Editor’s Note: WND asked national security expert Michael Maloof, a senior staff writer, to assemble the unanswered questions for Benghazi-gate:
WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s lack of answers at her recent appearance before Congress on the attack on the U.S. operation in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, has prompted further concerns that the American public is no closer now to knowing what happened – more than four months after the event.
Next up will be Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is scheduled to testify Thursday.
Specific questions which Clinton and other Obama administration officials haven’t answered, but should, include:
- What did you know, and when did you know about the standoff occurring in Benghazi?
- Why did President Obama declare publicly in initial comments only hours following the Benghazi attack that it indeed was a terrorist attack but later in a CBS interview backtracked by saying that it was too early to determine whether it was a terrorist attack?
- What were events that led to him backtracking on his initial assessment in which he clearly had been advised initially that it was a terrorist attack and there reportedly were live feeds from overhead drones showing the attack?
- Were Obama and Clinton informed at the time the attack was unfolding? If so, what orders did Clinton give to seek to secure the facility?
- Was Clinton in direct contact at any time with the Secretary of Defense to determine what Special Forces were available to lend assistance? Was she also in contact with the director of the Central Intelligence Agency to ascertain whether he had any assets in the area to rush to the assistance of the beleaguered facility?
- If she had not been informed at the time of the attack, at what level in the Department of State were officials informed and what action, if any, was ordered and with whom in the Defense Department and at CIA were they in contact?
- Who were the State Department officials aware of the pre-911 security requests from Ambassador Christopher Stevens and other U.S. personnel in Libya?
- What was Ambassador Stevens doing in Benghazi without his usual security detail, especially since he had written earlier to the State Department on the poor security at the facility, considering the already dangerous environment of Libya?
- Why were his repeated requests for security either ignored, or turned down?
- Since warnings are issued by the State Department on every anniversary of 9/11 to all posts to heighten security, why wasn’t it done at Benghazi, especially since the ambassador was traveling to the facility on a mission known by the State Department and CIA?
- At the time of the attack, there reportedly were overhead drones providing live feeds on the attack of the consulate. Why weren’t U.S. forces then alerted and sent to the facility? There have been reports that the State Department was waiting for a response from the Libyan government, but there also is a duty, given the live feeds of the attack, to bring in U.S. forces to protect U.S. lives and property. Why wasn’t that done?
- Why weren’t U.S. forces directed to be sent in, in light of a statement by the U.S. commander for Africa, Gen. Carter Ham, that he had the capabilities and was ready to go but never directed to go. Why is that?
- Why was a U.S. Marine fast action team out of Rota, Spain, told to take off their uniforms before going in to rescue the ambassador and the other three Americans? Why did the military conclude that the military couldn’t do anything? Why didn’t the accountability board even look at that? Why did CIA have such a large detail at the safe house location?
- Why did Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick F. Kennedy withdraw from Libya’s capital a 16-member special operations forces detachment that was assisting with security, a decision which was made two weeks prior to the Benghazi attack?
- What was the rationale for Kennedy’s decision in light of frequent appeals by Ambassador Stevens for enhanced security, as he expressed increasing concern about the deteriorating security environment in Libya and the fact that the Libyan government itself was not in a position to provide adequate security at the U.S. embassy or consulate in Benghazi?
- Considering the increasing volatility in Benghazi and the fact that the consulate there was in an isolated position, why did the State Department and the CIA keep it open?
- There were reports that the two former SEALs – Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty – killed in attempting to protect the ambassador and the consulate were contractors for CIA and their main purpose was to work out of a safe house not far from the consulate, ostensibly to inventory various weapons, some of which separate reporting says were then transferred to the opposition forces in Syria. In light of this prospect, why wasn’t more security in place to protect the few CIA contractors who were there?
- In such a high-risk security environment, why was security for the consulate provided by Libyans? Did they stick around to provide security for the consulate once the attack began?
- Since they may not have, there also are indications that some of those providing security at the consulate either tipped off the terrorists or somehow pinpointed where in the consulate to attack, as well as identify the location of the safe houses where U.S. personnel escaped once the attack began. What has the State Department investigation revealed as to collusion with the terrorists by local Libyans charged with providing security for the consulate?
- Why was the FBI barred for 24 days from going to the consulate to secure evidence when reporters were given ready access and had obtained sensitive information which was later turned over to U.S. authorities?
- We were told that four State Department officials involved in the decision-making process on security were removed or resigned. We now learn that isn’t true. Why did the State Department lie about the status of those in State Department management responsible for this security debacle?
- In light of the Benghazi experience, has there been any effort by the Obama administration in close coordination with the Defense Department and CIA to revise operational procedures to ensure that quick-reaction armed resources are available much sooner in future instances of impending or actual attack on U.S. facilities abroad?