens was missing and believed he could have possibly been kidnapped. Stevens and three other Americans died in the attack.

“In my mind, at that point we were no longer in a response to an attack. We were in a recovery and frankly, I thought, we were in a potential a hostage rescue situation,” Ham said.

Ham said although he had authority to scramble a jet to the scene, he decided there was “not necessity and there was not a clear purpose in doing so.”

“To do what?” he asked. “It was a very, very uncertain situation.”

Congress had been asking about the lack of response in its hearings over the last two months, but didn’t get a lot of answers.  Ham appears to be taking responsibility for that decision, with an explanation that he didn’t think much could be done.  That doesn’t explain the eyewitness testimony about orders for the Tripoli unit to stand down, but it does cover the lack of any deployment from the Pentagon’s rapid-response units in the region.  If Ham didn’t make that decision himself, it at least sounds as though he didn’t disagree with it.

Update: As a reminder, we’ve known for a long time — September 27th — that the White House knew almost immediately this was a terrorist attack.


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Well, duh! What else could it have been? A robbery?

Blake on July 23, 2013 at 8:45 AM

Oh, I guess the inference was a spontaneous mob attack. No.

Blake on July 23, 2013 at 8:45 AM

“To do what?” he asked. “It was a very, very uncertain situation.”

how sad that our “leaders” have become more worried about risk aversion than in protecting Americans.

chasdal on July 23, 2013 at 8:48 AM

Isn’t General Ham Sandwich here the guy who should know who made the call to stand down?

Free Indeed on July 23, 2013 at 8:50 AM

I guess that this is the most appropriate place to post this link to Dr. Hanson’s work titled “Lying in the Age of Obama.”

http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/lying-in-the-age-of-obama/

ted c on July 23, 2013 at 8:52 AM

What difference does it make now???(TM)

ted c on July 23, 2013 at 8:52 AM

how sad that our “leaders” have become more worried about risk aversion than in protecting Americans.

chasdal on July 23, 2013 at 8:48 AM

That’s what you get when we have a Dick-tator President who will throw Generals and Admirals under the bus without hesitation to save his own a$$

RandallinHerndon on July 23, 2013 at 8:54 AM

Who the hell does this guy think he is!!??

We all know it was caused by a Video maker!!

ToddPA on July 23, 2013 at 8:55 AM

What was Obama doing that evening in D.C. when Americans were being murdered in Benghazi?

And if this General Ham is really this stupid then maybe they should have let him go out and be the fall guy. Because he sounds like an idiot.

PappyD61 on July 23, 2013 at 8:56 AM

Anyone with two brain cells to rub together could see it was a terrorist attack.

BigGator5 on July 23, 2013 at 8:56 AM

Isn’t General Ham Sandwich here the guy who should know who made the call to stand down?

Free Indeed on July 23, 2013 at 8:50 AM

Speaking of, is he any relationship to Reginald, Viscount of Sandwich?

hillsoftx on July 23, 2013 at 8:56 AM

So they lied initially. What did it cost them? Some face? Maybe. But it would’ve cost them the election had they told the truth and not delayed the inevitable. They pushed the truth into the future, so they could get it into a document dump later on when no one cared and when it “wouldn’t make any difference”…..

ted c on July 23, 2013 at 8:57 AM

Ham said although he had authority to scramble a jet to the scene, he decided there was “not necessity and there was not a clear purpose in doing so.”

“To do what?” he asked. “It was a very, very uncertain situation.”

Wow, this guy is a genius. Really? Isn’t war a “very uncertain situation”?

PappyD61 on July 23, 2013 at 8:57 AM

Draw sword from scabbard, place butt on floor with point against bottom button on uniform blouse, lean forward.

The number of people who are willing to commit seppuku for this POTUS continues to amaze me. I can’t decide whether it’s because of what they hope to receive in return after they do- or fear of what they’ll get if they don’t.

If all concerned had been just half as decisive and industrious that night, Benghazi wouldn’t have happened. And Ambassador Stevens and the others would still be alive.

Then again, that might not have fit somebody’s “narrative”.

clear ether

eon

eon on July 23, 2013 at 8:58 AM

What is this “Benghazi” you speak of? Never heard of it- was it another one of Bush’s cruel and calculated mistakes?

BettyRuth on July 23, 2013 at 8:59 AM

I still don’t understand why we don’t know who gave the orders to stand down? We know one guy who got the orders, ask him who he was asking to when the order was given.

tommer74 on July 23, 2013 at 8:59 AM

“It was a very, very uncertain situation.”

