HELLE DALE, HERITAGE FOUNDATION
Dominos are falling in the Benghazi cover-up. Today, explosive and emotional testimony from Brig. Gen. Robert Lovell (Ret.), former Intelligence Director of U.S. Africa Command, rocked the House Government Oversight Committee. Lowell held his post at the time of the Benghazi attack, which fell into his area of command. From the U.S. base in Stuttgart, Germany, Lovell watched the message traffic relating to Benghazi, in real time, as the attack was unfolding.
As Lovell stated, it is “my duty” to come forward to give the American people a “full forthcoming” about what happened. The discussion in the post-Benghazi investigations has focused on issues such as time, distance and assets that could have been used to rescue the Americans under attack. However, said Lovell, his voice filling with emotion,
The point is we should have tried. The military is trained to go in the direction of gunfire.
In Benghazi they did not, and the question remains why.
Pressed by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R–Calif.) about the mood in the Stuttgart command on that fateful night, Lovell admitted, “There was desperation” about how to save the individuals in Benghazi. “Why didn’t we do anything?” Lovell said with tears in his eyes, “There were a lot of deference to the desires of the State Department what they wanted us to do.”
>> WATCH Chaffetz question Lovell:
As brought out by Rep. Jim Jordan (R–Ohio), for the first time in Lovell’s entire military career, he could not “run to the sound of the guns. “It is not what State did, but what they didn’t do, come forward to a stronger request for assistance,” said Lovell.
In Libya, State was in the lead. Lovell revealed that his primary contact at State had been Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary for military and political affairs and a close associate of Hillary Clinton. Shapiro is now, like other Clinton associates, a consultant at Beacon Global Strategies.
Rep. John Mica (R–Fla.) asked Lovell if we might have made military moves that could at least have saved the two Navy Seals, Tyrone Woods and Glen Dougherty, who died around 5 a.m., when the attack resumed at the CIA Annex in Benghazi. Lovell said, “The military could have made a response of some sort.”
Strongly contradicting the narrative promoted by the White House (which, as we now know, originated with deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes) as to the nature of the Benghazi attack, Lovell said
We knew very early on this was a hostile action, not demonstration gone terribly awry.
He confirmed that he dismissed very early on the idea that this was a demonstration based on a video. “It was not an escalation, it was an attack.”
It is encouraging that Americans are finally hearing first-hand accounts about what happened—and what could have been avoided—that night in Benghazi. But there is so much more yet to be uncovered. It is high time to create a congressional select committee to finally hold the Obama administration accountable.
Helle C. Dale is the Heritage Foundations Senior Fellow in Public Diplomacy studies. Her current work focuses on the U.S. government’s institutions and programs for strategic outreach to the publics of foreign countries, as well as more traditional diplomacy, critical elements in American global leadership and in the war of ideas against violent extremism.
This article was originally published at Heritage.org. Used with permission.