Fox: Administration knew within minutes that Benghazi was a terrorist attack

posted at 8:41 am on January 14, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

To some extent we knew this already — Leon Panetta said so in open testimony, to which I’ll return later — but James Rosen at Fox confirms this understanding at the highest levels of the Obama administration within minutes of the attack. No one seriously thought it was a demonstration that had turned into a riot, despite the spin offered in the days after the attack left four Americans dead. And that leaves a lot of questions as to the lack of response:

Minutes after the American consulate in Benghazi came under assault on Sept. 11, 2012, the nation’s top civilian and uniformed defense officials — headed for a previously scheduled Oval Office session with President Obama — were informed that the event was a “terrorist attack,” declassified documents show. The new evidence raises the question of why the top military men, one of whom was a member of the president’s Cabinet, allowed him and other senior Obama administration officials to press a false narrative of the Benghazi attacks for two weeks afterward.

Gen. Carter Ham, who at the time was head of AFRICOM, the Defense Department combatant command with jurisdiction over Libya, told the House in classified testimony last year that it was him who broke the news about the unfolding situation in Benghazi to then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The tense briefing — in which it was already known that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens had been targeted and had gone missing — occurred just before the two senior officials departed the Pentagon for their session with the commander in chief.

According to declassified testimony obtained by Fox News, Ham — who was working out of his Pentagon office on the afternoon of Sept. 11 — said he learned about the assault on the consulate compound within 15 minutes of its commencement, at 9:42 p.m. Libya time, through a call he received from the AFRICOM Command Center. …

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, a first-term lawmaker with experience as an Iraq war veteran and Army reserve officer, pressed Ham further on the point, prodding the 29-year Army veteran to admit that “the nature of the conversation” he had with Panetta and Dempsey was that “this was a terrorist attack.”

The transcript reads as follows:

WENSTRUP: “As a military person, I am concerned that someone in the military would be advising that this was a demonstration. I would hope that our military leadership would be advising that this was a terrorist attack.”

HAM: “Again, sir, I think, you know, there was some preliminary discussion about, you know, maybe there was a demonstration. But I think at the command, I personally and I think the command very quickly got to the point that this was not a demonstration, this was a terrorist attack.”

WENSTRUP: “And you would have advised as such if asked. Would that be correct?”

HAM: “Well, and with General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta, that is the nature of the conversation we had, yes, sir.”

Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February of last year that it was him who informed the president that “there was an apparent attack going on in Benghazi.” “Secretary Panetta, do you believe that unequivocally at that time we knew that this was a terrorist attack?” asked Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. “There was no question in my mind that this was a terrorist attack,” Panetta replied.

Furthermore, the communication from the US military in Libya made clear from the start that this was a an attack, not a riot:

WESTRUP: “So no one from the military was ever advising, that you are aware of, that this was a demonstration gone out of control, it was always considered an attack -”

BRISTOL: “Yes, sir.”

WENSTRUP: “– on the United States?”

BRISTOL: “Yes, sir. … We referred to it as the attack.”

We have already known that Panetta got briefed from the start that this was a terrorist attack, from Panetta’s own lips. Presumably, that’s what he then told Barack Obama. What happened in between to cause them to claim it was a demonstration that got out of control? One charitable possibility is that the State Department or CIA might have claimed otherwise based on faulty intel — it happens, especially in the fog of war — or it could be that someone concocted that story to give them political cover for the lack of preparedness that this event demonstrated.

The Fox report also debunks the rumor that General Carter Ham received a stand-down order that night. As the classified testimony confirms, the American military was completely unprepared to deal with a terrorist attack in the region that night:

This is mind-blowing. This wasn’t just some random night; it occurred on the anniversary of the 9/11 attack. It took place in what Qaddafi’s fall had turned into Terrorist Central in North Africa, in a city where escalating terrorist attacks against Western targets had forced every other Western nation but the US to retreat. As this also states, a visit by Panetta in December 2011, ten months before the attack, led the DoD to offer a Marine unit for security, which State refused.

Both agencies knew that Benghazi was a sitting duck, and yet the State Department did nothing to bolster security and the DoD did nothing to bolster readiness on the anniversary of 9/11. This is sheer incompetence stacked on more incompetence. That’s the scandal.

