Fox host Geraldo Rivera demolished his network's latest Benghazi hoax, even as his colleagues worked to prop up their distortions of Ret. Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell's testimony on the administration's response to the attack.
On May 1, Lovell, who served as deputy intelligence director at the U.S. Africa Command in Germany (AFRICOM) during the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, testified that "we should have tried" to rescue the victims of the attack, yet later clarified that he did not mean to suggest that the government had the capability to send additional help that it failed to utilize. Fox News was quick to highlight the first portion of Lovell's testimony as "incredibly damning" evidence of the administration's negligence, yet failed to cover the full context of Lovell's remarks. Mainstream media similarly misrepresented the testimony.
Fox continued to push the myth that the administration had refused to send military assistance to Benghazi on the March 2 edition of Fox & Friends, claiming that Lovell "made it very clear we didn't even try to rescue those guys" and arguing: "Logic tells you that you would think that there would be some type of mission to get people out" -- arguments that were dismantled later in the show when Rivera described the realities of military coordination. Rivera called his Fox News colleagues' claims a "myth," pointing out that "we have never, as far as I know, never mounted a rescue operation in the time parameters we had here, at all" and "it would never have been mounted, that mission was a suicide mission, it could not have happened" (emphasis added):
RIVERA: Admiral Mike Mullen, appointed by President Bush, says there was no military asset available. I have investigated this from the Air Force assets in Aviano to the special forces in Tripoli and in Italy and in other places. Whatever was available in our fleet resources, AFRICOM, there was no forces that could have intervened. There was no gunship available as the myth suggested. There was no 'stand down order' given by concentrating on the -- and the military is not the SWAT team. They're not the fire department.
CO-HOST STEVE DOOCY: Geraldo, they could have buzzed them with a drone.
HASSELBECK: Doesn't it go back to the first paints that they should have paid attention --
RIVERA: I don't know. All I know is that when you, for instance, look at how we rescue the guy from the Mirsk, Alabama or how we go into the camps in Somalia, these are precisely planned, daylight operations largely. They involve three days of intense comprehensive plans -- we have never, as far as I know, never mounted a rescue operation in the time parameters we had here, at all.
RIVERA: Listen, I have been with so many fallen and wounded GIs from Afghanistan 12 times, Iraq 12 times, Somalia, I have a lot of African experience. If the jets Aviano had scrambled, they would have had to jettison their tanks at night, going over to a situation that they could have easily been taken down by a handheld RPG. To what end? We didn't have a target. It could would have been mounted, that mission was a suicide mission, it could not have happened.
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has already debunked claims that further assistance could have been sent from U.S. military bases and even criticized this "cartoonish impression of the military," which has ignored the need for "planning and preparation before we send people in harm's way."
Lovell, too, was very clear about the limits of military's capability to respond. From his May 1 remarks:
REP. JERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): I want to read to you the conclusion of the chairman of the [Armed Services] Committee, the Republican chairman Buck McKeon, who conducted formal briefings and oversaw that report. He said, quote, "I'm pretty well satisfied that given where the troops were, how quickly the thing all happened, and how quickly it dissipated we probably couldn't have done much more than we did." Do you take issue with the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee? In that conclusion?
LOVELL: His conclusion that he couldn't have done much more than they did with the capability and the way they executed it?
CONNOLLY: Given the timeframe.
LOVELL: That's a fact.
LOVELL: The way it is right now. The way he stated it.
CONNOLLY: All right, because I'm sure you can appreciate, general, there might be some who, for various and sundry reasons would like to distort your testimony and suggest that you're testifying that we could have, should have done a lot more than we did because we had capabilities we simply didn't utilize. That is not your testimony?
LOVELL: That is not my testimony.
CONNOLLY: I thank you very much