So, let’s wait until we have 4 confirmed dead and a couple of buildings smoldering? Goodness.

hillsoftx on July 23, 2013 at 9:00 AM

And youtube guy still rots in Hillary’s dungeon.

forest on July 23, 2013 at 9:02 AM

Who is “we?”

Oh, yeah. Everyone NOT in the White House situation room.

Wino on July 23, 2013 at 9:03 AM

Where was Zero that night? Is Ham falling on his sword for him? Why the lies and cover up? Are we supposed to believe all that horse crap was put out for “optics?”

I am not buying.

dogsoldier on July 23, 2013 at 9:03 AM

I still don’t understand why we don’t know who gave the orders to stand down? We know one guy who got the orders, ask him who he was asking to when the order was given.

tommer74 on July 23, 2013 at 8:59 AM

Why have they hidden away the survivors and why have they run around the State Department making people sign new NDAs?

dogsoldier on July 23, 2013 at 9:05 AM

I hope this general is no relation to our MKH.

A General Officer….and is reluctant to try to help out because of what?

And to top it off…during the critical days after…as Commander having cognizance over the Libya…said NOTHING at all to dispel the propaganda coming out of the White House…video, remember…and Susan Rice on TV…five times in one morning on the Sunday circuit…and Ham said what?

Absolutely zero. By his silence he let that meme get embedded…

Keeerist…is this typical of our present crop of commanders, generals, admirals?

I take back what I said yesterday in that general’s housing thread.

Maybe they should ALL be forced back into the barracks.

Be required to give those upscale quarters to those more deserving.

Maybe get in contact with the troops all over again…find out what is really important.

Sucking up to the White House is not. Ever. I do not care who is in office.

In any case, this stuff sends a clear message to the troops, doesn’t it?

Get in a jam (command created for you) and you are on your own…because the optics aren’t right or it’ll cause bumps in the road.

Uncertain situation??? Normandy was uncertain for weeks…Okinawa was uncertain, Bunker Hill was uncertain, Gettysburg was uncertain…

coldwarrior on July 23, 2013 at 9:06 AM

“What difference at this point does it make?”

“To do what?”

What great leadership we have in the upper ranks of the State Department and Military.

HumpBot Salvation on July 23, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Can’t risk that lucrative General office retirement pension with some last months of active duty rescue mission. It might fail. Maybe even against orders from “higher up”. Took an oath to defend and preserve that pension.

philw1776 on July 23, 2013 at 9:10 AM

So why was Carter Ham relieved of command on the spot during the episode? Because he was taking the blame? I don’t think so.

iamsaved on July 23, 2013 at 9:15 AM

Great General’s we have. Is there a General left that is still committed to the defense of the nation, or have they all become Barry’s concubine’s?

Flange on July 23, 2013 at 9:15 AM

Hammie could have said it was just some guys out for a walk who decided to kill some Americans…oh, wait, that lines already been taken. Maybe at this point what difference does it make, oh, that’s used already, too. This guy is a general who wants to keep his stars, and his retirement. Maybe he got a call from the irs.

Kissmygrits on July 23, 2013 at 9:16 AM

It would have been fitting if there was a tampon hanging from his Good Conduct ribbon.

docflash on July 23, 2013 at 9:17 AM

docflash on July 23, 2013 at 9:17 AM

Just being me…

Unless Gernal Ham had spent time as an enlisted man…he has no Good Conduct medal/ribbon. Officers do not get those. They are expected to demonstrate Good Conduct at all times. Enlisted? Not so much.

But your point…and zinger…yeah. :-)

coldwarrior on July 23, 2013 at 9:22 AM

I agree with the comment floating around the internet…

If George Zimmerman wants the administration to completely forget about him all he needs to do is change his name to Ben Ghazi.

Happy Nomad on July 23, 2013 at 9:22 AM

Gernal? General. Damn small screens….

coldwarrior on July 23, 2013 at 9:23 AM

The survivors are very fortunate it was Israel conducting the raid of Entebbe and not the United States. . . lest they would still be there and the U.S. would still be debating whether it was worthy of a response.

rplat on July 23, 2013 at 9:23 AM

I think the regime has found someone with enough credibility to say that Stevens could not have been rescued in time. Wonder what they have on Ham….

rodguy911 on July 23, 2013 at 9:25 AM

Wonder what they have on Ham….

rodguy911 on July 23, 2013 at 9:25 AM

Mayo?

coldwarrior on July 23, 2013 at 9:25 AM

Gernal? General. Damn small screens….

coldwarrior on July 23, 2013 at 9:23 AM

A General who really should never have been promoted above Colonel?

Wino on July 23, 2013 at 9:28 AM

Who is “we?”

