Politics: U.S. Drone was watching Benghazi attacks - Obama admin did nothing

Published by: Robert Laurie on Sunday October 21st, 2012

Robert Laurie

By ROBERT LAURIE - former CIA commander “They stood, and they watched, and our people died.”

You would think we’d heard the worst of the news regarding the Obama administration’s reaction to the Banghazi attacks.  You’d be wrong.  It seems that, with each passing day, some new fact appears that manages to make the situation look worse.

Last night, it was a CBS News report that confirmed the presence of a United States predator drone in the skies over the Benghazi consulate – while the attacks were ongoing.

According to the CBS story, a predator drone and other reconnaissance craft were in the area for the final hours of the violence.  This should have triggered a rapid response, alerted nearby assets, and allowed help to reach the embattled facility much sooner.  Sadly, none of that happened.

According to former CIA commander Gary Burnsten, we did absolutely nothing to hasten our reaction.

 “There isn’t a plan for every single engagement. Sometimes you have to be able to make adjustments.”  Burnsten said. “They made zero adjustments in this.”

Instead, according to the commander, “They stood, and they watched, and our people died.”

The news of assets circling the attack begs a few questions.  First of all, if the drone was not already watching the facility, as evidenced by the claim that it appeared for the “final hours” of the attack, who gave the order to send it there?  If, within hours, the Obama administration thought the situation was serious enough to put a Drone over it, how does that jibe with their week long claim that this was the result of a spontaneous demonstration?

Also, one has to wonder if the drone was armed.  If it was, why didn’t it fire to offer assistance?  More importantly, why was no immediate order give to activate U.S. Fighters and AC-130 Gunships that are stationed at no less than three nearby bases?

The White House told CBS News that CIA director Leon Panetta had his people look “at available options, and the ones we exercised had our military forces arrive in less than 24 hours, well ahead of timelines laid out in established policies.”

If this statement is true, doesn’t it strain credibility to suggest that the White House wasn't notified - immediately - of how serious the situation was?  If they were aware at this early stage, why didn’t they adjust their response, and why did it then take another three weeks for marines and FBI investigators to secure the remains of the Benghazi compound?

Clearly, the Drone footage would have shown that this was not some random act spurred by a YouTube video, as they claimed for at least another 7 days.

Slowly but surely, evidence is mounting that shows the Administration’s Benghazi response wasn’t just inadequate, or even a case of gross negligence, but a thought-out strategic decision made at the highest levels of the CIA, State Department, and most likely, the White House.

Whatever the goal of these choices was, they obviously went horribly wrong.