Source: Only President Could Have Made 'Stand Down' Call On Benghazi
A source with intimate information about the events that happened on the ground in Benghazi the night the U.S. Consulate and the CIA annex was attacked by terrorists told Breitbart News that, ultimately, only the President of the United States, or someone acting on his authority, could have prevented Special Forces either on the ground or nearby from helping those Americans who were under deadly assault.
According to the source, when the attack on the Consulate occurred, a specific chain of command to gain verbal permission to move special-forces in must have occurred. SOCAFRICA commander Lieutenant Col. Gibson would have contacted a desk officer at the time, asking for that permission.
That desk officer would have called Marine Corps Col. George Bristol, then in command of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara. From there, Bristol would have made contact with Rear Admiral Brian Losey, then Commander of Special Operations Command Africa. Losey would have contacted four-star General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. AFRICOM at the time.
“Ham answers directly to the President of the United States,” said the source. It wasn’t a low-level bureaucrat making the call, the source adamantly added.
That call may have been made early in the engagement. Both Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey testified in January that they had no further communication with President Barack Obama after an initial briefing in the early hours of the Benghazi crisis, which continued through the night.
But what about then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?
“I have a hard time thinking it was Hillary alone. Hillary may have tried to circumvent the counterterrorism board and deal with this. I think in order for her to tell General Ham, ‘No, you’re not going to get involved,' she would have had to talk to the president. The president would have had to say, ‘No, take your commands from Hillary.’ He would have had said something, because Ham does not work for the Department of State; he works directly for the president,” the source explained.
The lack of clarity surrounding orders given during the Benghazi attacks is a stark contrast to the clarity projected after the successful Osama bin Laden raid in May 2011, when administration officials were keen to attribute responsibility for the orders to the president.
Witnesses with firsthand information about the Benghazi attacks will appear before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
State Department employees Mark Thompson, Gregory Hicks, and Eric Nordstrom are expected to be whistleblower witnesses who will reveal information about State’s reaction to the attacks that has not been released previously.
AWR Hawkins contributed to this report.