Addendum: Let’s not forget that whatever Panetta told Obama about the attack, Obama didn’t take enough of an interest to ask for a follow-up from his Secretary of Defense.

Update: In a loosely-related note, Dianne Feinstein isn’t buying what the New York Times is shilling on Benghazi, either:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) rejected the Times’s conclusion that al Qaeda wasn’t responsible for the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. She also took issue with the notion that the Libya strike was sparked by a U.S.-made anti-Islam video online.

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“I believe that groups loosely associated with al Qaeda were” involved in the attack, she told The Hill last week. “That’s my understanding.”

She also disputed the notion that the Sept. 11, 2012, assault evolved from a protest against the video, which was widely disseminated by Islamic clerics shortly before the attack.

“It doesn’t jibe with me,” she said.

Given that the US formally accused Abu Sufian bin Qumu of participating in the attack just days after David Kirkpatrick claimed that the US didn’t think he was involved, I’d call the NYT version a bit of a dead letter.


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Both agencies knew that Benghazi was a sitting duck, and yet the State Department did nothing to bolster security and the DoD did nothing to bolster readiness on the anniversary of 9/11. This is sheer incompetence stacked on more incompetence. That’s the scandal.

Where was the Commander in Chief again…?

Seven Percent Solution on January 14, 2014 at 3:42 PM

hawkdriver on January 14, 2014 at 2:22 PM
You keep saying I was wrong and proved to be.
Whatever.

You said the EITs didn’t provide information that led to the UBL. We showed you Leon Penetta said they did. Wrong.

You said the obama Administration acknowledged it was an attack. They called it spontaneous violence due to an online video about Islam. Wrong.

You’re pathetic.

As for your last accusation…shove it.

Aren’t you Joe Civility? Did we strike a nerve here?

I see the deaths in Libya as nothing less than terrible and tragic as well as fully preventable. I’d welcome some push back on the personal attacks here on Ambassador Stevens from others besides me.
I’ve always said I welcome actual oversight and real reform…so that nothing like that ever happens again.
I in no way question your genuine concern for the well being of all who serve…along with those who have and who will.

verbaluce on January 14, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Your comments are in this very thread. Wrong.

hawkdriver on January 14, 2014 at 3:46 PM

your callous disregard for the lives of the men lost in Libya…
hawkdriver on January 14, 2014 at 2:22 PM

As for your last accusation…shove it.

Aren’t you Joe Civility? Did we strike a nerve here?

hawkdriver on January 14, 2014 at 3:46 PM

Gee, yea.
I think I do very well maintaining my civility here.
I can’t imagine you’d dare make the same claim about yourself.
I know you feel you’re entitled.
But maybe even you take a breath and give pause now and then.
It’d do you good.

verbaluce on January 14, 2014 at 3:56 PM

I’ve been a Rec Sox fan at a Yankees Stadium,

verbaloon on January 14, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Deflection attempt duly noted.

A+

Del Dolemonte on January 14, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Gee, yea.

This … make zero sense. Dismissed as fluff.

I think I do very well maintaining my civility here.

I can’t imagine you’d dare make the same claim about yourself.
I know you feel you’re entitled.

I’d say that’s my general reputation.

But maybe even you take a breath and give pause now and then.
It’d do you good.

verbaluce on January 14, 2014 at 3:56 PM

This crap you type here; why do you even waste your time? Commenters are surrounding you with your misstatements and clearly proving you wrong. Do you really think you side-track the conversation so easily.

You said the EITs didn’t provide information that led to the UBL. We showed you Leon Penetta said they did. Wrong.

You said the obama Administration acknowledged it was an attack. They called it spontaneous violence due to an online video about Islam. Wrong.

You’re pathetic.

hawkdriver on January 14, 2014 at 4:11 PM

Gosh, who wouldda ever guessed that an attack in present-day Libya could be terrorist-related.

bw222 on January 14, 2014 at 4:40 PM

Fortunately, there are no bridges in Benghazi.

