Garth Kant is WND Washington news editor. Previously, he spent five years writing, copy-editing and producing at "CNN Headline News," three years writing, copy-editing and training writers at MSNBC, and also served several local TV newsrooms as producer, executive producer and assistant news director. He is the author of the McGraw-Hill textbook, "How to Write Television News."More ↓Less ↑
WASHINGTON – “There’s nothing we can do” appears to be the message the Obama administration is sending to U.S. embassies around the world when they come under attack, according to testimony elicited by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.
Referring to the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Bengahzi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, she asked a State Department official, “In seven-plus hours there was nothing that we could do? So that’s the message that we’re sending to our embassies? When you’re in trouble, seven-plus hours, we’re in the 1930s. We can’t get to you?”
That stark observation was the result of her questioning of Patrick F. Kennedy, Under Secretary for Management at the State Department, during a House Foreign Affairs committee hearing.
When the congresswoman asked why no help was sent to a U.S. Ambassador under attack, Kennedy said the nearest help was too far away.
KENNEDY: The nearest — the nearest U.S. military forces were in Djibouti.
REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: And in seven hours –
KENNEDY: The distance from Djibouti to Benghazi –
REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: Really?
KENNEDY: — is about the distance from Washington to Dallas, to Dallas to –
REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: So it would have been impossible, you’re saying?
KENNEDY: There were no — yes. There were no U.S. –
That’s when she expressed astonishment that the U.S. military could not respond to an attack on a U.S. ambassador in seven hours.
It was an eerie echo of the observation by the State Department official who actually did try to get military help to Benghazi during the attack.
As WND reported, “We were under attack, and we were on our own,” U.S. diplomat Gregory Hicks, present in Tripoli, Libya at the time of the attack, testified before Congress in May.
Committee chairman Edward Royce, R-Calif. said, “The focus of today’s hearing, which is our fourth, is the troubling lack of accountability we have seen within the State Department since that time.”
“The bottom line is that over one year later, no State Department personnel have been held accountable for the department’s failure to protect the Benghazi consulate and the U.S. personnel there, not one.”
But while Royce said none of the officials who failed to send help has been held accountable, Hicks, the whistleblower who did try to save the lives of the ambassador and the three other Americans who died, said he has been punished.
Hicks told ABC News his State Department career has been put in limbo, and, “I don’t know why I was punished. I don’t know why I was shunted aside, put in a closet, if you will.”
He said he was risking further damage to his career by speaking out, “Because the American people need to have the story, and Ambassador Chris Stephens, Sean Smith, Ty Woods and Glenn Dougherty’s names should be remembered by every American. The sacrifices that they made.”