The CIA knew, Panetta knew, Hillary Clinton knew, and Obama the Liar In Chief: The POTUS, must have known, that the USA was working on a covert operation to support the Syrian rebels via US Ambassador Chris Stevens at a diplomatic facility located in Benghazi, Libya. The pathetically remarkable excuse by Panetta, Clinton, and Obama et al that the United States had no warnings of increasingly unstable geo-political environment and of possible and likely impending acts of terror in an already unstable Middle Eastern country such as Libya cannot be ignored especially on the anniversary of 911 – PBN
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told Congress on Thursday that the Pentagon had supported a plan to arm Syrian rebels that was developed last year by David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director at the time, and backed by Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was then serving as Secretary of State.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, left, and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.
Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mr. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were asked by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, if they had supported the recommendation that weapons be provided to the Syrian resistance.
“We did,” Mr. Panetta said.
“You did support that” Mr. McCain asked again.
“We did,” General Dempsey added.
The White House, however, was worried about the risks of getting more deeply involved in the crisis in Syria. And with President Obama in the midst of a re-election bid, the White House rebuffed the plan, rejecting the advice of most of the key members of Mr. Obama’s national security team.
The New York Times reported in its Sunday editions that as the fighting in Syria raged last summer, Mr. Petraeus developed the plan, which Mrs. Clinton supported and that called for vetting rebels and training fighters who would be supplied with weapons.
His proposal offered the potential reward of creating Syrian allies with whom the United States might work, during the conflict and after President Bashar al-Assad’s eventual removal.
Some administration officials expected the issue to be revisited again after the election. But when Mr. Petraeus resigned because of an extramarital affair and Mrs. Clinton suffered a concussion, missing weeks of work, the issue was shelved.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta was said by some officials to have been sympathetic to the idea, which was presented to the White House last year, though a spokesman for Mr. Panetta declined to comment on his role when asked last week.
General Dempsey made his comments during testimony with Mr. Panetta on the Sept. 11 attack on an American compound on Benghazi, Libya, which led to the deaths of J. Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador, and three other Americans.
Discussing steps to improve security at American compounds abroad, Mr. Panetta said that it would take two to three years to add the 35 new Marine security guard detachments that the United States plans to deploy to improve the security of American diplomatic compounds abroad.
The Marines have guard units at 152 diplomatic compounds, but did not have one in Benghazi when the assault occurred. Mr. Panetta said that the role of the Marines detachments would be expanded beyond protecting classified information at the compounds.
“This could include expanded use of nonlethal weapons, and additional training and equipment, to support the Embassy Regional Security Officer’s response options when host nation security force capabilities are at risk of being overwhelmed,” Mr. Panetta said in his prepared remarks.
Mr. Panetta said that the Pentagon was not able to respond more quickly to the Benghazi episode because it had not received an intelligence alert about animpending attack.
“Without adequate warning, there was not enough time given the speed of the attack for armed military assets to respond,” Mr. Panetta told the committee in his prepared statement.
When the attack began, the Pentagon had no forces that could be rapidly sent to Benghazi or to protect diplomatic outposts in Tunisia, Egypt or Algeria that might also have come under assault on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The closest AC-130 gunship was in Afghanistan. There are no armed drones thought to be within range of Libya. There was no Marine expeditionary unit — a large seaborne force with its own helicopters — in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Africa Command, whose area of operation includes North Africa, also did not have on hand a force able to respond rapidly to emergencies — a Commanders’ In-Extremis Force, or C.I.F., as it is known. Every other regional command had one at the time, but the Africa Command shared one with the European Command, and it was on an exercise in Croatia at the time.
In his prepared remarks, Mr. Panetta did not address the question of whether the Africa Command had requested any of these forces to be on hand on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Nor did he say whether Mr. Panetta or General Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had given any thought to moving forces to the region as a precaution before the attacks in September last year.
Senator McCain criticized the Pentagon for not positioning more forces in the region before the anniversary of Sept. 11 so they could more rapidly respond.
“We could have placed forces there,” he said. “We could have had aircraft and other capabilities as short distance away as Souda Bay, Crete.”
By MICHAEL R. GORDON