CBS News REPORT: Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy decided NOT to send FEST to Benghazi

This is a very interesting article by Sharyl Attkisson at CBS News. It’s very long and covers different topics surrounding Benghazi, from the decision not to deploy FEST to how the talking points came about.

The quote below talks about how certain anonymous White House officials say that the missteps in Benghazi was less about malice and more about incompetence. For instance, they claim that the reasoning behind not deploying the counterterrorism unit known as FEST stemmed from a misunderstanding of FEST’s role and ability. One official does pin the decision not to send in FEST on Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy, though the State Dept. would not admit to it.

If all of this is true in the report, the bottom line is whether it was incompetence or malice, it’s completely and utterly unacceptable and the truth should be made known to the American people.

CBS NEWS – Obama administration officials who were in key positions on Sept. 11, 2012 acknowledge that a range of mistakes were made the night of the attacks on the U.S. missions in Benghazi, and in messaging to Congress and the public in the aftermath.

The officials spoke to CBS News in a series of interviews and communications under the condition of anonymity so that they could be more frank in their assessments. They do not all agree on the list of mistakes and it’s important to note that they universally claim that any errors or missteps did not cost lives and reflect “incompetence rather than malice or cover up.” Nonetheless, in the eight months since the attacks, this is the most sweeping and detailed discussion by key players of what might have been done differently.

“We’re portrayed by Republicans as either being lying or idiots,” said one Obama administration official who was part of the Benghazi response. “It’s actually closer to us being idiots.”

The list of mea culpas by Obama administration officials involved in the Benghazi response and aftermath include: standing down the counterterrorism Foreign Emergency Support Team, failing to convene the Counterterrorism Security Group, failing to release the disputed Benghazi “talking points” when Congress asked for them, and using the word “spontaneous” while avoiding the word “terrorism.”

The emergency response: “I wish we’d sent FEST”

The Foreign Emergency Support Team known as “FEST” is described as “the US Government’s only interagency, on-call, short-notice team poised to respond to terrorist incidents worldwide.” It even boasts hostage-negotiating expertise. With U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens reported missing shortly after the Benghazi attacks began, Washington officials were operating under a possible hostage scenario at the outset. Yet deployment of the counterterrorism experts on the FEST was ruled out from the start. That decision became a source of great internal dissent and the cause of puzzlement to some outsiders.

Thursday, an administration official who was part of the Benghazi response told CBS News: “I wish we’d sent it.”

The official said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s deputy, Patrick Kennedy, quickly dispensed with the idea. A senior State Department official Thursday told CBS News, “Under Secretary Kennedy is not in the decision chain on FEST deployment” but would not directly confirm whether Kennedy or somebody else dismissed the FEST.

Whoever made the decision, it came amid sharp disagreement over the FEST’s true capabilities. Kennedy and others at the State Department view the team as one that primarily restores communications at besieged embassies. However, the FEST’s own mission statement describes a seasoned team of counterterrorism professionals who can respond “quickly and effectively to terrorist attacks… providing the fastest assistance possible” including “hostage negotiating expertise” and “time-sensitive information and intelligence.” In fact, FEST leader Mark Thompson says Benghazi was precisely the sort of crisis to which his team is trained to respond.

While it was the State Department that’s said to have taken FEST off the table, the team is directed by the White House National Security Council. Those officials expressed the same limited view of FEST’s capabilities when CBS News asked on Nov. 1, 2012 why FEST hadn’t deployed. The officials argued that FEST teams were “used in the past to re-establish infrastructure, communications, etc. after a devastating attack…That wasn’t the need here.”

As soon as word of the Benghazi attack reached Washington, FEST members “instinctively started packing,” said an official involved in the response. “They were told they were not deploying by Patrick Kennedy’s front office… In hindsight… I probably would’ve pushed the button.”

It’s unclear what assistance FEST might have provided on site in the hours and days after the Benghazi attacks. In the end, Obama administration officials argue that its quick deployment would not have saved lives because, while the U.S.-based team might have made it to Tripoli, Libya, before the attacks ended, they most certainly wouldn’t have made it to Benghazi in time.

Still, nobody knew at the outset how long the crisis was going to last. And officials familiar with FEST say it could have helped pave the way for the FBI to get into Benghazi much faster than the three weeks it ultimately took. Said one source, “I don’t see a downside to sending FEST…if for no other reason than so no one could ask why we didn’t.”


