[HASC] – The Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations received testimony in a classified briefing from three key figures involved in the response to the attack on Americans in Benghazi. General Carter Ham (ret), former Commander, AFRICOM; Lieutenant Colonel S.E. Gibson, former commander of the site security team at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli; and Rear Admiral Brian Losey, former commander, Special Operations Command Africa, all offered accounts of U.S. force posture and planning ahead of the attack, and actions taken during and after the attack. While the subcommittee will continue to carry out appropriate oversight, today’s witnesses did clarify several matters with respect to the events of September 11 and 12, 2012.
Pre-9/11 Force Posture and Planning: On September 10, 2012 the White House issued a readout of a presidential briefing on 9/11 planning. The readout said the briefing was the culmination of “numerous meetings to review security measures in place” chaired by John Brennan. The readout also reported that the briefing included “steps taken to protect U.S. persons and facilities abroad, as well as force protection.”
When questioned about this process today, General Ham, the combatant commander responsible for one of the most volatile threat environments in the world, stated that neither he or anyone working for him was consulted as part of the Brennan 9/11 planning process.
Response to the Benghazi Attack: In his testimony, LTC Gibson clarified his responsibilities and actions during the attack. Contrary to news reports, Gibson was not ordered to “stand down” by higher command authorities in response to his understandable desire to lead a group of three other Special Forces soldiers to Benghazi. Rather, he was ordered to remain in Tripoli to defend Americans there in anticipation of possible additional attacks, and to assist the survivors as they returned from Benghazi. Gibson acknowledged that had he deployed to Benghazi he would have left Americans in Tripoli undefended. He also stated that in hindsight, he would not have been able to get to Benghazi in time to make a difference, and as it turned out his medic was needed to provide urgent assistance to survivors once they arrived in Tripoli.”