Oh, yeah. Everyone NOT in the White House situation room.

Wino on July 23, 2013 at 9:03 AM

You really think anybody was in the White House situation room on the night of September 11th? We know the rat-eared mullato was not. He went to be to be fully rested for his party in Vegas the next day.

Here’s the reality, and the administration really can’t get beyond this fact- Things were confused at first. Stevens was missing and the consulate was under attack. Communications was lacking…..

BUT AT NO TIME WAS THIS A RESULT OF A YOUTUBE VIDEO AS WAS CLAIMED BY THE ADMINISTRATION FOR WEEKS AFTERWARD. They even spent 100K on an ad campaign condemning that video. It was the talking point at a UN speech. And most importantly, it was the claim being made in the Rose Garden the morning of September 12th. The administration lied and continued telling the lie until they couldn’t.

Happy Nomad on July 23, 2013 at 9:28 AM

That’s it. Turn the lights out, Madie. It’s over.

Cleombrotus on July 23, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Happy Nomad on July 23, 2013 at 9:28 AM

Call it “poetic license,” then. It’s the allusion to those who should have been in charge, get it?

Wino on July 23, 2013 at 9:31 AM

“Lying in the Age of Obama.”

http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/lying-in-the-age-of-obama/

ted c on July 23, 2013 at 8:52 AM

Yes, as Dr. V.D. Hanson shows, government lying is rampant, goes unpunished, and the ideology is largely to blame.

petefrt on July 23, 2013 at 9:34 AM

General Ham, meet General Fishy.

petefrt on July 23, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Perhaps general Ham Sandwich was pickling someone else’s tomato. Surely the big cheese’s at the NSA would know about that. And it’d be a shame to see such a distinguished Ham Sandwich get toasted.

Free Indeed on July 23, 2013 at 9:40 AM

petefrt on July 23, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Joe Goebbels would be so proud of little Barry….and his minions.

[Not to disparage any Minions…let’s make that clear, OK?]

coldwarrior on July 23, 2013 at 9:40 AM

where are our statesmen? where is 1 flag officer who will willingly stand up for the truth?

::facepalm::

ted c on July 23, 2013 at 9:42 AM

not only to stand up for the truth, but to stand up for the truth WHEN IT MATTERS THE MOST not after enough time has passed so that one may ask what difference does it make now??

ted c on July 23, 2013 at 9:43 AM

Dereliction of duty. Cut his pension off until he starts remembering things.

DanMan on July 23, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Why do so many want to cover for this president?

sandee on July 23, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Free Indeed on July 23, 2013 at 9:40 AM

A+

petefrt on July 23, 2013 at 9:51 AM

GEN Ham was my boss, twice. Great man, great leader, great patriot. He started out as an enlisted troop, then got a commission. What GEN Ham is not … he is not a coward, he is not a liar, he is not a fool, he is not an idiot.

He retired early from his position at AFRICOM. I don’t know why. I have my guesses. I have not spoken to him. But neither have you.

For those “arm chair patriots” who have never been in the line of fire, not only do you speak from a position of ignorance, you malign a great person.

Grinch on July 23, 2013 at 9:55 AM

Actually, we knew as soon as the first call was placed by anyone at the consulate who said they were being attacked, rather than overrun by protesters.

BKeyser on July 23, 2013 at 9:59 AM

blink on July 23, 2013 at 9:51 AM

If we were able to see the transcripts of ALL the commo that night…might clear up a few things.

One of the bits that has come out is when one of the former SEAL’s, Tyrone Woods, if I recall, mentioned painting a target…and one does not do that if assets are far away.

So…which is it? We knew nothing about the situation or we knew, and just didn’t want to wake up der Fuehrer?

coldwarrior on July 23, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Who ordered American air assets out of the area that night? Where’s the pilot that was ready to fire on a painted enemy target and was ordered to bug out?

CurtZHP on July 23, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Gee, if every firefighter thought twice about responding to a scene “to do what?” we would be in serious trouble. You send your assets in just in case.

Obama sucks.

HopeHeFails on July 23, 2013 at 10:04 AM

Sounds to me like Ham did what the pols expected him to do. NOTHING. They had no plans, why should he.

GarandFan on July 23, 2013 at 10:17 AM

We knew almost immediately Benghazi was a terrorist attack

Guess the automatic gunfire and lobbed grenades would make a fella’s opinion “lean” towards an “attack” huh?

