The outrage continues to mount over the lack of response at the highest levels of the U.S. government to the terrorist attack on Benghazi on September 11.
While President Obama has repeatedly stated that he immediately gave instructions to secure Americans in harm’s way, it is still unclear to whom he gave these instructions. What is clear is that they were not given to the people who were actually in a position to help.
We now learn that the government’s own Counterterrorism Security Group (CSG) was never convened during or after the attack. Members of the interagency group are steamed, and sources have been leaking information to Fox News and CBS, which reported this news yesterday.
A protocol set forth in a classified presidential directive quoted by CBS calls for the CSG to be convened in the event of a possible terrorist attack. It is designed to “synchronize the efforts of all the government agencies that have a role to play in the Global War on Terrorism.” The CSG knows “of multiple options and [has] the ability to coordinate counterterrorism assets across all the agencies,” an official told CBS.
The lack of cohesion in the Administration’s requests left the group and others frustrated. Commands were given and then recalled, important factors were not considered in planning, and some plans were pointless due to the amount of time that had already elapsed.
“The response was isolated at the most senior level,” said one military official. “My fellow counterterrorism professionals and I (were) not consulted.”
In the hours and days after the attack, major assets in counterterrorism efforts (the CSG and Foreign Emergency Support Team, a rapid-response unit) were disregarded, and the decisions made were compartmentalized and isolated at the very top.
Fox News’s Jennifer Griffin reported, “I’m told at the most senior level of the Administration and there’s a great deal of frustration in the counterterrorism community that some of those counter-terror assets weren’t used in the initial hours and days.”
Meanwhile, the battle went on for seven hours in Benghazi, in the course of which three security personnel who tried to come to Ambassador Christopher Stevens’s help paid with their lives.