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by Sharon Rondeau

Gen. Carter Ham (Ret.) was commander of AFRICOM until April 5, 2013. Unexpectedly, his retirement was announced on October 18, 2012, five weeks after it was reported that he was “relieved of command” in the National Military Command Center in the basement of the Pentagon for disobeying Obama’s order to “stand down” assistance to Benghazi

(Jun. 25, 2013) — On May 20, 2013, The Post & Email identified the military commander who would have issued the “stand-down” order to Lt. Col. Steve Gibson after he and his team prepared to assist those who had come under attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.

Gibson was identified by State Department employee Gregory Hicks during his testimony to Congress as having been “furious” at having been told he did not “have the authority” to go to Benghazi after word of the attack arrived.

Gibson’s superior at the time was RADM Brian Losey, who was commander of SOCAFRICA, which is a Special Operations command not limited by geographical region. Hicks did not know Gibson’s chain of command when he testified to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on May 8.

Losey is no longer SOCAFRICA commander, with Brigadier General James B. Linder having succeeded him on June 7.  Losey is now Commander, Navy Special Warfare Command, with his biography having been updated on June 24, 2013.  A source for The Post & Email advised that Losey’s new position is a promotion and will earn him “his second star soon.”

Losey spent approximately two years as head of SOCAFRICA.  Upon his reassignment, he was lauded by Gen. David Rodriguez, who assumed control of AFRICOM from Ham in April.  Rodriguez stated of Losey’s leadership:

Special Operations Command Africa made great progress in deepening relationships with Africa and European partners, building partner defense capabilities, strengthening relationships with U.S. country teams, and preparing to respond to crisis.

Then why did no one respond to the attack in Benghazi?

Losey is expected to testify on Wednesday to the House Armed Services Committee in a closed-door briefing.  However, the hearing, although reported as “classified,” is not on the committee’s calendar as of this writing.  A call placed to the media spokesman of the committee to verify the hearing was not returned as of press time.

General Carter Ham, AFRICOM commander until his retirement in April, reportedly will also testify, as will Gibson.

In August 2011, Ham had told Congress that many weapons from the former Gaddafi regime in Libya were “unaccounted for.”  Two of those killed on September 11 were reportedly tracking and retrieving such weapons through a CIA operation.

Last year, Ham and Losey had given a press conference regarding their joint efforts to combat the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda and southern Sudan.

A source for Breitbart stated that Gibson’s immediate superior on September 11 was Marine Corps Col. George Bristol, who retired in March.  At his retirement ceremony, Bristol said that AFRICOM’s role in an ever-increasingly dangerous environment caused by “violent extremist groups” was to enable legitimate African military forces to “provide for their own security.”

Losey, as SOCAFRICA commander at the time, was Bristol’s superior.

Last October, a Washington Times reporter stated that “The decision to stand down as the Benghazi terrorist attack was underway was met with extreme opposition from the inside. The Washington Times‘s James Robbins, citing a source inside the military, reveals that General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, who got the same emails requesting help received by the White House, put a rapid response team together and notified the Pentagon it was ready to go. He was ordered to stay put.”

The White House has not commented on the stand-down order and will not say what Obama was doing on the night of September 11.  However, Breitbart’s source, a congresswoman who was once ambassador to Luxembourg, retired military officers and The Post & Email’s sources agree that such an edict could have come only from the sitting commander-in-chief.  Obama said publicly that he issued “three directives” immediately after hearing of the Benghazi attack, but then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that Obama left the management of the crisis up to Dempsey and him.

Various retired military officers have stated that assistance via the air could have been provided and would have been effective in Benghazi.

According to several retired military officers, instant messages were generated within seconds of the attack, as they would be with any attack on U.S. interests.  Therefore, Obama would have received the message at the same time as everyone else authorized to receive it in the chain of command and did not need his Defense Secretary to advise him of such an emergency.

Fox News’s Chris Wallace stated on air that Obama “wanted to deploy forces to Benghazi” and that Obama was told, “There were no forces,” a contention not confirmed by Wallace’s interviewee, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer.

