Released last night was additional proof that the Benghazi attack had nothing to do with a non-existent demonstration about a You Tube video.
On 9/11/12, Just after the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi began then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were on their way to a previously scheduled Oval Office session with President Obama when they were informed that the event was a “terrorist attack,” declassified documents show.
According to declassified testimony published by the House Armed Services Committee Gen. Carter Ham, who at the time was head of AFRICOM (United States Africa Command, Headquarters, U.S. Armed Force) testified that he learned about the assault on the consulate compound within 15 minutes of its commencement, at 9:42 p.m. Libya time, through a call he received from the AFRICOM Command Center.
“My first call was to General Dempsey, General Dempsey’s office, to say, ‘Hey, I am headed down the hall. I need to see him right away,'” Ham told lawmakers on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation on June 26 of last year. “I told him what I knew. We immediately walked upstairs to meet with Secretary Panetta.”
Ham’s account of that fateful day was included in some 450 pages of testimony given by senior Pentagon officials in classified, closed-door hearings conducted last year by the Armed Services subcommittee. The testimony, given under “Top Secret” clearance and only declassified this month, presents a rare glimpse into how information during a crisis travels at the top echelons of America’s national security apparatus, all the way up to the president.
According to Ham he also met with Panetta and Dempsey when they returned from their 30-minute session with President Obama on Sept. 11.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, a first-term lawmaker with experience as an Iraq war veteran and Army reserve officer, pressed Ham on “the nature of the conversation” he had with Panetta and Dempsey was that “this was a terrorist attack.”
WENSTRUP: “As a military person, I am concerned that someone in the military would be advising that this was a demonstration. I would hope that our military leadership would be advising that this was a terrorist attack.”
HAM: “Again, sir, I think, you know, there was some preliminary discussion about, you know, maybe there was a demonstration. But I think at the command, I personally and I think the command very quickly got to the point that this was not a demonstration, this was a terrorist attack.”
WENSTRUP: “And you would have advised as such if asked. Would that be correct?”
HAM: “Well, and with General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta, that is the nature of the conversation we had, yes, sir.”
Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February of last year that it was him who informed the president that “there was an apparent attack going on in Benghazi.” “Secretary Panetta, do you believe that unequivocally at that time we knew that this was a terrorist attack?” asked Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. “There was no question in my mind that this was a terrorist attack,” Panetta replied.
In a classified session on July 31 of last year, Westrup raised the question with Marine Corps Col. George Bristol, commander of AFRICOM’s Joint Special Operations Task Force for the Trans Sahara region.
Bristol, who was traveling in Dakar, Senegal when the attack occurred, said he received a call from the Joint Operations Center alerting him to “a considerable event unfolding in Libya.” Bristol’s next call was to Lt. Col. S.E. Gibson, an Army commander stationed in Tripoli. Gibson informed Bristol that Stevens was missing, and that “there was a fight going on” at the consulate compound.
WESTRUP: “So no one from the military was ever advising, that you are aware of, that this was a demonstration gone out of control, it was always considered an attack”
BRISTOL: “Yes, sir.”
WENSTRUP: “– on the United States?”
BRISTOL: “Yes, sir. … We referred to it as the attack.”
According to these senior military leaders, from the very beginning the American people were lied to about this attack by the President of the United States and the Secretary of State among others. If we were lied to about the nature of the attack being terrorism rather than the product of a demonstration, what else did they lie about?
In the end, that is “what difference at this point” it makes.