General David M. Rodriguez of the U.S. Africa Command updated reporters Wednesday on the Defense Department's efforts to assist the response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. However, later in the briefing, the general addressed questions on other topics as well. Several reporters inquired about the U.S. military's current role in Libya, and eventually the subject of the 2012 terrorist attacks on the Benghazi diplomatic facility came up. One unidentified reporter referred to Benghazi as "a major issue with the right-wing and Obama-haters."
The broader exchange regarding Benghazi involved two different reporters and went as follows [emphasis added]:
Q: General Rodriguez, can I just follow up on Libya? Do we -- does the U.S. have military personnel operating in Libya right now?
GEN. RODRIGUEZ: No, we do not.
Q: And -- are you still continuing to search for any of the Benghazi attackers?
GEN. RODRIGUEZ: Yes, we continue to search for the Benghazi attack network, yes.
Q: But without U.S. military on the ground.
GEN. RODRIGUEZ: That's right, without people on the ground, yes.
Q: My train of though train of thought. I was going to ask you about Libya -- Liberia, excuse me, but Benghazi. Two years after the attack on the U.S. consulate, this has become still a major issue with the right-wing and Obama-haters, that the conspiracy theorists about why we didn't rescue. Two years later, what assets do you have at your disposal right now? Review the bidding. If something like that happened again, what do you have available?
GEN. RODRIGUEZ: We have the FAST teams from the Marines. We have -- we have a commander's emergency response forces from the special forces. We have the special purpose MAGTF crisis response that's up in Moron, Spain. And then we have the East African response force in Djibouti.
We also have force-sharing agreements with European Command to be able to be much more responsive and quicker. And then we think we have developed an improved way to execute the indications and warnings with our interagency partners to ensure that we can move and reposition closer.
We have done that three times, for example, into Sigonella based on indications or warning. And then, of course, the reinforcement of the embassies, both by diplomatic security and the Marine security guards, as happened throughout the region, and we've done that in Libya. We've done that in Tunisia. We've done that in the Central African Republic and, of course, in South Sudan, between that time and now.
The recent release of the House Intelligence Committee's report on Benghazi did little to settle the controversy surrounding the events of September 11, 2012.