Benghazi – Where was the Commander-in-Chief?

By Paul E. Vallely (MG US Army – ret.), Chairman SUA

After the testimonies of Secretary Panetta, General Dempsey, and Hillary Clinton on the Benghazi tragedy, it appears the Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama was off duty and not available to make a hard decision to press the military Chain of Command to rescue Americans under attack. The cover up appears to be a White House order to “Stand Down” and not issue a rescue mission operational order. For over seven hours he did nothing; no communications with his National Security team, and then he flew to Las Vegas for a campaign stop. “Weakness and dithering and flying to Las Vegas the next day for celebrity fund-raising parties are somehow better.”

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, before the Senate Armed Services Committee. – J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The testimony revealed that Obama stated to Panetta and Dempsey, “Do what you have to do.” Where was the order to execute a rescue mission NOW Mr. President? The investigation regarding the 9/11 al Qaeda raid on Benghazi and the deaths of four brave Americans began, but to date it has no end or acceptable findings, and provides no answers for the families of the four murdered Americans.

I have promised Charles Woods, Father of Ty Woods, and family, that at Stand up America, we will press this investigation to the end. Malfeasance and ineptitude borne from a foreign policy steeped in naiveté in the least and complete indifference to threat conditions provided by the Intelligence Community has degenerated into a massive cover up of the facts on the ground and is minimized by political corruption and ineptness by the National Security team. What we have had is myriad conflicting and/or changing stories and moving people and parts from all manner of sources, players, and decisions makers. We have internet rumors, official statements, hearings, in camera probes, an ARB report, talking heads ad nauseum, political spin and a very clear ‘circling of the wagons’ where blame encompasses all involved within the Obama circle of influence.

We have witnessed hearings that were more congratulatory than probative, and a steady parade of the changing of the guard. Facts cannot be disputed, yet access to facts has been impossible. The objective has been to obscure actions to prevent the ability to sift through the events, conjecture, political rhetoric, and the steady attempt to move beyond the elections and to the cabinet changes; especially by those of us without high clearance in ‘fly-over’ country.

The cumulative effect of all these facets is that one must suspend all manner of logic and reason to swallow the miasmic trail. This is precisely the point – there has been an obvious attempt to muddy the waters, ‘chill the mark’, and deflect focus. It expected the onlooker to be so confused they have to just look away, feel bad for the losses, and swallow that this is all a learning experience and rest assured that they will all try harder, now under newer administration.

Figure 2 – Where was the President for seven hours without communicating with his National Security Team after only a twenty minute meeting with them? Then flew to Las Vegas the next day?

The most cogent report to date on Benghazi was crafted by Senators Lieberman and Collins but it does not go deep enough into the weeds with regard to dereliction of duty, omissions, waivers, mission, objective, and names to hold responsible. We need to know without varnish, spin, and purposeful evasion what did and did not take place during the events as they unfolded, and an adult, clear minded understanding of what was at stake that prompted people to make poor and deadly decisions. We must first start with how the lines of communication would have unfolded, where decision making nodes occurred, what those decisions were, and why they were made.

Most important, where was the President? Was he ‘absent’? Absent, really? No, he just did not want to make himself available and have to make a difficult decision or have his actions traced with any paper trail. He seems to hide or not be available when the going gets tough? What, the President is unavailable during a crisis?

All citizens must ask the following questions and more, and demand a complete map to understand how our government is supposed to work at the highest levels in times of crisis by those who took the oath of office:

  1. Career professionals in the CIA, the Military, the State Department, and other integral professionals including the National Security Team are trained and expected to ensure all Americans and USA interests are protected at all costs. To many, Benghazi was likely the apex of their respective careers to prove their worth and value. How could so many fail and hide the realities of terror attacks and threats and as one Senator asked who was in charge or supposed to be in charge?
  2. The entire National Security apparatus was well aware of the events leading up to and including the attack(s) on Libya and beyond, so why the indifference and lack of any response?
  3. Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey admitted during their testimony that there is no firehouse mentality, the question is why as this is outside the scope of Rules of Engagement and historical training?
  4. The Benghazi annex was the largest CIA base in North Africa.  The primary mission was to chase the illicit and illegal arms stream as well as the Middle East militia members. The question is how far reaching and effective was this mission for the end result to be terror attacks and death and how politically charged was this to the administration’s overall goals in the Magreb and Middle East and beyond?
  5. Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey clearly both revealed that the meeting with Barack Obama on 9-11 was thirty minutes long and only 20 of the thirty minutes centered on Benghazi. Just how deep was the commitment of Obama to re-election versus Foreign Service officers in Libya and beyond as more than 20 locations had demonstrations or attacks against the United States during the week of 9-11?
  6. Did Hillary Clinton sign a waiver to deny Marine security at both locations in Libya to include Tripoli and Benghazi despite Congressional laws against her actions (SECCA) perhaps in favor of government contractors like Blue Mountain or DynCorp and did the administration wave off rescue missions?
  7. While General Ham was in Washington, DC. on 9-11-12, who gave orders for any and all actions or lack of actions in Benghazi including the dispatch and re-dispatch of surveillance drones and in favor of what?
  8. Given that several hundred terror-related incidents occurred in Libya over the previous 24 months in Benghazi, where are the surveillance drone videos, and who assessed the conditions on the ground with regard to weapons and militias?
  9. The members of the Accountability Review Board (ARB) were chosen by Hillary Clinton and with the classified and non-classified publication of the ARB, the matter of the terror attack has been insufficiently addressed. Congress gave Hillary Clinton many questions, both within and without the scope of her testimony. Where are her written responses and those members of the ARB that she promised after her testimony?

The weak link also appears to be the representations made by Hillary Clinton and others about the communications protocols in the event of a most critical incident (referred to as ‘critics’ in the community) in one of the ‘hottest’ spots on Earth. It is a matter of procedure that communications between selected embassies, if not all embassies, have an Imminent Danger Alert System that is directly ‘on-hook’ with at least four destinations which include: the White House Situation Room (WHSR), the State Department Operations Center, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Pentagon. ‘Critics’ are graded with an urgency status, and in the matter of Benghazi, the ladder of escalation included the top urgency status, calling for an immediate and urgent response.

Why haven’t we seen or heard the Situation Reports (SitReps) from the witnesses from Benghazi including all those located or functioning out of either or both the compound and annex? How many non-American people were there or co-located there? Due to the nature of the attack(s), how many people in total have died or been injured and for those that died, were autopsies performed? Why haven’t the estimated 32 survivors been interviewed; where and who are they?

Secretary Clinton correctly admitted that Marine detachments are assigned to diplomatic posts to guard classified material from being compromised. So why aren’t our elected Congressmen NOW publicly discussing the “Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act of 1999” (SECCA) over her decision not to have Marines at Benghazi? In the absence of a Marine assignment how many government contractors were under contract to assume the same duties of Marines and why would we allow the Libyan government to approve our hires?

Figure 3 – Tyrone Woods’ father Charles on Fox News

The functional security budget for Benghazi alone was $ 11 million. Blue Mountain was a ‘no bullet’ contract and the hiring of the February 17th Brigade to provide outside security to the compound was mired in a labor dispute due to the number and time of working hours, working conditions, and pay scale. Many members of the February 17th Brigade were on strike at the time of the attacks and many fled prior.

The administration allowed a well armed, well trained, 16 member security forces to be removed from Libya in August, about a month before the attack. They were to eventually be replaced by a Libya security force who Ambassador Stevens wrote could not be trusted because it was forbidden to vet the personnel under Libyan government rules.

The House Oversight Committee had documentation that the WHSR started receiving emails that the mission was under hostile surveillance as early as 1 PM, on the day of the attack. The WH/DoD/Pentagon ordered the drone to the location to video the actions at the compound. No order or permission was provided to the CIA annex to render assistance to those under attack at the mission as the attack was imminent and later under assault.

Those at the annex, without DC knowledge or approval, later did provide lethal protections and countermeasures as no other military assistance was dispatched. As soon as the attacks began, the mission sounded an audible alarm for the whole compound, alerting Tripoli and the Diplomatic Security in Washington DC. The Diplomatic Security headquarters in DC which resides in the State Department also went to the Department of Defense while DSHQ maintained opened communications with the mission during the whole attack. At this time, the CIA annex was also alerted and told to prepare to aid personnel.

Where was the President? ‘Absent’ yet?

The administration refuses to fully describe the nature of the personnel in Tripoli that were dispatched to Benghazi on a chartered aircraft. They were however, not Marines, but likely a hired substitute group FAST team of government contractors. It has been stated under oath that there were no assets within any favorable distance or within time constraints to respond to the attack in Benghazi, why? As Libya was the highest threat and greatest hotspot for attack, no proactive measures were in place for more than two years and no one took any initiative to either offer, or better still, demand rescue and safety measures for Benghazi or other locations including Cairo, Tunis, or any number of other diplomatic posts.

