“Verification of what the National Command Authority knew and when they knew it is extremely important as it will show, I believe, that there was dereliction of duty by the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of State, and the CIA Director,” Lt. Gen. McInerney said at a joint conference with military and legal experts held by the Heritage Foundation and the Benghazi Accountability Coalition on Monday.
“That is a very serious charge. That is a very serious charge, and it was done in violation of the law of the United States,” declared Gen. McInerney, who served as an assistant vice chief of staff in the Air Force’s Washington headquarters, and was part of a group calling for a select committee to investigate the events in Benghazi back in March.
"It absolutely boggles my mind that we did not have pre-positioned forces in that area," McInerney said, adding that he knows the region well because he was a commander there when the U.S. attacked Libya in April 1986.
"We didn't do these things. That points to dereliction of duty," he said.
After Amb. Stevens notified the State Department that the consulate in Benghazi was under attack, "we should have launched F-16s and tankers and they could have been airborne in two hours...But nothing was done," McInerney said.
"The Foreign Emergency Support Team, can you believe this, was up in Croatia. What was it doing in Croatia? Were we having riots in Croatia? So again, dereliction of duty."
Another military panelist at the conference said that greater issues are at stake than the loss of American lives.
“This whole thing is not just about the lives of four people,” asserted retired Army Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin. “This is about the character of America. This is about who we are as a nation. This about the violation of our most fundamental ethos in this nation….We don’t leave people behind.”
The conference was held in Washington as the House Select Committee on Benghazi begins its probe of the events surrounding the deadly Sept. 12, 2012 assault.
The investigation is also expected to take a new turn with the American military’s capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala Sunday. Abu Khattala, a member of the Ansar al-Sharia militia group, is one of the suspected masterminds behind the Benghazi terrorist attacks.
President Barack Obama stated in a Tuesday press release that “with this operation, the United States has once again demonstrated that we will do whatever it takes to see that justice is done when people harm Americans. We will continue our efforts to bring to justice those who were responsible for the Benghazi attacks.”
Demands for accountability first began after terrorists stormed the diplomatic consulate in Benghazi, which then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice blamed on a “spontaneous protest” allegedly motivated by an anti-Islamic video.
After multiple congressional hearings, the Senate Intelligence Committee declassified a report in January showing that “the attacks were preventable, based on extensive intelligence reporting on the terrorist activity in Libya...and given the known security shortfalls at the U.S. Mission.”
On May 8, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) created the Select Committee on Benghazi after Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, released State Department documents claiming that the attack was “rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy.”
But not everyone in Washington welcomed the renewed attempt to find out what really happened in Benghazi.
“I think it’s a hunting mission for a lynch mob,” Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told CNN on May 18. “They [questions about Benghazi] were certainly answered to the satisfaction of the Senate Intelligence Committee.”
In a June 9 interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “What I do not appreciate is politicizing this at the expense of four dead Americans….I do not believe our great country should be playing minor league ball. We ought to be in the majors,” and calling the Select Committee’s work “a diversion from the hard work that the Congress should be doing about the problems facing our country and the world.”