Brilliant, just brilliant…

Tim Zank on July 23, 2013 at 10:20 AM

“And the TRUTH….shall set you FREE!” Can I have an ‘Amen’?!

easyt65 on July 23, 2013 at 10:20 AM

What was the government’s 1st clue the Benghazi attack was an act of Terrorism?

o Was it the Warning from the Libyan government that rumors of an attack on 9/11/12 had been heard?

o Was it OUR Intel who intercepted the video from al Qaeda’s #2 man calling for an attack on Stevens on 9/11/12 in retaliation for a Libyan-born Al Qaeda leader having been killed by a drone strike several months before?

o Was it the 2 previous terrorist attacks against Stevens compound, the last leaving a 4-foot hole in the compound wall?

o Was it the continued requests for more security from Stevens, his warning that Al Qaeda flags were being flown over the new Libyan Govt buildings, his warning of 10 new terrorist camps opening up in Benghazi, or the warning that if he did not have more security and there was a 3rd attack HE WOULD DIE?

o Maybe it was the Phone call from the State Dept’s #2 guy in Tripoli to Hillary moments after the attack began telling her/the State Dept, “Stevens is under ATTACK in Benghazi”.

o Perhaps it was the cables the CIA in Benghazi sent to the State Dept and the White House War Room within an hour of the attack beginning telling both that this was a terrorist attack…you know, the cables the White House and State Dept re-wrote 12 (TWELVE) Times before they began selling the attack as a protest over some video on the talk shows?

…the sad thing is there is a lot more that could be added to this list…

easyt65 on July 23, 2013 at 10:28 AM

I understand how easy it is to Monday morning quarterback, so I have to give the pass on whether to scramble jets or not.

But, “Monday morning” the White house knew it was a terrorist attack and maintained their lies…

A horrible, horrible example of leadership, of honesty, integrity of honoring brave men who fought to their death…shrouded with political lies and distortions.

right2bright on July 23, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Ham said although he had authority to scramble a jet to the scene, he decided there was “not necessity and there was not a clear purpose in doing so.”

“To do what?” he asked. “It was a very, very uncertain situation.”

One of the survivors told Congress that he had located a mortar launcher and had pointed a laser at it. If a jet had been scrambled, it could have dropped a “smart bomb” on the mortar, and saved the lives of everyone eventually hit by the mortar.

It might have also caused “collateral damage” among the protesters / demonstrators / terrorists / human disaster causers shooting RPG’s from near the mortar, and some of the others might have scattered to save their precious hides.

Who knows…contrary to our brilliant former Secretary of State, it might have made a difference!

Steve Z on July 23, 2013 at 10:31 AM

It took 8 hours for the drone to get overhead? So why did they send a drone and not something else?
Why did they sit back on their khakis and do nothing, prepare for nothing?

ProfessorMiao on July 23, 2013 at 10:35 AM

It’s terrorism. But, but…there’s “not a clear reason to scramble jets.”

In other words, not going to enforce or support that “leave no man behind” ‘thing’.

Obama’s new Pentagon. I wonder how many of them got IPods from Obama with Obama’s favorite tunes on them.

Lourdes on July 23, 2013 at 10:41 AM

I think the regime has found someone with enough credibility to say that Stevens could not have been rescued in time. Wonder what they have on Ham….

rodguy911 on July 23, 2013 at 9:25 AM

“You know that cushy retirement check you’re getting? Be a shame if anything happened to it.”
/The Chicago Way

Bitter Clinger on July 23, 2013 at 10:41 AM

It took 8 hours for the drone to get overhead? So why did they send a drone and not something else?
Why did they sit back on their khakis and do nothing, prepare for nothing?

ProfessorMiao on July 23, 2013 at 10:35 AM

“What difference does it make!”

– from The New Obama Operations Manual.

Lourdes on July 23, 2013 at 10:42 AM

AFRICOM commander: We knew almost immediately Benghazi was a terrorist attack

A patriot would have resigned his post and informed the nation 10 months ago that Obama and the corrupt liberal media were deceiving the nation.

What difference does it make at this point?

We are having a conversation about race and figuring out how to honor someone who did nothing which merits being honored.

Basilsbest on July 23, 2013 at 10:46 AM

No sh!t, Sherlock!

Christien on July 23, 2013 at 10:55 AM

He did not address reports that he was pushed into retirement after Benghazi. He also said a quick response was not possible and defended the decision not to assemble fighter jets. “In my military judgment, it was not a necessity and there was not a clear purpose in doing so.”