(h/t: Mediaite)

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  • TinaG123

    Sorry Liberals, Benghazi is not “closed.” The truth will come out, thanks to Sharyl.

  • poorhardworker

    “In the end, Obama administration officials argue that its quick deployment would not have saved lives because, while the U.S.-based team might have made it to Tripoli, Libya, before the attacks ended, they most certainly wouldn’t have made it to Benghazi in time.”  It does not matter if they would have gotten there in time…WE WOULD HAVE BEEN DOING EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO TRY TO SAVE…instead of hanging American’s out to dry!
    ““We’re portrayed by Republicans as either being lying or idiots,” said one Obama administration official who was part of the Benghazi response. “It’s actually closer to us being idiots.”  Amendment:  VERY DANGEROUS IDIOTS!!!

    • 3seven77

      poorhardworker Some of them are idiots who are now trying to cover up their idiocy. But idiots or not what they did is criminal.

    • patriot077

      poorhardworker I’ve heard some knowledgable folks who have said that merely buzzing the Benghazi skies with equipment close at hand probably would have scared the terrorists enough to buy some time.
      Sounds like it would to me though I am not well versed in tactical matters …

  • WordsFailMe


  • DCGere

    Still doesn’t answer the question of why they blacked out the attack at a major military comm center. And how did they know help couldn’t get there in time if they didn’t know how long the attack would last? Liars.

  • freeperjim

    Where was obamatollah during the attack?

  • brjohnson

    Kennedy is simply throwing himself in front of the Benghazi bus for her Majesty, uh excuse me Her Thighness Chilary Clinton so she can make her run for the throne.

    • WordsFailMe

      brjohnson He’s probably so accustomed to throwing himself under Obama that he doesn’t know the difference

  • RocklinConservative

    Still relying on admin talking points.  Now that they are backed into a corner, which is the least likely to get the public outraged?  Incompetence or or knowing the they were deliberately lying to cover something up.  They are finally having to come up with something and looking completely stupid is the best outcome for them.  Not to mention, this approach, if accepted, will be able to be brushed under the rug for Hellary in ’16.  Don’t buy it!!!

  • Amjean

    Still, where was Obama and why was he not actively involved?  Or, was he?

  • colliemum

    I like the concluding §§ in Ms Atkisson’s report:
    “Critics nonetheless see a pattern that points to a cover up. “Incompetence and malice are not mutually exclusive,” said Graham. “The storyline they chose to convey for a couple of weeks was politically the most beneficial one that could be told about Benghazi, and it’s no accident that story line was chosen.”
    Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said, “If not for Congress, they would still lead us to believe it was a video gone awry.”
    I agree with both of them.

  • Stehekin912

    Assuming we could not get anyone there for a long time (which I do not accept), I’ll bet Israel would have gone in to help until we could if we had asked.

  • Amjean

    BTW, someone, some group, etc. with the expertise to gather the data, needs to check out this response team’s record.  When in the past have they been summoned and for what purpose?  Check also the record for response teams out of Africom or whatever they all call themselves; the special forces, Navy Seals, etc.
    There are terror situations all across the world that involve Americans.  How did the White House, the State Department, the military, etc.  handle those?  If they claim to be incompetent are they always so or is this an isolated instance?

  • ChrisDias

    I’m voting – MALICE

  • njmom

    The more revealed the more questions there are so our choice is either incompetence or ? State is really trying to cover themselves. hmmmmmmm. Much more to this.

  • lawngreen

    Bull. Smoke and mirrors. As the impenitent penitent said, “Yes, Lord, I have sinned, but I have several excellent excuses.”
    Lie all you want, creeps. The truth is obvious. You think the fire has begun to die down and now you can trot out your chickenscratch excuses and a tired public will switch channels. Not this time. This whole regime is trying to finish destroying our country. We will not forget and we will not forgive.

  • grampa3711

    Do you suppose FEST could empty the White House for us? We need it for a President.

  • LoJoFo

    So, now they’re trying to excuse themselves by saying they’re incompetent idiots.  Sorry.  Their learning curve is just too steep, and they need to be put out to pasture along with putting in prison anyone qualified for that assignment.  America cannot afford their ineptitude and criminality any longer.