President Obama speaks to supporters last month during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. – Isaac Brekken

Where was the ‘Fire Station’ set up for any and all contingencies that were more than likely to occur? There were no contingency plans or a ‘firehouse’ set up in one of the most fire prone areas where Americans were in harm’s way. Leadership?

Given the ‘on-hook’ destinations of communications coming from Benghazi pleading for assistance, there were an estimated 300 to 400 personnel in national security positions that were receiving the emails, the encrypted mobile texts, or simply desperate phone calls via secured systems. After the dismissal of the national security officials, all actions were handed off to the NSC and the military command center – ‘nothing else to see here folks back to business as usual.’

Remember, the President of the United States is NEVER, EVER more than a few minutes from secure communications… ‘Absent’? AWOL?

Dianne Feinstein, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee said lawmakers viewed the video of the mission showing the post before the attack, the full set of incidents, and the exodus. These videos were a combination of surveillance cameras at the compound and the drone feed. The video(s) included the Ambassador’s body being dragged out of a building. This speaks to and proves that an ‘anti-Muslim’ YouTube video was clearly not the reason for the attack as fabricated by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Susan Rice. David Petraeus did provide an immediate assessment that the attack was performed by a radical Islamists group known as Ansar al Sharia.

They knew immediately, and there never was any question despite what many surrogates have said, even during Thursday’s hearings.

It is an indisputable fact that much of the objective in Benghazi was to restore order from a pre and post Qaddafi regime. Much of the order included identifying lethal weapons smuggling, in and out of Libya, to destinations that include Turkey, Syria, Mali, Iraq, and Algeria to list a few countries. A buyback program was initiated by the CIA in the area for high grade military weapons that included manpads and stinger missiles.

The U.S. government under the Obama administration did in fact provide lethal weaponry to Libyan rebels for the eventual overthrow of Qaddafi and the same is true in Syria. So a high grade weapons pipeline was established, chased, smuggled, and transferred. This now begs additional questions that include who did the State Department and the Department of Defense hire for all parts of all missions in the Middle East? Could it be that the four dead Americans were actually killed with weapons provided by the United States that eventually went to the wrong hands?

Did the United States solicit historically recognized jihadists/Islamists of known and unknown quantity and quality via militias from the start to the finish in overthrowing Libya strongman Qaddafi and beyond? Should attention be placed on a domestic arms security company known as Turi Defense Group out of Las Vegas who was in communication with Benghazi? Marc Turi is/was an authorized GSA arms vendor that held several government contracts for providing arms that included destinations such as Qatar and other Gulf States, all at the core of providing lethal military grade weapons as directed by the Obama administration. Incidentally, Turi lives in Arizona and his home was raided by Federal law enforcement in 2012.

The State Department applied millions of dollars to Libya under the premise of grants and humanitarian aid and to what accounting have these monies been scrutinized to date and/or will be in the near future? Simple searches on open sources have shown that more than $30 million was assigned for various objectives in Libya in a post Qaddafi landscape. Have those funds or unspent funds been accounted for?

What is the status today of the FBI investigation into Benghazi? Hillary Clinton, in her testimony, said many things, one of which was that al Qaeda is a “brand.” This speaks to the matter that there are several associated militias in Libya and MENA that include Ansar al Sharia or any other factions and may also include members of the February 17th Brigade. At the time of the attack, there were only three members of the February 17th Brigade at the compound who were actually deputized by the Libyan government.

The most shocking point spoken by Hillary Clinton was “what difference at this point does it make?” She went on to say, “to be clear, it is from my perspective, less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice.” These two statements are key as they speak to timing, both of which point to pre-election conditions of Barack Obama and post-election conditions as the administration maintains power to ensure the facts on Benghazi remain opaque and oblique.

All deference was paid to Libyan placeholders as they demanded that any official rescue teams had to dress in civilian clothing to keep tensions at a minimum. 300 threats were provided from the intelligence community yet blame is placed back on the intelligence community saying that none of the intelligence was actionable per Panetta’s testimony. General Ham was in constant communications with the Ambassador in Libya for many months. He delivered specific reports to General Dempsey, of which Dempsey admitted he received, and was well aware of conditions, yet never offered or suggested an increase of security or military assets as a safety measure. He also did not set up any contingency plans such as the ‘Fire Station’ to handle any eventuality. This is completely against all military policy throughout the ranks and now sends a very sad message – ‘will they have my back no matter where I am assigned?’

