Fitzpatrick: There was no Aircraft Carrier in the Mediterranean Before Benghazi Attack

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by Sharon Rondeau

The North African countries of Tunisia, Algeria, Libya and Egypt meet the Mediterranean Sea at their northern borders

(May 13, 2013) — On Saturday, CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.) told The Post & Email in an interview that the absence of an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea on the night of September 11 when a U.S. compound came under attack by terrorists was “obscene” and unprecedented since the presidency of Jimmy Carter.

Four Americans were killed in the attack, which was at first characterized as a “protest” over an internet video which mocked Islam but later revealed to have been a pre-planned terrorist attack by Al Qaeda and related groups.  Amb. Christopher Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, and CIA contract workers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed as the compound was doused with diesel fuel and hailed with mortars and gunfire.

Fitzpatrick said that the U.S.S. Stennis, part of the Carrier Strike Group commanded by Adm. Charles Gaouette at the time of the Benghazi attack, had been stationed at Ft. Klang in the Straits of Morocco, “deep inside the Indian Ocean,” which is not in close proximity to northern Africa.  Benghazi is situated on the Mediterranean Sea in the northeast section of Libya.

In an unusual development, Gaouette was removed from his post several weeks after the Benghazi attack allegedly because of an investigation into his professional judgment.  The Stennis is now commanded by Capt. Ronald Reis.

Last month, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin responded only with “no comment” to an inquiry from The Post & Email about Gaouette’s whereabouts and well-being.  A second senator on the committee provided no response at all.

It has been rumored that Gaouette and former AFRICOM commander Gen. Carter Ham were replaced by Obama after they continued with contingency plans set in motion by the attack on the Benghazi compound.  Ham had been at a command center inside the Pentagon when he learned of the attack.  He retired last month to lavish praise from Sen. John McCain.

An executive brief written by the U.S. Patriots Union and shared with the Romney campaign last fall states that there were warnings earlier on September 11 that a terrorist attack in Libya on U.S. property was imminent, something which Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney (Ret.) also said during a Fox News interview.

The brief can be accessed here:  Benghazi Executive Summary USPU and states, in part:

The Obama Administration had been warned for twelve months in advance that the situation in Libya was deteriorating to the degree that those officials in Benghazi no longer felt safe and desperately needed additional security. Pleas that Obama officials denied repeatedly all the way up to days before the attacks.

The cables demonstrate that the Obama Administration knew that there was an increasing threat, that it was an organized terrorists threat, that it was planned in advance, that it was well funded and armed in part by the U.S. State Department, that the consulate was a “sitting duck” with inadequate security falling well below standard security protocol and that the events of September 2012 had absolutely nothing to do with an obscure YouTube video.

That the Obama Administration failed to react to repeated warnings all the way up to the day of the attacks, and that even as those cables were pouring into administration officials begging for help, administration officials were knowingly creating a cover story concerning an obscure YouTube video in an effort to escape responsibility for the deaths of American officials…

The cables prove that the Obama Administration is directly and criminally responsible for the events that unfolded on the eleventh anniversary of 9-11-01 – and that they took specific actions to leave the Benghazi consulate vulnerable, and then created a cover story in an effort to escape administrative responsibility.

Despite such warnings, no aircraft carrier was positioned in the Mediterranean Sea or heightened security provided to the U.S. compound in Tripoli or the outpost in Benghazi, where the four Americans were killed.

As of press time on Monday, a car bomb exploded near a hospital in Benghazi, killing “at least nine people,” including three children.

Last October, Rep. Jason Chaffetz told Fox News that in regard to the handling of the Benghazi attack, “the buck stops with the president.” Chaffetz said that he had spoken with General Ham after the attack and that Ham had told him that he was never asked to send assistance to Benghazi, although the U.S. reportedly “has assets in the area.”  Chaffetz said that someone “higher than” Ham would have made the decision whether or not to send military assistance.

While Hillary Clinton verbally took “responsibility” for the murders, an increasing number of individuals with diplomatic, congressional and military credentials are directly blaming Obama for issuing a “stand-down” order to stop any rescue plans which would normally have been set in motion.

“Whoever gave that ‘stand-down‘ order I think is responsible for killing Amb. Stevens and Sean Smith,” said Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney in an interview.

Also last October, another retired military member called the Rush Limbaugh show and gave virtually identical information as CDR Fitzpatrick had in a March 19 interview with The Post & Email regarding the protocol of launching a contingency rescue plan directly following a “flash traffic” message which would have conveyed that the ambassador was in peril.

When the bodies of the four dead Americans were returned to the United States, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Sean Smith’s mother and Tyrone Woods’s father that the creator of the video would be “arrested and prosecuted.”

The New York Times reported that Gen. Ham had been one of three high-level Defense Department officials who had together discussed a response to the Benghazi attack, the other two allegedly being then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey.  In an October 31, 2012 statement, Dempsey specifically denied “rumor and speculation” that Ham’s announced plans to retire were “due to events in Benghazi, Libya, on [Sept. 11,] 2012.”

However, Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email that he could confirm that Ham had “retired” because he had refused to obey the “stand-down” order which ultimately could have come only from Obama, a statement with which retired military officers and at least one member of Congress agree.  Major media outlets which have heretofore been propaganda mouthpieces for Obama’s regime have suggested that his actions on the evening of September 11, 2012 could lead to impeachment.

“If we had had a carrier in the Mediterranean, it could have been anchored off of the cost of Benghazi and they could have sent helicopters to help out,” Fitzpatrick told us.  “A carrier in the Mediterranean was like butter on bread; you always had one there.  When you take a look at all the kinds of things going on in the region – all the countries that are there, the dynamic political situation, the fact that there are several different unified commands that touch on the Mediterranean – you have Africa Command, European Command, Central Command, which are all tied together in the Med- why wouldn’t you have a carrier there?  Take a look at what’s going on in Syria and Israel right now.  Iran would be the Fifth Fleet; you have the Sixth fleet in the Mediterranean.  But the point is that you should have a carrier in the Med.”

THE POST & EMAIL:  And it’s abnormal that we did not?

CDR FITZPATRICK:  Correct.  It’s obscene and a military mistake of monumental proportions, and it’s because of Obama. We don’t have a carrier in the Med because of Obama.  And you have a guy like Mike Mullen who was Chief of Naval Operations, then he went on to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then he was one of the two members of the Accountability Review Board.  Mike Mullen is a surface warfare officer, for goodness’ sake; he knows about ships.  He of all people should have come out and said, “There was no aircraft carrier in the Med that night.”  Don’t misunderstand me:  Obama is responsible for a lot of reasons because we have a lot of military bases and outposts in and around the Mediterranean.  We don’t necessarily need a carrier in the Mediterranean to have responded to Benghazi on the evening of September 11-12, but a carrier would have been an appropriate tool to have ready.

Obama is responsible for the deaths of those people because he didn’t deploy a carrier into the Med.  Think about it:  If you want to wreak havoc in Libya, if there’s an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean, you as someone who is contemplating raising up  a combat episode in the Med always have to think about that aircraft carrier, where it is, and where it’s coming from.  Well, they didn’t have to worry about a carrier in the Med, did they?

It’s very easy for people to forget about that.

THE POST & EMAIL:  Thomas Jefferson had refused to pay ransoms demanded by the Barbary pirates.

CDR FITZPATRICK:  “…From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli”…the Barbary pirates…we’ve always had ships in that area.  This goes back a long, long way.  That’s one place where you always want to have one.  An aircraft carrier is like its own military base which can move around.  It’s its own city, its own air force, and it can move inside the Med.  It can get from one place to another place in the Med in a matter of moments.

THE POST & EMAIL:  How fast can an aircraft carrier move?

CDR FITZPATRICK:  Pretty gosh-darn fast.  You can have carriers coming in from different directions.  You can have a carrier in the Persian Gulf, which is heading up towards the northern Gulf up towards Iraq; you can have that carrier getting close to the Med; you can have a carrier in Northern Arabian Sea moving up the Red Sea to join forces with another carrier in the Med; you can have planes launching from one ship landing on another ship, and that doesn’t take into account all the landing solutions that you have.  But carriers can move; that’s the whole point of an aircraft carrier.  It can move.  It’s a floating airport, for goodness’ sakes.

So when you ask how fast it can get from one place to the next, if it’s in the Mediterranean, it can launch airplanes, and the airplanes can get to where they need to be within a matter of hours or minutes.  And those planes don’t have to return to the carrier.  They could have launched out of the Med; they could have landed in Sigonella (Naval Air Station); this is just one scenario, or any other airbase to which we had access in the Mediterranean.  The calculus is very complex, and you start to lose people when you talk about the different ways that planes can launch and land and maneuver in the area and then return to base.  We didn’t have a carrier in the Med, and we don’t have one in the Med today.  Why not?  Why not?

We know that Mr. Obama gave a stand-down order to the military that night and that he is the only person who could have given that order.

Had there been a carrier in the Med that night, Obama would have stood it down, which would be more telling about whatever Obama did that night than anything else.  This is very important:  If Obama had had an aircraft carrier in the Med that night, he would have had to issue an order to that carrier strike group commander to stand down.  Because there was no carrier, that hasn’t been raised up as an issue.

[Editor's Note:  In testimony heard on Wednesday from Gregory Hicks, who became acting charge d'affaires after the death of Amb. Christopher Stevens on September 11, Hicks stated that a Lt. Col. Gibson had assembled an emergency team at Hicks's request to immediately go to Benghazi following news of the attack.  Hicks stated that Gibson reported that he had been told through a military chain of command not to go and that Gibson had been "furious."  When a member of Congress asked Hicks who in the military chain of command had given the order, Hicks referred him to Gibson, stating that he did not know.]

Who gave the order to stand down to Lt. Col. Gibson?  General Ham got fired because he refused to give the stand-down order.

Let me play out for you what happened on the evening of the 11th of September into the morning of the 12th of September as it relates specifically to four-star general Carter Ham.

THE POST & EMAIL:  Are you confirming this?

CDR FITZPATRICK:  Yes.  On the tenth of September, I don’t know who Gibson was working for.  As far as I can tell, he was working either for Adm. William McRaven under Special Operations Command or Gen. Carter Ham, Africa Command.

Now we get to the 11th; now we start to deal with the command structure.

On the Special Operations Command side, there was no problem.  If Gibson was working under Special Operations Command that night, then we know for certain that the stand-down order came from Adm. McRaven, who was repeating the order from Obama.  Let’s say instead that Lt. Col. Gibson was working that night in the Africa Command under Gen. Ham.  The night that this went down, and as we talked about, there are contingency plans in place where a guy like Lt. Col. Gibson reacts instantly to do something, and he would have to be turned off.

THE POST & EMAIL:  And normally he wouldn’t be; he would react and carry out his rescue plan, correct?

CDR FITZPATRICK: Exactly.  Now if he was working for Special Operations Command, then he was specifically told “Stand down,” and that order came from McRaven, who received it from Obama. If he was working for Africa Command, there would have been more confusion for Gibson that night than in any other circumstance.

Here’s what happened:  the order came down to all commanders that night:  “Stand down,” and some of those commanders refused to obey.  One of them was Gen. Carter Ham.  He knew there was a contingency plan under way and that it was being carried out without anybody doing anything other than to let it continue as the contingency plan called for.  So if Lt. Col. Gibson was working for Gen. Ham in that moment, Gibson knew what his orders were, and he was carrying them out under Gen. Ham, and then at that moment when the order to stand down came to him and Gen. Ham refused to obey, Gen. Ham got fired.

