Policy: National Security

Congress should hear from Benghazi attack witnesses

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Opinion,R. Emmett Tyrrell,Columnists,National Security,Benghazi,Susan Rice

National Security Advisor Susan Rice appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday and said that when she had appeared on several news outlets back in September 2012 to state that the attack on an American diplomatic installation in Benghazi was a "spontaneous reaction" to an American-made film that appeared on YouTube she had used "the best information we [the White House] had at the time." Sen. John McCain responded to her statement Sunday that it left him "almost speechless."

The Arizona Republican said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that "I'm almost speechless, because it's patently obvious, first of all, that Susan Rice had no reason to be on the program. She had no involvement in it [Benghazi]." At the time she was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "Second of all, she read talking points that we are now beginning to believe came from the White House, which were absolutely false," continued McCain. "We now know that the CIA station chief on the ground sent a message immediately saying, 'Not-slash-not spontaneous demonstrations,' and of course the information was totally misleading, totally false."

Well, apparently the White House -- bolstered by a December investigative piece by the New York Times -- is still at it, energetically deceiving the American people about the origins of the attack in Benghazi and its very nature. Actually, the attack was undertaken by al Qaeda-related terrorists. It was a very professional job. A former Navy SEAL called in to assess the terrorists' mortar attacks -- in which two retired SEALs were killed along with two other Americans, one of whom was our ambassador -- has verified the attackers' professionalism. Moreover, Gregory Hicks, the deputy chief of mission in Libya, informed the press shortly after the attack that he and everyone else in the Libyan mission believed it was a terrorist attack "from the get-go."

So there should be no doubt about the character of the assault on Benghazi. It was professional, and the Jan. 15 report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence asserts that for months, intelligence reports were coming in indicating that security in the area should have been beefed up. The Obama administration did the opposite. One has to wonder why. Why has the administration not been charged with negligence?

Jed Babbin and I recently conducted our own investigation of Benghazi. We found still more discrepancies in the record. McCain and his colleagues will find our report on our website, spectator.org.

The night of the Benghazi attack, a security team based in Tripoli consisting of seven men — at least two of them Delta Force operators — was ordered to Benghazi. After delays, they arrived between 4:30 and 5:15 in the morning. A former SEAL with knowledge of the situation told us that the security team inflicted a large number of casualties on the attackers. It was during this attack that mortar fire took the lives of two very brave men, former SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, who were on the annex roof defending it. One of the Delta Force operators, Master Sgt. David Halbruner, received the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism in the fight. Another, rumored to be a Marine, may have received the Navy Cross. Both honors are second only to the Medal of Honor.

There is more. One of the survivors of the attack was apparently injured so seriously that he was still receiving medical assistance at the National Military Medical Center near Washington as late as December. It is possible he is still there. This wounded warrior, and the others who fought so bravely that night, have yet to testify before Congress. Before Rice pops off again, we should hear from them. Right, Sen. McCain?

R. EMMETT TYRRELL, a Washington Examiner columnist, is nationally syndicated by Creators Syndicate.
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