  • K-Bob

    Great.  barack has no experience in leading any sort of military situation, and Kennedy has even less.  The dog could have done a better job.

  • Conservator1

    I’ve posted this before, but it’s worth repeating – Obama’s house of cards is collapsing.  The Benghazi, IRS and AP scandals will haunt this administration while destroying their agenda for the foreseeable future. That’s good news, but better yet, many MSM have joined the coverage.
    It was one thing when it appeared Fox News was the only one investigating the Benghazi terrorist attack. However, with news organizations like CBS and other MSM news outlets now in full investigative mode, Obama’s legacy will be worse than Nixon and Carter.

  • Laurel A

    This is the third news report I have read with the road leading right back to Kennedy and Clinton. Is Axelrod going to claim for them that the government is too big and they couldn’t be aware?
    This is what happens when you advance through the political ranks based upon your loyalty, fundraising, and cronyism…NOT UPON YOUR ACTUAL ABILITIES.

  • jwbandit27

    This is a copied statement………………..As you can see everyone from the military to the WH takes orders.   It is simple. No one person would have authority and would ask or be told what to do.    It all goes down hill.
    EXAMPLE :    WASHINGTON — The Obama administration believes it could technically use military force to kill an American on U.S. soil in an “extraordinary circumstance” but has “no intention of doing so,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said.
    Do you think for a minute if statements can be made like this,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, that orders and actions don’t come from above.     The rhetoric is clouding over the Truth.

  • RighteousCrow_JustCaws

    In private enterprise, the CEO is held responsible for the performance of all subordinates.  CEO fails, CEO’s fired.You
    hire people – who hire people, who hire people – to help you do your
    job, but it’s still your job…your success or your failure.

  • tinlizzieowner

    There’s only 2 logical conclusions to come to.
    A. The Obama administration was complicit in the deaths for issuing a ‘stand down’ order.
    B. The Obama administration is incompetent for issuing a ‘stand down’ order.
    It’s A. or B. or both.

    • badbadlibs

      tinlizzieowner Ok, I’ll bite, it’s both 😉

  • wdobni

    it sounds like criminal negligence resulting in 4 deaths……in the civilian sector various groups – hospitals, fire dept, SAR, hazmat   –    all these groups are almost continuously conducting disaster/emergency drills and practices so they will not be confused when the real emergency comes along.  Its called professionalism.  Nobody at the WH has any of it.  They are too interested in ogling Beyoncé’s hind end and putting golfballs.

  • ReadyToRock

    Keep up the pressure fellow Patriots.  WE WILL take down this Devil.
    Semper Fidelis

  • Valin

    “We’re portrayed by Republicans as either being
    lying or idiots,” said one Obama administration official who was part of
    the Benghazi response. “It’s actually closer to us being idiots.”

  • WordsFailMe

    Russia’s unmitigated and open, military support of President Assad is about to provide another kicking of Obamanite a** in Syria. The yellow ooze that courses through Obama’s backbone will chill, the Presidential scrotae, tighten and shrivel, but the block headed Obamerrhoid will remain, choomin and chillin’ like roach on the poach….”Who dat black dude  did that IRS audit is?”
    And to think, we might have missed the minstrual show if the Romney-Rino ticket had prevailed. The conservatives who stayed home to puke their guts out in private should be congratulated.

  • doofuschmartz

    “These six things the Lord abhors, yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
    A proud look
    A lying tongue,
    Hands that shed innocent blood,
    A heart that devises wicked plans,
    Feet that are swift in running to evil,
    A false witness who speaks lies,
    And one who sows discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)
    Even a non-believer would have a hard time not seeing Obama in the description of this Proverb. Read it aloud my friends, and remember, GOD HATES THESE THINGS…

    • Conniption Fitz

      Those few lines describe Obama perfectly.

    • ImacowgirlinTucson

      Well said..thanks.

  • badbadlibs

    ““We’re portrayed by Republicans as either being lying or idiots,” said one Obama administration official who was part of the Benghazi response. “It’s actually closer to us being idiots.”
    Not so fast….the truth is YOU and every single other Obama administration “official” is a LYING IDIOT. !

  • jackfoobar42

    He doesn’t have the authority to do that.  It comes from the President Only.  Unless they are using another Constitution that we don’t know about.

  • mokadokado

    This is all according to the Obama Whitehouse “off the record” crowd.  
    I want real evidence.

  • notpilgrims

    Was it incompetence or malice? Are you suggesting the Obama administration would intentionally allow 4 people to get murdered??? For what reason??????
    If you read this article, it is clear there were disagreements about the capabilities of FEST. Whoever was against sending them thought FEST couldn’t have saved them, and they might have been right, but even if that was the wrong decision, it was an incompetent decision.

    • DCGere

      They intentionally blacked out the attack at a major military comm center as it happened. For what purpose? One can only guess. Maybe they were bumps in the road. What difference does it make? / sarc
      Malice, incompetence, and a lack of leadership and priorities, IMO.

    • mikeinidaho

      notpilgrims the reason they let 4 Americans die was to protect Obama’s narrative that HE had stopped Al Queda on his own and should be re-elected because of his wonderful acts. That’s why.

    • ImacowgirlinTucson

      They did nothing..than they covered up that they did nothing..than they continued to lie about doing nothing, blamed it on a video (btw where is the fella who made the video?)..they (Obama and his administration) demoted Hicks blaming his decisions..these lies went on for months to the American they continue to lie..
      Incompetence is NO excuse for their cover-up!!  They let these men die!  And they need to admit the families and the Us..No one said they intentionally allowed the murder of these 4 brave  Americans! But they covered it up because it might hurt Obama chances of re-election..can’t you see that??

  • notebene

    So they admit that they are idiots…we knew that all along!  Folks, ignorance is no excuse for this administration!  It was their job to know what the various emergency agencies do and when to call on them!  If they stopped partying and campaigning long enough during their first 4 years in office, they would have known that essential information!  They are playing the cover your a$$ game and expecting the low info citizens to buy it!  As usual, libs try to project themselves as the victims, when the real victims were the people caught in that attack on our embassy in Benghazi!  They allowed 4 Americans to be murdered in order to cover up their incompetence during the campaign!  They wouldn’t want to lose that Saudi money or the Muslim vote by protecting Americans!

  • rgrusch

    There is no doubt this whole cover up of Benghazi is not going away. The American people deserved the truth.  I still don’t understand why the Alphabet news shows are not all over the Video lie.  Hillary even chastised Americans during her speech when she said the Video started the fight. Time to hold these people accountable , especially Hillary and Obama. The both of them lied.

  • mikeinidaho

    Americans died to protect the traitor Obama in his quest for re-election by the truly stupid Sheeple.
    Impeachment is too kind to that bastard. If there were any justice in this world, his fate would mirror that of Musolini! (Look up how he died toward the end of WWII.)

    • ImacowgirlinTucson

      I agree with you mikeinidaho..this president and his czars..are the most corrupt..and wanting to change OUR country into a socialist country is all they care about..
      I don’t believe for one second that Obama cared one little bit about those 4 Americans that died..I really don’t..where was he?  Where was clinton?
      Why weren’t those Americans who were murdered..the number one concern of this administration as it was happening in real time… Oh no,  getting re-elected was the only thing on their minds…makes me want to puke!

  • All I can do is agree with your bottom line Scoop.  Fact is, 4 Died, alone, with no help, when it was asked for before and during, and all they got was a drone flying filming it. 4 Americans Died, alone, and dear leader and his administration lied and continues to do so- while the families still wait.  
    There is more to it than this, but all I do is pray the families will get some kind of justice for their sons/dads/brothers/husbands.

    • doofuschmartz

      While you’re praying, ABC, will you please remember that Almighty God is a God of His Word. By His Word (Jesus Christ, Himself), the universe was spoken into existence. HE CANNOT LIE! Just because He doesn’t act now, does not mean He will not act at all. Remember, delayed justice is not forgotten justice. The more sin and guilt these people heap up against themselves, the more they have to pay for and answer for…Trust in the God you’re praying to, He will not fail you.

  • reason1984

    Sharyl Attkisson is on someone’s short list. A journalist is born.

  • jazzonfyre

    The means deployed reflect how the situation is assessed. Because Hillary Clinton and Obama refused to consider it a terrorist attack, the necessary means to counter it were not deployed. And 4 men died. The focus of the investigation should be fixed squarely on why both Clinton and Obama denied that it was an act of terrorism, not on the talking points alone. The men did not die because of the talking points. They died as a result of the denial.