Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Lovell

WASHINGTON – A retired U.S. general who played a key role in counter-terrorism planning for Libya affirmed to Congress Thursday that when a barrage of heavily armed al-Qaida-backed terrorists overran a U.S. compound in Benghazi, the military did not run toward the sound of the guns.

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Lovell, the deputy head of intelligence at the Africa Command when the attack occurred, was put on the spot by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

Chaffetz asked, “We didn’t run to the sound of the guns. They were issuing press releases. We had Americans dying. We had dead people. We had wounded people. And our military didn’t try to engage in that fight. Would you disagree with that?”

Lovell replied: “Four individuals died. Sir, we obviously did not respond in time to get there.”

Chaffetz, whose time for questioning had expired, followed up, “Could we have?”

Lovell, who was testifying before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, paused.

“We may have been able to, but we’ll never know,” he said.

“Because we didn’t try,” Chaffetz concluded.

However, the committee’s ranking Democrat member, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, praised President Obama’s handling of Benghazi, pointing to Republican Sen. John McCain’s response immediately after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack.

“Sen. McCain applauded the president’s decision, by the way,” Cummings said. “During a press conference in Libya, [McCain] stated, and I quote, ‘Had President Obama and our allies not acted, history would have remembered Benghazi in the same breath as former Yugoslavia, a scene of mass atrocities and a source of international shame, end of quote.'”

Picture of desperation

Nevertheless, in congressional testimony Thursday, emails released by the Heritage Foundation this week and reports from the Citizens Commission on Benghazi show that, contrary to the White House narrative during the 2012 election campaign, al-Qaida was “not on the run.”

In fact, White House and key State Department officials all played a part in making sure al-Qaida-backed jihadis had everything they needed to prop up a “democratic” government in Libya that al-Qaida and its cohorts essentially are running.

“Weapons are the de-facto currency through which decisions are made,” testified Frederic Where, senior associate with the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“Since 2012, militias have become politicized. The idea was to harness the manpower to fill the void left by the Libyan army. This has been a disastrous Faustian bargain that gave jihadists more power. Actors remain on the outside of Libyan government,” he said.

It’s the same government that President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and McCain fully supported.

WND reported last week Libya is in shambles, controlled by jihadi elements that include the al-Qaida-backed Ansar al Shariah, the group believed to be responsible for the Benghazi attack.

Ansar al Shariah’s aim is to help implement strict Islamic law, or Shariah, across Africa. Their weapons are obtained with American taxpayer dollars and White House support, according to report by the Center for Security Policy.

The Center for Security and Policy’s Clare Lopez said in the report that in 2011, America switched sides in the global war on terror by providing banned material support for weapons in Libya.

Roger Ahoff, editor of Accuracy in Media, affirmed in an email briefing to reporters this week that the National Transitional Council of Libya, the de facto government after the war that ousted Muammar Gadhafi, “had jihadi ties.”

“But the core of the story lies in the fact that half of these weapons were skimmed off the top and sold to Gadhafi’s forces to pay for and extend the war,” he said.

Picture of desperation

Lovell, testifying Thursday, painted a picture of desperation in the command center during the Benghazi attack as officials tried to gain situational awareness to be able to save lives.

Responding to Chaffetz, the retired general affirmed that assets stationed in Europe did not “go to the sound of the guns” that night.

When Chaffetz asked why not, Lovell said, “[T]here was a lot of looking to the State Department for what it was that they wanted, and in the deference to the Libyan people and the sense of deference to the desires of the State Department in terms of what they would like to have.”

Lovell has 33 years of military joint operations experience, including serving as Defense Department liaison to the National Science Foundation, which plays a heavy role in the research and development of directed energy and nuclear weapons.

Lovell also is former deputy director of the Intelligence and Knowledge Development Directorate (J-2), U.S. Africa Command, and former deputy commanding general of Joint Task Force Odyssey Guard.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, asked whether he or other top brass urge the State Department to take specific action “when you knew a terrorist attack had taken place on our people at our facility in Benghazi.”

“I can’t speak for anyone other than myself, that that was not my place to encourage them to do that,” Lovell told Jordan.

Lovell stammered over his words as he responded to Jordan’s inquiry.

“Oh, I don’t know that they urged to take action. There was definitely dialogue over what action wanted to be taken,” Lovell said.

Jordan asked Lovell to affirm he was “trained in a culture that says when you have seamen, airmen, soldiers under attack, you respond, right?”

Lowell replied: “Yeah. On location where I was located, it was a senior admiral that was in charge there, but Gen. (Carter) Ham was engaged back in D.C.”

Ham, the commander of U.S. Africa Command, led the initial 2011 military intervention in Libya.

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