Former Special Forces Commander: Congress Should Ask Clinton If Panetta Denied State Dept. A Plane to Rescue Americans in Benghazi

January 23, 2013 - 10:44 AM

Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Retired Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, who served as commander of U.S. Special Forces Command and as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, told CNSNews.com in a video interview that the congressional committees questioning Secretary of State Hillary Clintlon today should ask her if Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta denied her an airplane to rescue the Americans in Benghazi, Libya, who were attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2012.

“Did you talk to the secretary of defense, and what was his response?” Boykin said Congress should ask Clinton. “Did he deny you an airplane? Did he deny to put the military on the ground in there? Oh, so he didn’t deny it, did you ask for it? Did you ask him to come and try to rescue those people?”

According to the State Department Accountability Review Board that Secretary Clinton herself appointed, the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya spent hours chartering a private plane to send a rescue team to Benghazi that day. After that plane was secured and flown to the Benghazi airport, the rescuers were stuck at that airport for hours, unable to travel overland to the State Department Special Mission Compound and CIA Annex in that city.

“Upon notification of the attack from the TDY RSO around 2145 local, Embassy Tripoli set up a command center and notified Washington,” said the ARB report. “About 2150 local, the DCM [deputy chief of mission] was able to reach Ambassador Stevens, who briefly reported that the SMC was under attack before the call cut off.”

“Within hours, Embassy Tripoli chartered a private airplane and deployed a seven-person security team, which included two U.S. military personnel, to Benghazi,” said the ARB report.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee produced a report last month indicating that when the rescue team from Tripoli arrived in its chartered plane at the Benghazi airport it was held up there for “at least three hours.”

“U.S. government security personnel who were based in Tripoli had deployed to Benghazi by chartered aircraft after receiving word of the attack, arriving at the Benghazi airport at 1:15 a.m.,” said the committee report.  “They were held at the airport for at least three hours while they negotiated with Libyan authorities about logistics. The exact cause of this hours-long delay, and its relationship to the rescue effort, remains unclear and merits further inquiry. Was it simply the result of a difficult Libyan bureaucracy and a chaotic environment or was it part of a plot to keep American help from reaching the Americans under siege in Benghazi?”

Former Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, who worked for the CIA, were killed at the Annex shortly after the group from Tripoli arrived there. Doherty reportedly was part of the rescue team that had traveled on the chartered plane.

“The team from Tripoli finally cleared the airport and arrived at the Annex at approximately 5:04 a.m., about ten minutes before a new assault by the terrorists began, involving mortar rounds fired at the Annex,” said the committee report. “The attack concluded at approximately 5:26 a.m., leaving Annex security team members Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty dead and two others wounded.”

“I think Secretary Clinton needs to be called in and I think that they need to ask her a number of questions,” Lt. Gen. Boykin told CNSNews.com. “Did you notify the president? When did you notify the president, and what was his response? And did you talk to the Secretary of Defense, and what was his response? Did he deny you an airplane? Did he deny to put the military on the ground in there? Oh, so he didn’t deny it, did you ask for it? Did you ask him to come and try to rescue those people? Oh, you did ask and he didn’t do it? Well who told him not to do it? Where did the order come from not to do that? This is standard procedure.

“That’s why we have these forces that are designed to rescue diplomats in embassies,” said Boykin. “That’s one of major scenarios. That’s why we keep Marines in the Mediterranean, because of embassies. This is not something new. This is not a 21st century thing.”

Secretary Clinton is testifying today in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and in the House Foreign Affairs Committee.