Christien on January 14, 2014 at 5:05 PM

hawkdriver on January 14, 2014 at 4:11 PM

As much as I know it’s pointless to try and point anything at all out to you – let’s be clear: Panetta acknowledged – as I did – that detainees had been subjected to EIT. He did not say that they had provided THE crucial intelligence as a result of that. In fact, as I also noted, the related data they got from KSM came much much later – as a result of standard interrogation techniques.
But again – as I tried so hard to get you to understand about my argument – it’s irrelevant. My position is that even IF it’s effective, it is wrong. You refuse to respond to that. You’re too busy trying to play some b.s. ‘gotcha!’ game.
Panetta also said both that he was opposed to EIT and that he believed even if there’s was any EIT info that assisted in finding Osama, they could have garnered the same info without.
Your argument is the same as suggesting that because a nail gets driven in with a sledgehammer, that proves it couldn’t be driven in with a rock.
But I have no idea what it would take for you to be able to see a point made in an argument and then actually respond to that point.
Maybe if you didn’t spend so much time being so pissy?
Maybe not.

verbaluce on January 14, 2014 at 5:19 PM

I see the deaths in Libya as nothing less than terrible and tragic as well as fully preventable.

verbaluce on January 14, 2014 at 3:01 PM

And if it were Bush and if it were Bush who ran off to Vegas your screams would have been deafening.

THE crucial intelligence
verbaluce on January 14, 2014 at 5:19 PM

Spin on .You’re embarrassing you and your tiresome support for Obama. Just sad. One day you’re think for yourself.

CWchangedhisNicagain on January 14, 2014 at 6:24 PM

*you’ll

CWchangedhisNicagain on January 14, 2014 at 6:25 PM

Verbal is the type that a Hitler would love. All to ready to hold his ball sack.

CWchangedhisNicagain on January 14, 2014 at 6:27 PM

hawkdriver on January 14, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Long time no see.

Welcome back.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on January 14, 2014 at 10:40 AM

I’ll second that sentiment. Or third it…or fourth it. I haven’t read all of the comments so I don’t know where I fall in line at. But in any case, welcome back, Hawk.

Moose Drool on January 14, 2014 at 6:40 PM

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on January 14, 2014 at 10:40 AM

I’ll second that sentiment. Or third it…or fourth it. I haven’t read all of the comments so I don’t know where I fall in line at. But in any case, welcome back, Hawk.
Moose Drool on January 14, 2014 at 6:40 PM

Thanks guys.

hawkdriver on January 14, 2014 at 8:25 PM

hawkdriver on January 14, 2014 at 8:25 PM

Of course, I haven’t exactly been busy on here lately myself. I’m just coming out of the alcohol-induced coma I put myself into the day after O’Bumbles got re-elected.

Moose Drool on January 14, 2014 at 8:47 PM

As much as I know it’s pointless to try and point anything at all out to you – let’s be clear: Panetta acknowledged – as I did – that detainees had been subjected to EIT. He did not say that they had provided THE crucial intelligence as a result of that.

Not what you said before but let’s go with that.

Let me ask you one more time. Are you sticking with your assertion that enhanced interrogation techniques did not yield actionable intelligence in the mission to kill UBL?

Yes or No?

hawkdriver on January 10, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Yes

verbaluce on January 10, 2014 at 1:09 PM

Your man, Leon Penetta disagrees. Of course you’re going to have to consider that this right-wing nut should only be taken with a grain of salt.

Penetta quoted in Telegraph.

hawkdriver on January 10, 2014 at 1:13 PM

On EIT…my position is that it wasn’t a factor in the eventual finding/killing of Obama.

verbaluce on January 10, 2014 at 1:19 PM

It’s short. You have to watch until the end.

hawkdriver on January 10, 2014 at 1:24 PM
I will.
BUT…have to run. Off to a conference…torture of another kind.

verbaluce on January 10, 2014 at 1:28 PM

And of course in the video you missed because you’re scared to see the truth lying about going to a conference, Brian Williams presses Penetta and he states EIT yielded data that was used in getting UBL.

You cannot rationalize it away. You were wrong. You might not like the practice. Argue that. Just don’t lie to move the goalposts.

Here’s the last thing. You’re not as intelligent or as clever as you think you are. When you make a comment in your dripping with condescension manner asserting we don’t know know what we’re talking about because we’re not understanding your inner meaning or that you’re speaking levels above us, we freaking laugh at you. You go on about claims that you best people here in discussions but you never have. Our worse gives you the business. You suck at debate and you know it. Ask yourself honestly how many times you backed away from the screen because someone has just totally handed you your ass? I can’t count how many times rogerb has hoisted your 4th point of contact and delivered it to your for safekeeping. You’re a joke here. You bailing on debates because you can’t prove your points is legend. Blink, Del, everyone kicks your tush.

