The Blog

Senators: 'What We Do Not Know' About Benghazi

8:02 AM, May 23, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Three U.S. senators have identified the missing parts of the response to the Benghazi terror attack. In a statement, Senators Kelly Ayotte, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain list "What We Do Not Know" about Benghazi:

·         We do not know whether the President was made aware of the classified cable that, according to published media reports, Ambassador Chris Stevens sent in August 2012, stating that the U.S. Mission in Benghazi could not survive a sustained assault from one or more of the threatening militia groups that were operating in eastern Libya.

·         We do not know whether the President’s national security staff made him aware of the attacks on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi that occurred in April and June of last year and the assassination attempt on the British Ambassador in Benghazi around the same time.

·         If the President was informed, we do not know what actions, if any, he ordered.

·         We do not know who within U.S. Special Operations Command, Africa ordered a U.S. special forces detachment in Tripoli not to go to Benghazi to assist the Americans under attack, and why that “stand down” order was given, as the former Deputy Chief of Mission in Tripoli, Gregory Hicks, testified to Congress. 

·         We do not know why, on the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in American history, after multiple attacks last year on U.S. and Western interests in Libya, and with rising insecurity in countries across the Middle East, U.S. military units and assets in the region were not ready, alert, and positioned to respond in a timely fashion to what should have been a foreseeable emergency – despite the fact that there is a U.S. military base in Souda Bay, Crete, which is a short flight to Benghazi.

·         We do not know what the President did or who he was in contact with during the seven hours of the attack, and we do not know why the President did not reach out to Libyan President Magariaf during that period of time.

·         We still do not know the names of the survivors of the Benghazi attack, and they have not been interviewed by the Congress.

·         We do not know why the testimonies of the U.S. personnel who were evacuated from Benghazi on September 12, 2012 – eyewitnesses who knew there never was a demonstration outside the U.S. Mission – were not shared in a timely way with, and immediately factored in to the judgments of, our intelligence community.

·         We do not know whether this failure reflects obstacles that still exist to the free sharing of information across executive branch agencies, which was a key concern of the 9/11 Commission.

·         We do not know why the Administration did not do more to support and assist the new Libyan government that took power after the fall of Qaddafi, including in the establishment of civilian-led national security forces that operate under central government control, a counterterrorism force that is trained and equipped to combat Al Qaeda and its affiliates, national justice and prison systems, and effective control over the immense stockpiles of weapons and dangerous materials that exist across Libya. The result of this ‘light footprint’ approach was that Al-Qaeda, its affiliated groups, and local militias were able to establish sanctuaries almost uncontested in the ungoverned spaces of eastern Libya. Some of these individuals were involved in the attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi.” 

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 18 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers