Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Stand Down

Special Forces operatives ordered to stand down during Benghazi attack

A team of U.S. Special Forces in Tripoli preparing to respond to the attack last September on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was ordered to stand down by U.S. Special Forces Command Africa, according to written congressional testimony from the deputy to murdered Libyan Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Special Forces officers were slated to board a C-130 from Tripoli to Benghazi at around 6 a.m. on the night of the attack when their commander, Lt. Col. Gibson, was told he did not have the authority to send in his team, according to excerpts of Gregory Hicks’ testimony published by CBS News.

Hicks said the U.S. mission in Benghazi was in touch with the Special Forces team during the attack and expected them to respond.

“We fully intended for those [Special Forces] guys to go [on the flight], because we had already essentially stripped ourselves of our security presence, or our security capability to the bare minimum,” said Hicks in testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “They were on their way to the vehicles to go to the airport to get on the C-130 when [Lt. Col. Gibson] got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, you can’t go now, you don’t have authority to go now. And so they missed the flight.”

Hicks said Gibson told him that “I have never been so embarrassed in my life that a State Department officer has bigger balls than somebody in the military.”

The new allegations appear to contradict the Obama administration’s claim that State Department officials did not request military backup. Hicks and other whistleblowers will testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is resuming its hearings into the Benghazi attack on Wednesday.

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