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DID THE ORDER FOR GIBSON TO HALT RESCUE OPERATIONS IN BENGHAZI COME FROM THIS MAN?
by Sharon Rondeau
(May 20, 2013) — On May 8, former Benghazi charge d’affaires Gregory Hicks testified to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that after a terrorist attack on a U.S. compound on September 11, 2012, a “Lt. Col. Gibson” had been ready to travel from Tripoli to Benghazi with a team to mount a rescue but that Gibson was told by someone in his chain of command to “stand down.”
Four Americans were killed in the attack over a seven-hour period, including the ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.
On Sunday, CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.) explained the chain of command in different units of the military, reporting that Gibson would have been in either the SOCAFRICA or AFRICOM command. “SOC” stands for “Special Operations Command,” which is not limited by geography, whereas “AFRICOM” is a regional command.
On September 11, AFRICOM had been led by Gen. Carter Ham, who Fitzpatrick reported was “arrested” and relieved of duty in the Pentagon for refusing to obey a “stand-down” order which ultimately would have come from the White House. Fitzpatrick said that the order would have gone out from the White House to all commanders of all military divisions that night.
A second report supports Fitzpatrick’s contentions, as does a third in The Washington Times. Several retired military members and a congresswoman have said that the president is the only person who can issue a “stand-down” order.
Hicks had told members of the committee that two “stand-down” orders had been given to two different crisis teams mobilized after the Benghazi compound came under attack and Stevens went missing. Hicks said he did not know who had given the order to Gibson. Hicks had described Gibson as “furious” over the stand-down order and said that Gibson remarked that Hicks showed more courage than the military on the evening of the attack.
CBS also reported that Gibson was “commander” of SOCAFRICA, but that does not appear to be accurate. Rear Adm. Brian Losey was identified as commander of SOCAFRICA beginning in June 2011 and was reported to be serving in the position in March of this year.
SOCAFRICA reports directly to Adm. William McRaven, Unified Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.
CBS News reported that Gibson was told via a phone call from SOCAFRICA that “you can’t go now; you don’t have the authority to go now.”
Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email that upon Obama’s issuance of the order to “stand down,” the order would have been communicated to McRaven, to Losey, and then to Gibson.
U.S. News & World Report stated that the Pentagon acknowledged that Special Forces troops “were ordered to remain where they would do the most good” on the night of September 11.
On March 15, 2013, Ham told the U.S. House Armed Services Committee that “U.S. forces tasked with keeping a lid on the escalating terrorist threat emanating from Africa are suffering from a significant gap in military intelligence and special operations forces assets.” Ham retired in April and was replaced by the officer who Fitzpatrick reported relieved him of duty, Gen. David Rodriguez. Rodriguez was confirmed by the Senate on March 5 after it was announced by then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta last October that Rodriguez had been chosen by Obama to replace Ham.
Panetta lauded Ham’s service as AFRICOM commander but did not say why he was being replaced. In response to allegations that Ham had been replaced by Rodriguez because of Ham’s actions to defy the stand-down order on September 11, Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey said, ““The speculation that General Carter Ham is departing Africa Command (AFRICOM) due to events in Benghazi, Libya on 11 September 2012 is absolutely false. General Ham’s departure is part of routine succession planning that has been on going since July. He continues to serve in AFRICOM with my complete confidence.”
While testifying to members of Congress about the military response to the Benghazi attack, Dempsey and then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that “U.S. troops in the area were on heightened alert because of the 9/11 anniversary.” Panetta contended that “without real-time information about what was happening, he, Dempsey and Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, who leads U.S. Africa Command, all ‘felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.’”
Retired military commanders have disagreed by stating that help could have arrived within two hours or that an aircraft could have been flown over the compound to cause sonic booms and disrupt the terrorists.
Dempsey testified that while Americans “deserve to understand what happened in Benghazi,” it was “not helpful…to provide partial answers.”
In addition to the four who were killed in the attack, a Diplomatic Security Service officer was reportedly seriously wounded. During testimony on May 8, Hicks had referred to an injured man as “David Evans.”
The House Oversight Committee intends to hold additional hearings with the two members of the Accountability Review Board (ARB) appointed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to examine why the Benghazi compound suffered the severe security failure which permitted the attack and the four Americans to die.
On Sunday, The Post & Email discussed the possibility of whether or not White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett could have been the ultimate source of the stand-down order, given that she had reportedly “advised” Obama on three separate occasions to “stand down” raids on Osama bin Laden when the military had located his hideout.
Based on a law enforcement investigation which has concluded that Obama’s identification documents are fraudulent, the possibility exists that he is not a U.S. citizen, much less a “natural born Citizen,” which would render him ineligible to act as president and commander-in-chief of the military.
Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin, a former Army flight surgeon, went to prison, forfeiting his career, pension and pay after questioning whether or not Obama was eligible to serve, as Lakin was concerned he would be following illegal orders if Obama proved ineligible. While Lakin was still at Ft. Leavenworth, Obama released what has been declared a fraudulent long-form birth certificate.
Mike Zullo, lead investigator of the Cold Case Posse which conducted the probe into Obama’s birth certificate and Selective Service registration form, told The Post & Email last week that if Congress had looked at Obama’s credentials sooner, “Benghazi might never have happened.”