Read more: http://foxnewsinsider.com/2013/07/22/gen-carter-ham-benghazi-attack-says-anti-islam-video-clearly-not-blame#ixzz2ZsewJWYh

Opinions seem to vary on whether or not there was indeed enough time to react to the raid at Benghazi or not.
I still say it would not be unusal for the regime to have something on Ham even if its only they threaten to take away his pension.

rodguy911 on July 23, 2013 at 10:57 AM

“Uncertain situation”. Perhaps our illustrious administration deemed Benghazi a ‘workplace violence’ situation and passed the word down the line. We don’t want to ruffle the feathers of people who want to kill us already, you know. And of course threats, intimidation, coercion and blackmail are standard operating procedures for this administration. If this bunch was as good at intimidating our enemies as they they are our assets…

ghostwalker1 on July 23, 2013 at 11:08 AM

There is only attack, attack, and attack some more!” -Gen. George Patton.

To do what?” Gen. Ham.

The core of our current corruption.

profitsbeard on July 23, 2013 at 11:12 AM

And not a single naval vessel that could have coordinated fire-support with the people on the ground being attacked? Or get a quick recon drone up to see what was happening?

Even if outside of shelling range, an SSM would be good enough to hit the general area of the attackers and remind them that they barely controlled the ground they stood on. And that would be way faster than scrambling jets…

The amount of negligence if not outright wanting to see our people put at peril that went on during this is despicable.

ajacksonian on July 23, 2013 at 11:12 AM

2. Would the aircraft have been able to successfully establish comms with guy on the ground attempting to designate the target? How would this be done?

blink on July 23, 2013 at 11:07 AM

So, let’s not even try?

That’s your strategy?

Let’s Not Try.

The Hillary Option.

That logo would look real good on a banner.

Or service armpatch.

profitsbeard on July 23, 2013 at 11:21 AM

If this is the best we have to offer in regards to military command, then we are in deep $hit. Note to self: study copious amounts of late Roman History and the survival of Romans after the fall.

DDay on July 23, 2013 at 11:22 AM

the survival of Romans after the fall.

DDay on July 23, 2013 at 11:22 AM

There’s a reason nobody speaks Latin anymore.

CurtZHP on July 23, 2013 at 11:31 AM

One of the bits that has come out is when one of the former SEAL’s, Tyrone Woods, if I recall, mentioned painting a target…and one does not do that if assets are far away.

I already tried to explain that he may have simply heard that an unmanned aerial vehicle was on its way and been aggressively preparing the arrival with a laser designator. Sadly, he might not have been informed that the UAV was unarmed.

Who ordered American air assets out of the area that night? Where’s the pilot that was ready to fire on a painted enemy target and was ordered to bug out?

CurtZHP on July 23, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Are you asking this simply because of the reports that Woods was illuminating a target with a laser? Because there is no other evidence that an armed US aircraft was overhead.

blink on July 23, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Sure, blink. We all know that SEALs are so dumb that they laze a target simply in hopes that a passing aircraft will see it and drop a bomb or two for them. Especially since that target designator works both ways (rather like tracers).

You may, indeed, have been some staff officer’s dog robber – but a) I sincerely doubt that you have any more insight into what went on that night than anyone else here; and b)keep wondering what your intentions are in your constant attempts to assist in the administration coverup and defense of indefensible inaction that night – on the part of almost all concerned.

[As for "arm chair patriots"...I'll put my time on the line against yours any time - and I don't mean the receiving line at an O Club soiree.]

Now, I’m not going to discuss this with you. Suffice it to say that I have had and continue to suspect your motives vis a vis this incident and its attendant coverup.

Solaratov on July 23, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Yes, as Dr. V.D. Hanson shows, government lying is rampant, goes unpunished, and the ideology is largely to blame.

petefrt on July 23, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Instead of the GOP leaders forcing Rep. Joe Wilson to apologize for calling President Obama a liar to his face, we should have made him a poster boy for the last four years.

AesopFan on July 23, 2013 at 12:03 PM

There’s a reason nobody speaks Latin anymore.

CurtZHP on July 23, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Indeed.

AesopFan on July 23, 2013 at 12:05 PM

“To do what?” he asked. “It was a very, very uncertain situation.”

No doubt the Trillions spent on defense of this Country is for people to sit around watching fellow Americans fight for their lives while they consider the political fallout…

… Then there is the speaking circuit to think of, can’t jeopardize that.

Yes sir, it is a proud day to be an American…

(VOMIT!)

Seven Percent Solution on July 23, 2013 at 1:28 PM

Reason 4 DoD support of Obama’s Cover Up?

Poor Leadership of AFRICOM Let 2nd Attack Happen

mathewsjw on July 23, 2013 at 2:10 PM

Isn’t war a “very uncertain situation”?

PappyD61 on July 23, 2013 at 8:57 AM

Some certainty from Afghanistan

Shy Guy on July 24, 2013 at 1:15 AM