Figure 5 – President Barack Obama meets with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Situation Room of the White House, June 23, 2010. Isn’t this what you would envision was supposed to take place that day and night?

Both Secretary Panetta and Martin Dempsey testified that after the one single meeting for thirty minutes at the White House, there were no further conversations with the President regarding Benghazi and that includes not only Barack Obama, but Hillary Clinton and David Petraeus. The matter for all involved was closed and an Executive Privilege was attached to 9-11-12 Presidential Daily Briefings (PDHs) associated to Libya for public or investigative purposes. The investigation as we are told is in the hands of the FBI and the Department of Justice to determine if there will ever be enough to build a case for future prosecution of the terrorists involved.

Panetta admitted in his testimony that the terrorists are emboldened, regardless of capture or response possibilities now, which in summary, is the most disturbing revelation of all. The threat to American safety and assets across the globe remain at high risk, yet there is no ordered readiness condition to save our brothers and sisters or sovereign locations worldwide.

Where was the President? Our sources tell us, that though he was ‘absent’, he indeed gave the ‘stand-down’ orders. Prior to that, it was his naïve approach, inept preparation and response to obvious needs that set the scene in place – the most obvious day for retaliatory action on the part of al Qaeda. What are we being asked to believe?

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Research and contributing to this article are SUA Staff members Denise Simon and Monica Morrill; Edited by Scott W. Winchell.

Obama Slashes Border Security

Editor’s Note – This topic is apparently so beaten to death that no one in the Department of Homeland Security or at the Justice Department wants to talk about it from this point forward and that includes the money allocated from Appropriations. If there are any non-believers out there that think Washington DC does not care about the Southern Border and the associated corruption and failed national security interests, then just spend one full day on the border, but bring along your own security.

Technology, humanitarian aid, and financial military support goes to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the billions of dollars but this White House has decided to trim the border security at our Southern border by half when it comes to assets and construction of the fence. Sure, it does not need to be a physical fence, but understand there are hundreds of miles exposed with no line of demarcation. The bottom line is, any borders with no protection of any sort is a failure of national security.

Please read the two articles below:

Obama Has Halved Spending on Border Fencing, Infrastructure, Technology–Leaving 1,300 Miles of Mexico Border Unfenced

By Edwin Mora

CNS News

(CNSNews.com) – The Obama administration has slashed spending on border fencing, infrastructure and technology, cutting it by more than half since it peaked under President George W. Bush in fiscal 2008, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

In 2008, according to GAO, the federal government spent more than $1.3 billion on border security fencing, infrastructure and technology. In 2011, it spend $573 million.

Meanwhile, Customs and Border Protection has said that as of June it had fenced only 649 miles of the nearly 1,954-mile-long U.S.-Mexico border–leaving more than 1,300 miles of that border unfenced.

The November 2011 GAO report refers to this category of federal spending by the acronym BSFIT.

“Over $4.7 billion has been appropriated for BSFIT activities from fiscal years 2007 through 2011,” it says.

The report breaks the figure down for the five consecutive fiscal years (the 12-month period from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 of the following year) – $1.188 billion for FY2007, $1.303 billion for FY2008, $845 million for FY2009, $800 million for FY2010 and $573 million for FY2011.

Over that period, the annual appropriations for border security therefore peaked in FY2008 under President Bush and declined to its lowest level in FY2011 under President Obama.

“An across-the-board cut to DHS appropriations of 0.2 percent reduced the BSFIT appropriation to $573 million [in fiscal 2011],” notes the GAO. The report added that some of the annual appropriations covered in the report do not expire at the end of the fiscal year for which they were allotted.

The report also stated that last January, “after 5 years and a cost of nearly $1 billion,” the DHS ended the Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet) – also known as the virtual fence – “because it did not meet cost-effectiveness and viability standards.”

“DHS is developing a successor plan to secure the Southwest border called the Alternative (Southwest) Border Technology plan,” the report adds. “The plan’s first phase is the Arizona Border Surveillance Technology Plan, which also includes a mix of radars, sensors, and cameras.” It is expected to cost about $1.5 billion over 10 years.

Explaining how the appropriations have been directed, the report said that in November 2005 the DHS initiated the Secure Border Initiative (SBI), described as “a multiyear, multibillion-dollar effort aimed at securing U.S. borders and reducing illegal immigration.”

Under the SBI, the DHS’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) implemented the following programs:

  • SBI Network (SBI): radars, sensors, and cameras along 53 miles of Arizona’s 376-mile border with Mexico;
  • Northern Border Program: cameras, radars, and operations centers along the border with Canada;
  • Tactical Communications Modernization: an upgrade to the CBP communications systems; and
  • Tactical Infrastructure – fences, roads, and lighting along the southwest border.

