A Defense Department timeline of the Benghazi attack was leaked today and it shows that it took Panetta somewhere between 1.5 hours and 3.5 hours after learning of the attacks before he started giving orders to move assets around for response.
If I’ve done my math correctly, Panetta found out about the attack around 10:30PM Benghazi time, 50 minutes after it began at 9:40PM, and it wasn’t until somewhere between midnight and 2:00AM Benghazi time that Panetta began giving verbal orders, telling teams to prepare to deploy to Libya.
Further, it says by the time the teams started moving just before dawn, the CIA annex was under attack and two CIA security officers were killed. We know from other timelines that was around 4AM Benghazi time. That’s 5.5 hours after Panetta originally found out about the attack.
Even worse, it wasn’t until 8PM that night in Benghazi when military assets arrived in the region. This was after all Americans had not only been flown out of Benghazi to Tripoli, but also out of Tripoli to the US as well. That’s almost a day after the attack began.
So are we really supposed to believe it took 1.5 – 3.5 hours after finding out about the attack for Panetta to start giving orders? And 5.5 hours after finding out about the attack for our military to even start moving? What are we, a third world nation?
DAILY MAIL - Panetta and his top military adviser were notified of the attack about 50 minutes after it began and were about to head into a previously scheduled meeting with Barack Obama.
The meeting quickly turned into a discussion of potential responses to the unfolding situation in Benghazi, where militants had surrounded the consulate and set it on fire. The first wave of the attack at the consulate lasted less than two hours.
The attack began at about 9.40pm local time in Benghazi. Less than 20 minutes later, the U.S. military began moving an unarmed drone to a position over Benghazi, so it could provide real time intelligence to the CIA team on the ground.
The CIA team went to aid the Americans at the consulate. The drone arrived shortly after 11pm. By 11.30pm, a CIA team was able to get all the Americans out of the compound.
As that was happening, Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, left the Oval Office and went into a series of meetings in the Pentagon with senior leaders to discuss how to respond to the Benghazi attack and assess the potential for other outbreaks of violence in the region.
Between midnight and 2am, Panetta began to issue verbal orders, telling two Marine anti-terrorism teams based in Rota, Spain to prepare to deploy to Libya, and he ordered a special operations force team in Central Europe and a special operations force team in the U.S. to prepare to deploy to a staging base in Europe.
As the military units begin moving, just before dawn, a CIA base less than a mile away came under attack and five mortars were fired at the building. Two missed, but three hit, killing two CIA security officers who were on the roof.
The Americans fired back and soon fled the CIA base for the airport. By 10am, they had flown out, heading to Tripoli. Shortly after 7pm, the Americans are flown out of Tripoli on a military aircraft.
Not until just before 8pm, however, did the first U.S. military unit arrive in the region, as the special operations team landed at the staging base in Europe. An hour later, the Marine team landed in Tripoli.
‘The U.S. Armed Forces did everything they were in position to do to respond to the attack in Benghazi,’ Panetta said in the letter, obtained by The Associated Press.
‘The department’s senior leaders and I spared no effort to save the lives of our American colleagues, as we worked to bolster security in response to a series of other threats in the region occurring at the same time.’
Panetta came out today denied that there were military aircraft in the region close enough to defend the diplomatic mission and he insisted that the military had done all it could to aid our people in Benghazi.
Leon Panetta has denied that military aircraft could have intervened in the Benghazi consulate attack to save the lives of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
The Defense Secretary told Congress that there were no planes close enough to defend the diplomatic mission from the terrorist assault on September 11. …
In a letter to senator John McCain on Friday, Panetta specifically addressed the claim that the military could have dispatched armed unmanned aerial vehicles, AC-130 gunships or fighter jets to thwart the attack.
The Pentagon chief said these aircraft were not stationed near Benghazi and they were not an effective option.
He insisted that the U.S. military did everything ‘they were in position’ to do to respond to the attack and spared no effort save the four American lives.
Note, the Daily Mail says it took 14 hours for our military to reach the consulate. No idea where they got that number because as I add it up, it was around 23 hours after the attack began for our military to get into the region. But if I’ve gotten my math wrong please let me know and I’ll correct it.