The question of whether rescue was possible for the four Americans who were murdered by terrorists in Benghazi has haunted the debate for years, with defenders of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton insisting that unless “smoking gun” proof of a “stand down” order delivered to choppers full of Marines could be uncovered, they were guilty of no wrongdoing.
The House Benghazi Committee report settles the matter conclusively: rescue should have been possible. There was a Plan B, after all, but the Obama White House and Secretary of State Clinton ruined it.
NBC News runs through several horrifying conclusions from the report, including the astounding revelation that Obama and Clinton did not know who their Libyan allies on the ground were:
The Republican majority’s report found that 35 Americans were saved not by a “quasi-governmental militia” as previous reports concluded, or even a group the U.S. saw as allies. Instead, the report determines that the Americans were saved by the “Libyan Military Intelligence,” a group composed of military officers under the Moammar Khaddafy regime, the Libyan dictator who the U.S. helped topple just one year earlier.
The February 17 Martyr Brigade, “recommended by the Libyan Government and contractually obligated to provide security to the Mission Compound,” had fled, the report found. “In other words, some of the very individuals the United States helped remove from power during the Libyan revolution were the only Libyans that came to the assistance of the United States on the night of the Benghazi attacks,” the report states.
Obama and Clinton’s allies reportedly fled the scene, leaving the late Moammar Qaddafi’s forces to save American lives.
As for that U.S. rescue “Plan B,” it was ordered by a cabinet secretary, not Hillary Clinton. It came from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. His orders were not carried out, and one of the reasons is that the State Department and the Pentagon were going back and forth about whether it was appropriate for the Marines to wear their uniforms on the rescue mission (emphasis added):
“What was disturbing from the evidence the Committee found was that at the time of the final lethal attack at the Annex, no asset ordered deployed by the Secretary had even left the ground,” the report states.
Previous accounts blamed the “tyranny of time and distance” plus the failure to have airplanes ready for the significant delay in moving military assets. But the report states conflicting orders from State Department and Pentagon officials over whether Marines should wear military uniforms or civilian attire also played a role.
In a newly revealed two-hour secure video conference on the night of the attacks led by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and attended by Clinton and others, State Department officials raised concerns about the diplomatic sensitivities of the attire to be worn by assets launched.
One commander stated that “during the course of three hours, he and his Marines changed in and out of their uniforms four times.”
Furthermore, officials back in Washington mistakenly believed the attack was over when they joined an emergency video conference on the situation, with the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff heading off to host a dinner party for foreign dignitaries.
“It is one thing to try and fail; it is yet another not to try at all,” the House Benghazi Committee concluded. “In the end, the Administration did not move heaven and earth to help our people in Benghazi, as Americans would expect. The contrast between the heroic actions taken in Benghazi, and the inaction in Washington, highlights the failure.”