When the White House and State Department learned of the assault on the Benghazi Consulate, 90 minutes had passed. The reported-four hour fire fight at the “safe” house may have been underway, but was no where near an end. Ambassador Stevens is missing and 30 other Consulate employees have tried to get to safety (by the way, isn’t it odd that we know nothing about these 30 persons, originally said to be 40 persons?). Hillary Clinton, Obama and General Martin Dempsey convene. US Military could have come from only 450 miles away, from a US airbase in Sicily. The Three Amigos rejected that option. Was it viable? Both the F-15 and the F-16 fly at more than 1,000 miles an hour. I’d say yes if there was a four hour fire fight yet to come. I’d say yes, because the situation called for us to give all we’ve got, and what we didn’t have was American security. I’d say yes because our FBI is still not allowed into the compound to gather “evidence,” of which we can expect nothing. I say to Libyan sovereignty, get over it. We’ve spent millions, probably billions on your fight. You owe us big time. We’ll do what we must do and you’ll like it. Our flag flew over our Consulate. You can tear it down and burn it, but you can’t kill our Ambassador and other personnel without suffering hugely for it.
What is uppermost on the minds of the president and his advisers? The safety of Americans, no doubt. So what are they prepared to do about it? Here is The Wall Street Journal’s account of the meeting:
“There was no serious consideration at that hour of intervention with military force, officials said. Doing so without Libya’s permission could represent a violation of sovereignty and inflame the situation, they said. Instead, the State Department reached out to the Libyan government to get reinforcements to the scene.”
So it did. Yet the attack was far from over. After leaving the principal U.S. compound, the Americans retreated to a second, supposedly secret facility, which soon came under deadly mortar fire. Time to call in the troops?
“Some officials said the U.S. could also have sent aircraft to the scene as a ‘show of force’ to scare off the attackers,” the Journal reported, noting that there’s a U.S. air base just 450 miles away in Sicily. “State Department officials dismissed the suggestions as unrealistic. ‘They would not have gotten there in two hours, four hours or six hours.'”
The U.S. security detail only left Benghazi at 8 a.m. on Sept. 12, more than 10 hours after the attacks began. A commercial jet liner can fly from D.C. to Benghazi in about the same time.
All this is noted with the benefit of hindsight, and the administration deserves to be judged accordingly. But it also deserves to be judged in light of what it knew prior to the attack, including an attack on the mission in June and heightened threat warnings throughout the summer. Source: Wall Street Journal
Maybe a 30-minute flight could have saved those in the “safe” house, but the answer to this is: we didn’t want to offend Libya or breach their sovereignty, as they did ours when they attacked our Consulate. H/T Breitbart
Update 10-24-12: Linked at Gateway Pundit with the latest on Obama fiddling, Benghazi burning.