Gregory Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Libya, testified that U.S. special forces were told to “stand down” instead of carry out a relief mission to Benghazi once the terror attack was under way.
Hicks said the special forces personnel were “furious” that they were not allowed to go.
The testimony raises a key question–who gave the “stand down” order? In the chain of command, the three possibilities are President Obama, Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta, and commander of AFRICOM Gen. Carter Ham. These are the three who could have given a “go” or “stand down” order, although Gen. Ham’s authority to do so would have been limited to the window of time between which he gained knowledge of the events in Benghazi and the time President Obama learned of the same.
Unless, of course, Obama gave a standing order at the outset forbidding the Sec. of Defense and AFRICOM from sending military force.
Another option is that an agreement banning the use of U.S. special forces, or U.S. military force in general, for certain parts of Libya was negotiated between the Obama admin and the Libyan government after Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown. No one has denied or confirmed this, but if it were the case, Sec. of State Hillary Clinton would have had to re-negotiate the agreement to open the door for the use of force, after which Obama, Panetta, or Ham could have given the “go” or “stand down” order.
The testimony is a gray area that needs to be cleared up.