Obama’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey testified to Congress earlier this month that no “stand-down” order was given, but rather, a redirection of Gibson’s team to Tripoli, which did not come under attack that night but with the stated purpose of readying the airport for survivors of the attack.

CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (USN, Ret.) noted that there has been no aircraft carrier positioned in the Mediterranean Sea under Obam as highly unusual and leaving the region open to attack.  He and other retired military officers have stated that emergency response plans already in place were activated but then stopped.

Another commander, Adm. Charles Gaouette, was removed from his post several weeks after the attack in Benghazi, reportedly for an investigation into an allegation of “inappropriate leadership judgment,” after less than a year.   When The Post & Email inquired of the office of Sen. Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as to Gaouette’s well-being and whereabouts in April, the response we received was “Sen. Levin has no comment.”

Rep. Jason Chaffetz has spoken with Gen. Ham, who reportedly told him that he was “never given” an order to send assistance in response to the attack in Benghazi.  However, according to Fitzpatrick and others, Ham was issued a “stand-down” order while in the basement of the Pentagon but refused to comply.  According to the account, Ham was then reportedly relieved of his command by Gen. David Rodriguez, who is now officially AFRICOM commander.  The account has been corroborated by other sources.

A link in a story at the “Before It’s News” website to an external source which apparently supported the contention that Ham was relieved of duty and placed under “arrest” is now broken.  The same link in the original story is also broken.

As reported by The Washington Times, Ham’s replacement by Rodriguez was announced on October 18, and Ham was not expected to retire in 2013.  Ham reportedly told Chaffetz that he was “had never been asked to provide military support for the Americans under attack in Benghazi,” but Panetta stated that Ham had agreed that “we could not put forces at risk in that situation.”

On October 25, 2012, The New York Times reported:

Mr. Panetta was at the White House for a regular meeting on the afternoon of Sept. 11 as the first reports of the attack unfolded, an American official said. By that evening Mr. Panetta had consulted with General Dempsey and General Ham and had ordered a number of American military forces in the region to move closer to Libya.

On March 13, TIME Magazine reported that Ham had told Sen. Lindsey Graham that he “considered, but did not request, the deployment of fighter aircraft” in response to the Benghazi attack. TIME also wrote, quoting Ham, “If I could turn the clock back,” Ham told the senators about the limited action the U.S. military took that night, “I would make different decisions based on what I know now, as opposed to what I knew then.”

Other news reports say that Ham’s anticipated testimony on Wednesday will be his first time he has been “questioned by Congress.”  Fox News has reported that Wednesday is both Ham’s first and second time testifying to Congress.

Two weeks prior to his retirement, Ham tolda group of South African journalists who had traveled to AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany that AFRICOM had acquired “its own” Commander’s In-Extremis force for rapid deployment “in the event of a crisis.”

On February 29, 2012, Ham had told the House Armed Services Committee that three distinct terrorist groups from three different African countries were seeking methods by which “to coordinate their training, funding and terror activities, triggering increased U.S. national security worries.”  According to The Navy Times, Ham spoke about “the formalized merger of al-Shabab and al-Qaida, announced Feb. 9 by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri,” which could “allow the groups to focus on threats against American interests.”

Ham and Adm. James Stavridis had together told the committee that “the forces in Europe can more quickly get to hotspots in the region, including the Middle East, Eastern Europe or Africa.”

Gregory Hicks testified that he was instructed by State Department attorney Cheryl Mills not to speak with Chaffetz alone when Chaffetz traveled to Libya after the attack on a fact-finding trip.  Hicks also said that he had been told that military assistance to Benghazi could have arrived in approximately two hours.

On May 21, 2013, PJMedia reported that “more whistleblowers” would be coming forward to detail “what Ambassador Chris Stevens was actually doing in Benghazi and the pressure put on General Carter Ham, then in command of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and therefore responsible for Libya, not to act to protect jeopardized U.S. personnel.”

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