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The Benghazi Debacle

This pretty much tells you everything you need to know about who is responsible for the deaths of the two ex-Navy seals in Benghazi.

The   Benghazi debacle boils down to a single key factor - the granting or  withholding of  "cross-border authority."  This opinion is informed by my experience as a Navy SEAL officer who took a NavSpecWar  Detachment to Beirut . Once   the alarm is sent - in this   case, from the consulate in Benghazi -   dozens   of HQs are notified and are in the planning loop in real   time, including   AFRICOM and EURCOM, both located in Germany   Without waiting   for specific orders from Washington, they   begin planning and executing rescue operations, including moving     personnel, ships, and aircraft forward toward the location of the crisis.   However, there is one thing they can't do without explicit  orders from   the president: cross an international border on a hostile mission.
That   is the clear "red line" in this type of a crisis situation.   No   administration wants to stumble into a war because a jet jockey in hot pursuit   (or a   mixed-up SEAL squad in a rubber boat) strays into hostile   territory. Because of this, only the president can give the order for our   military to cross a nation's border without that nation's permission. For the   Osama  bin Laden mission, President Obama granted CBA for our forces to   enter Pakistani airspace.
On   the other side of the CBA coin: in order to prevent a military rescue in   Benghazi, all the President of the United States "(POTUS)" has to do is not   grant cross-border   authority.  If he does not, the entire   rescue mission (already in   progress) must stop in its   tracks.  Ships can loiter on station, but airplanes fall out of the sky,   so they must be redirected to an air base (Sigonella, in Sicily) to await the   POTUS decision on granting CBA.  If the decision to grant CBA never   comes, the besieged diplomatic outpost in Benghazi can rely only on assets   already "in country" in Libya - such as the Tripoli quick reaction force and   the   Predator drones.These assets can be put into action on the   independent authority of the acting ambassador or CIA station chief in   Tripoli. They are already "in country," so CBA rules do not apply to them.
How   might this process have played out in the White House? If, at the 5:00 p.m.   Oval Office meeting with Defense Secretary Panetta and Vice President Biden,   President   Obama said about Benghazi: "I think we should not go the   military action route," meaning that no CBA will be granted, then that is it   Case closed.
Another   possibility is that the   president might have said: "We should do   what we can to help them. but no military intervention from outside of Libya   ." Those words then constitute "standing orders" all the way down the chain of   command, via Panetta and General Dempsey to General Ham and the subordinate   commanders who are already gearing up to rescue the besieged outpost. When   that meeting took place, it may have seemed as if the consulate attack was   over, so President Obama might have thought the situation would stabilize on   its own from that point forward.  If he then goes upstairs to the family   quarters, or otherwise makes himself   "unavailable," then his last   standing orders will continue to stand until he changes them, even if he goes   to sleep until the morning of September 12.
Nobody   in the chain of command below President Obama can countermand his "standing   orders" not to send outside military forces into Libyan air   space.Nobody.  Not Leon Panetta, not Hillary Clinton, not General   Dempsey, and not General Ham in Stuttgart, Germany, who is in charge of the   forces staging in Signorelli.
Perhaps   the president left  "no outside military intervention, no cross-border   authority"  standing orders, and then made himself scarce to those below   him seeking further guidance, clarification, or modified orders.  Or   perhaps he was the Situation Room watching the Predator videos in live time   for all seven hours. We don't yet know where the president was hour by hour.
But   this is 100 percent sure:  Panetta and Dempsey would have executed a   rescue mission order if the president had given those orders. And like the   former SEALs in Benghazi , General Ham and all of the troops under him would   have been straining forward in their harnesses, ready to go into battle to   save American lives.
The   execute orders would be given verbally to General Ham at AFRICOM in Stuttgart,   but they would immediately be backed up in official message traffic for the   official record.That is why cross-border authority is the King Arthur's Sword   for understanding Benghazi. The POTUS and only the POTUS can pull out that   sword.
We   can be 100% certain that cross-border authority was never given. How do I know   this? Because if CBA was granted and the rescue mission execute orders were   handed   down, irrefutable records exist today in at least a dozen   involved component commands, and probably many more. No general or admiral   will risk being hung out to dry for undertaking a mission-gone-wrong that the   POTUS later disavows ordering, and instead blames on "loose cannons" or "rogue   officers" exceeding their authority.  No general or admiral will order   U.S. armed forces to cross an international border on a hostile mission unless   and until he is certain that the National Command Authority, in the person of   the POTUS and his chain of command, has clearly and explicitly given that   order: verbally at the outset, but thereafter in written orders and official   messages. If they exist, they could be produced today.
When   it comes to granting cross-border authority, there are no presidential   mumblings or musings to paraphrase or decipher. If you hear confusion over   parsed statements   given as an excuse for Benghazi, then you are   hearing lies. I   am sure that hundreds of active-duty military officers know all about the   Benghazi execute orders (or the lack thereof), and I am impatiently waiting   for one of them to come forward to risk his career and pension as a   whistleblower
Leon   Panetta is falling on his sword for President Obama with his   absurd-on-its-face, "the U.S.military doesn't do risky things"-defense of his   shameful no-rescue policy.  Panetta is utterly destroying his reputation.
General   Dempsey joins Panetta on the same sword with his tacit agreement by silence.   But why?  How far does loyalty extend when it comes to covering up gross   dereliction of duty by the president?
General   Petraeus, however, has indirectly blown the whistle. He was probably "used" in   some way early in the cover-up with the purported CIA intel link to the   Mohammed   video, and now he feels burned.  So he conclusively   said via his public   affairs officer that the stand-down order did   not come from the CIA. Well - what outranks the CIA?  Only the national   security team at the White House. That means President Obama, and nobody else.   Petraeus is naming Obama without naming him. If that is not quite   as   courageous as blowing a whistle, it is far better than the   disgraceful behavior of Panetta and Dempsey.
We do  not know the facts for certain, but we do know that the rescue mission   stand-down issue revolves around the granting or withholding of cross-border   authority, which belongs only to President Obama.  More than one hundred   gung-ho Force Recon Marines were waiting on the tarmac in Signorelli, just two   hours away for the launch order that never came.


From a retired Navy Captain who lives in Hawaii


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