According to the CBP, as of the end of June 2011 it had completed 649 miles of pedestrian and vehicle fencing along the approximately 2,000 mile-long Southwest border.

“A total of 350 miles of primary pedestrian fence has been constructed, while the final total of vehicle fence (the project was officially completed on January 8, 2010) was 299 miles,” it says.

A “primary pedestrian fence” is aimed at preventing the illegal passage of people while a “vehicle fence” is focused on stopping the unauthorized passage of vehicles.

“Their placement depends on the threat at the location and the operational needs of law enforcement,” CBP says.

CBP is responsible for securing a total of 8,607 miles of the U.S. border, including about 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, approximately 4,000 miles of the U.S.-Canada border, plus sectors of coastline in the Gulf of Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

As of the end of fiscal 2010, the U.S. government had established “effective control” over 1,107 miles of the 8,607 miles it is responsible for securing – 69 miles along the northern border, 873 on the U.S.-Mexico border and 165 miles in coastal sectors.

Less than half of the southwest border and less than two percent of the northern border are therefore under “effective control.” The term applies to those areas where the U.S. government can be “reasonably” be expected to intercept illegal cross-border activity

The Holes Found in U.S. Border Fence Technology

After 20 years and billions of dollars, securing the southern border remains a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Why is it so hard to build a fence that works?

Popular Mechanics

By Dan Koeppel

As lines in the sand go, this steel structure is designed to be the toughest on earth to cross. The 15-foot-high fence extends west of Nogales into the Arizona desert, undulating and curving as it follows the border with Mexico. South of the fence, hillside houses rise beyond a hundred-yard-wide no man’s land. Some houses contain migrant laborers who will try—perhaps even tonight—to cross this line. A pickup truck makes its way up a gravel cut that zigzags across a hillside on the Mexican side. “He’s watching us,” says Border Patrol agent Mario Escalante. “He’s trying to gather intelligence—and so are we.”

This kind of fence—one of about a dozen different barrier types found along the southern border—has a name that sounds like something the Army would give its brawniest tank: the anti-ram. From a distance, it looks like an array of dark-colored vertical blinds.

On closer inspection, the slats reveal themselves to be steel pipes 4 inches in diameter filled with concrete poured around interior skeletons of rebar. The fence is modular, built in segmented panels 8 feet wide and sunk 6 feet into the ground.

One manufacturer claims it would take two men, each with a power saw, nearly 40 minutes to cut a 2-foot-wide hole in its anti-ram fencing, and they’d need to carry additional fuel and extra blades to do it. And if the fence’s name invokes images of an impenetrable barrier to powerful machines, it should—some anti-ram fences are designed to withstand a 40-mph impact by a 10,000-pound vehicle. Such defensive measures don’t come cheap: The average cost of vehicle fencing is $1 million per mile.

For more than 20 years, politicians from both parties have held the same basic position on the nation’s frontiers. “First, the United States must secure its borders,” President George W. Bush said on May 15, 2006. “This is a basic responsibility of a sovereign nation.” President Obama noted on April 29, 2010: “It is the federal government’s responsibility to enforce the law and secure our borders. . . .”

Few political leaders have disagreed with these sweeping sentiments. And polls show that about 60 percent of Americans are in favor of a barrier that they believe will curb illegal immigration, drug smuggling and terrorists.

Since 1990, the U.S. has barricaded about 650 miles of the nearly 2000-mile border with everything from rudimentary barbed wire to fencing made of Army surplus helicopter landing mats to three-sided steel barriers that look like bulked-up versions of the tritons that littered the World War II beaches of Normandy. More recent designs include concrete and steel bollards—vehicle-stopping posts similar to the kind found at entrances to government buildings, office towers and shopping malls. Some of the most expensive barriers—remotely operated surveillance systems—have been deployed in several field tests but with disappointing results.

Despite all the time, effort and money spent on both physical and virtual fences, about 175,000 migrants, mostly coming for work, made it past existing barriers in 2008. After decades of effort, bipartisan consensus and billions of dollars, America’s southern border seems as permeable as ever. And the frustrated American public wants to know: What’s so hard about building a fence?

At the headquarters of the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector, in a room filled with video monitors, agents play for me a recording made two weeks ago, in early January. The incident began with a hit from a motion sensor buried 50 miles south in the Sonoran Desert.

Read the rest here: Popular Mechanics