Today's must-read: Bing West: First, Aid the Living
Our diplomats fought for seven hours without any aid from outside the country. Four Americans died while the Obama national-security team and our military passively watched and listened. The administration is being criticized for ignoring security needs before the attack and for falsely attributing the assault to a mob. But the most severe failure has gone unnoticed: namely, a failure to aid the living.
By 4:30 p.m. Washington time, the main consulate building was on fire and Ambassador Stevens was missing. In response, the embassy in Tripoli launched an aircraft carrying 22 men. Benghazi was 400 miles away.
At 5 p.m., President Obama met with Vice President Biden and Secretary of Defense Panetta in the Oval Office. The U.S. military base in Sigonella, Sicily, was 480 miles away from Benghazi. Stationed at Sigonella were Special Operations Forces, transport aircraft, and attack aircraft — a much more formidable force than 22 men from the embassy.
In the past, presidents had taken immediate actions to protect Americans. In 1984, President Reagan had ordered U.S. pilots to force an airliner carrying terrorists to land at Sigonella. Reagan had acted inside a 90-minute window while the aircraft with the terrorists was in the air. The Obama national-security team had several hours in which to move forces from Sigonella to Benghazi.
Fighter jets could have been at Benghazi in an hour; the commandos inside three hours. If the attackers were a mob, as intelligence reported, then an F18 in afterburner, roaring like a lion, would unnerve them. This procedure was applied often in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Conversely, if the attackers were terrorists, then the U.S. commandos would eliminate them. But no forces were dispatched from Sigonella. [. . .]
It is bewildering that no U.S. aircraft ever came to the aid of the defenders. If even one F18 had been on station, it would have detected the location of hostiles firing at night and deterred and attacked the mortar sites. For our top leadership, with all the technological and military tools at their disposal, to have done nothing for seven hours was a joint civilian and military failure of initiative and nerve.
Read the rest. If, at the debate tonight, neither Bob Schieffer nor Mitt Romney choose to ask any questions about Obama's shameful failure to act, all we'll have left (since the president declines to answer questions even from his own fawning liberal media) is Jay Leno. He'll be interviewing President Empty Chair on Wednesday. Not that it will do any good, but I suggest we bombard Leno's Twitter account with requests for him to ask the Commander-in-Chief why he went to bed that night without authorizing the US military to engage in a rescue of Amb. Stevens and company. That he didn't bother is a national disgrace, and it's being compounded by those in the liberal media who decline to dig and demand answers. To bore you all with the obvious, try to imagine the media firestorm had a debacle like this occurred under George Bush.
See also Sharyl Attkisson: Could US military have helped during Libya attack?
On 9/11/12, America had technological capability and military superiority, but no leadership. Instead, for eight hours, the most powerful men in Washington sat and watched but declined to act. And so in Benghazi as elsewhere in the Obama era, America is a spectator in its own fate.Read the rest.
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