Bud, you just suck.

Plus, I’d still bet big bucks you’re nothing but a sockpuppet of libfreeordeathtomediahacks anyway.

hawkdriver on January 14, 2014 at 9:02 PM

hawkdriver on January 14, 2014 at 8:25 PM
Of course, I haven’t exactly been busy on here lately myself. I’m just coming out of the alcohol-induced coma I put myself into the day after O’Bumbles got re-elected.

Moose Drool on January 14, 2014 at 8:47 PM

lol, Welcome back then.

hawkdriver on January 14, 2014 at 9:04 PM

verbaluce on January 14, 2014 at 12:25 PM

“Geez”. Libfree says that a lot too.

hawkdriver on January 14, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Maybe it’s a “gay thing”; and we just wouldn’t understand.

Solaratov on January 14, 2014 at 10:00 PM

Maybe if you didn’t spend so much time being so pissy?
Maybe not.

verbaloon on January 14, 2014 at 5:19 PM

Having your period?

Del Dolemonte on January 14, 2014 at 10:32 PM

Kind of surprised that Feinstein is trying to be on the right side of the issue now – contradicting the NYT seems so “undemocratic”. Does she know something we don’t? Is a Benghazi hammer about to fall?

It’s going to be entertaining, if Hillary ever gets another run at the presidency to loop her ads about the “3am call” alongside her disgraceful performance in front of the Benghazi inquiry.

virgo on January 14, 2014 at 11:23 PM

Panetta acknowledged – as I did – that detainees had been subjected to EIT. He did not say that they had provided THE crucial intelligence as a result of that.

But I have no idea.

verbaloon on January 14, 2014 at 5:19 PM

But (Democrat Adult In Charge) Leon Panetta also said that EIT directly led to OBL. When we linked his actual words, you suddenly decided that you needed to go into a caucus of your fellow hotheads.

When you can admit that Leon said that, we’ll stop laughing at you.

Oh, and A+ on Part 2.

Del Dolemonte on January 15, 2014 at 12:03 AM

This is no surprise to anyone. This is the dirty little obvious truth that everyone except the Liberals at the very top of our government knew. These stupid SOBs thought we were so ignorant that they could step in front of a microphone, tell us it was al labout a video, and if they pushed that lie enough we would believe it.

This is the most DIS-HONEST, LYING, SELF-PROMOTING, NARCISISTIC, POS we have EVER had the sorry luck of having as a President of the United States!

easyt65 on January 15, 2014 at 8:09 AM

I can’t count how many times rogerb has hoisted your 4th point of contact and delivered it to your for safekeeping. You’re a joke here. You bailing on debates because you can’t prove your points is legend. Blink, Del, everyone kicks your tush.

Bud, you just suck.

Plus, I’d still bet big bucks you’re nothing but a sockpuppet of libfreeordeathtomediahacks anyway.

hawkdriver on January 14, 2014 at 9:02 PM

Indeed you are well supported with backpats from your little group.
At the end of the day, you’re either able to argue your point substantively or not. But you feel you’ve ‘won’ because one of your backpatters calls me a name.
You know, in the EIT debate…for a brief moment you were actually engaging sans ad-hominem. But you just weren’t able to keep that going. Hey, it’s your club.
And you left out Solaratov. He says I’m wrong because I must be gay.
Yea, you got a real smart gang there.
Ha.
All right…for you, I’m gone again.
You are welcome.

verbaluce on January 15, 2014 at 10:06 AM

All right…for you, I’m gone again.
You are welcome.

verbaluce on January 15, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Confusing. You provided nothing gratitude would be appropriate to express for.

Man, you are fooling yourself or lying to yourself about your participation in the debates here. I’m not sure how many more ways you need to be shown how incorrect you are with your facts.

You said EIT didn’t lead to UBL. Leon Penetta says you’re wrong. You said the obama Administration characterized the Benghazi attack as an “attack” but dithered for nearly half a year calling it a spontaneous demonstration over an internet video about Islam.

You just wrong.

hawkdriver on January 15, 2014 at 10:25 AM

You’re just wrong.

yep

hawkdriver on January 15, 2014 at 10:43 AM

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