Gen. David Rodriguez became commander of USAFRICOM on April 5, 2013, the same day on which Gen. Carter Ham retired

The stand-down order came in, and Gen. Ham did not further issue the order; he let the contingency plan play out.  Everyone else in Africa Command was continuing with the mission.  Ham was told to stop it by Obama and he didn’t stop it.  It was at that moment that Ham was relieved of his command and placed under arrest, from what I understand, and then the order to “stand down” would have been issued by a guy named Gen. David Rodriguez. I’m told that Ham was placed under arrest in the National Military Command Center (NMCC) in the basement of the Pentagon.

The order to stand down, then, if it came from Africa Command, it came from David Rodriguez, who was Ham’s second-in-command.

THE POST & EMAIL:  And he was officially appointed to replace Ham after he retired last month.

CDR FITZPATRICK:  So with regard to Lt. Col. Gibson, the stand-down order either came from Gen. David Rodriguez after he was ordered to fire Gen. Ham or Adm. William McRaven, if Gibson was working for Special Operations Command.

THE POST & EMAIL:  I recall that during last Wednesday’s testimony, Gregory Hicks was asked who gave the order to stand down, and Hicks said he didn’t know and referred the congressman asking the question to Lt. Col. Gibson.

CDR FITZPATRICK:  And Lt. Col. Gibson would be able to tell us who his chain of command was that night.  It was either Adm. McRaven or Gen. David Rodriguez.  In both of those chains of command, at the top of that chain of command is a guy named Obama.

During the testimony, there was another group of people mentioned called a FEST, or Foreign Emergency Support Team, which is another example of a chain of command.  The FEST is a compilation of several different organizations, but its organization parent is the Department of State.  The FEST team is made up of military personnel (Department of Defense), Department of Justice personnel (FBI), CIA personnel, and State Department personnel.  The purpose of the FEST is to respond instantly, not militarily – they go in as an advisory group, to advise the ambassador who is in distress.  So in this circumstance, you had another group of people who were required to deploy into the area to assist the ambassador.  The ambassador to a country is the President of the United States in that country; the ambassador is the president’s direct representative.  When an ambassador is walking around in a country, that is, in fact, the President of the United States.

So when you have a FEST going in to assist the ambassador – and they have all these interdisciplinary connections – what they’re doing is sending in the best people they have from all of the different organizations that would have a stake in the game and possibly a responsibility to respond in one way or another to advise the President of the United States in the person of the ambassador about how best to proceed.  So the FEST team gets into country and they take a look at this, and they recommend to the President of the United States in the person of the ambassador and they say, for example, “Mr. President, we believe that the best way to proceed and respond at this moment is through diplomatic channels,” or “We believe that a military response is required.”  Now, we’re under attack, and then the ambassador becomes the decision-maker based upon that advice.

A FEST team deployed when the USS Cole was bombed in Yemen in 2000 to determine what the best way was to respond when our ship was blown up in an act of war.  The decision-maker is the ambassador.

Had the FEST team deployed the night of the Benghazi attack, they could have been the people saying, “We need to continue with the military contingency plans as they are now under way,” or “We need to turn them off.”

What I’m saying to you is this:  When the FEST team goes in to advise, they’re going in to advise the President of the United States what to do.  When Obama stood down the FEST team, he was saying, “I don’t need your advice.  I’ve already decided what’s going to happen.”  In every other place where Obama knew there was a contingency plan under way and an automatic response triggered, he turned them all off and he said to everybody, “I don’t need your help; I’ve already decided what I’m going to do:  ‘stand down.’”

This is important:  Obama was the guy who decided not to send a carrier into the Med.  Obama is the guy who decided not to let Lt. Col. Gibson proceed with his contingency plan.  Obama is the guy who fired Gen. Ham when Gen. Ham refused the order to stand down and replaced him with Gen. Rodriguez who did follow the order.  Obama is the guy who said to the State Department FEST team, “I do not want your advice.  Do not go.”  It was Obama, and, of course, that circle of rarefied air included Hillary Clinton.

All of these things are actionable against Mr. Obama.  Every time he said, “Don’t go,” that is an act of treason.


Editor’s Note:  The subject of how to file a treason complaint will be covered in a subsequent article.

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