Benghazi report finds fault in DOD response to 2012 attacks
Stars and Stripes | .
published: June 29, 2016
WASHINGTON — Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi sharply criticized the military’s response to the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks in Libya in a final report released Tuesday on the events that led to the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
The attacks caught the military flat-footed, the report said, with no assets to respond immediately, despite heightened security that should have been in place in light of the Sept. 11 anniversary. Other factors also delayed the military response, according to the 800-page report based on a two-year, $7 million investigation. An apparent misunderstanding as to whether the two teams best positioned to respond – two Fleet Antiterrorism Security Teams based at Rota, Spain -- had orders to “prepare” to deploy or actual orders to deploy led to further delays, the report found.
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“By 7:00 p.m. in Washington [1:00 a.m. in Benghazi], nearly three hours after the attacks began, the Secretary [of Defense Leon Panetta] issued what he believed, then and now, to be the only order needed to move the FAST platoons. … Yet nearly two more hours elapsed before the Secretary’s orders were relayed to those forces. Several more hours elapsed before any of those forces moved. During those crucial hours between the Secretary’s order and the actual movement of forces, no one stood watch to steer the Defense Department’s bureaucratic behemoth forward to ensure the Secretary’s orders were carried out with the urgency demanded by the lives at stake in Benghazi,” the report found.
The operation had difficulty obtaining Libyan clearance to land in the country and deploy resources for the rescue, the report found. The two platoons did not have dedicated airlift, nor did they have vehicles so they could move once they were on the ground.