Fox Uses Unnamed Source To Revive Discredited Myth That Response To Benghazi Was Inadequate
Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP & LAURA SANTHANAM
Fox's Bret Baier hosted a confidential informant to express his opinion that the Obama administration could have aided staff who were killed during the September 11, 2012, attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, an opinion refuted by military experts and nonpartisan analysis.
On the April 29 edition of Special Report, Baier claimed that new details from a confidential source refutes the Obama administration's claim that "there was no help available for the Americans under assault in Libya" that would have changed the outcome of the attack. During an interview with Fox correspondent Adam Housley, a confidential Special Forces operator who monitored the events in Benghazi claimed that "there were at least two military units that could have made it in time" to respond in Benghazi. Fox's source claimed that one of those units was a group that was "training in Croatia":
But the informant's claim is nothing new. Accusing President Obama of failing to mobilize forces in order to respond to Benghazi, including the specific forces referenced by the source, has been a central point in the right-wing media's campaign to use Benghazi to damage Obama politically. However, numerous reports, including nonpartisan analyses, agree with the Obama administration's finding that no other assets than those sent to respond to the attacks were available in time to affect the outcome of the attack.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified that the attack in Benghazi was over before the U.S. military had sufficient information on which to act. A November New York Times article reported that special forces training in Croatia tried to help the embassy in Benghazi, but they were too late to save the lives of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three Americans:
About three hours after the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, came under attack, the Pentagon issued an urgent call for an array of quick-reaction forces, including an elite Special Forces team that was on a training mission in Croatia.
Gen. Carter Ham, head of Africa Command, seen last year, was in Washington for meetings when the attack took place.
The team dropped what it was doing and prepared to move to the Sigonella naval air station in Sicily, a short flight from Benghazi and other hot spots in the region. By the time the unit arrived at the base, however, the surviving Americans at the Benghazi mission had been evacuated to Tripoli, and Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were dead.
This report corroborated the CNN timeline of events based on Pentagon reports. In that timeline, CNN reported that the National Military Command Center authorized a pair of special operations force teams to go from Croatia to Benghazi shortly before 3 a.m. on September 12. From CNN:
2:39 a.m. to 2:53 a.m. -- The National Military Command Center gives formal authorization for the deployment of the two special operations force teams from Croatia and the United States.
5:15 a.m. -- Attackers launch assault on a second U.S. facility in Benghazi. Two former U.S. Navy SEALs acting as security contractors are killed. They are identified as Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
6:05 a.m. -- A C-17 aircraft in Germany is told to prepare to deploy to Libya to evacuate the consulate personnel.
7:40 a.m. -- The first wave of Americans are evacuated to Tripoli via airplane.
10 a.m. -- A second group, including those killed in the attack, are flown to Tripoli.
2:15 p.m. -- The C-17 departs from Germany for the flight to Tripoli.
7:17 p.m. -- The C-17 leaves Tripoli with the American consulate personnel and the bodies of Stevens, Smith, Woods and Doherty.
7:57 p.m. -- The U.S. special operations force team based in Croatia arrives at a staging base in Italy.
An independent review board agreed, noting that the "interagency response was timely and appropriate, but there simply was not enough time, given the speed of the attacks, for armed U.S. military assets to have made a difference":
The interagency response was timely and appropriate, but there simply was not enough time given the speed of the attacks for armed U.S. military assets to have made a difference. Senior-level interagency discussions were underway soon after Washington received initial word of the attacks and continued through the night. The Board found no evidence of any undue delays in decision making or denial of support from Washington or from the military combatant commanders. Quite the contrary: the safe evacuation of all U.S. government personnel from Benghazi twelve hours after the initial attack and subsequently to Ramstein Air Force Base was the result of exceptional U.S. government coordination and military response and helped save the lives of two severely wounded Americans.
Fox's source also contradicted Fox News' own experts who have explained that no assets could have responded in time to change the outcome of the attack in Benghazi. On the November 2 edition of Fox & Friends, retired General Jack Keane explained that "the CIA base was evacuated prior to their arrival at Sigonella, so they were never employed":
KEANE: The fact of the matter is, what took place in terms of response to the consulate and response to the CIA base was pretty significant from inside the country, and the reality is the quick response force that came out of the CIA base moved in 24 minutes -- now we know for a fact based on surveillance tapes, from the time the consulate called for help -- and clearly, what those people did is miraculous and certainly courageous in rescuing everybody was still alive. Also, a reaction force was organized from Tripoli and moved to the CIA base, which was under attack for four hours, and also strengthened that CIA base and then was able to safely evacuate them to the airport and back to Tripoli.