Military chief disputes "stand down" claim on Benghazi
June 12th, 2013
06:19 PM ET

Military chief disputes "stand down" claim on Benghazi

By Larry Shaughnessy

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told members of Congress on Wednesday that Army special forces in Tripoli were never told to "stand down" from rushing to Benghazi to help when the diplomatic mission there came under attack last year.

In doing so, he disputed the claims of Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission in Libya who testified last month before a House committee that a unit of four special forces troops was told to stand down rather than rush to Benghazi.

The September 11 attack killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Members of Congress, especially House Republicans, have aggressively sought answers from the military and the Obama administration about the response to the terror assault and why armed forces were not dispatched quickly to help.

Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified earlier this year that "unfortunately, there was no specific intelligence or indications of an imminent attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi. And frankly, without an adequate warning, there was not enough time given the speed of the attack for armed military assets to respond."

Under questioning from Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican, Dempsey said the special forces contingent was not told to stand down but rather given a different mission.

"By the time they contacted the command center in Stuttgart (Germany), they were told the individuals in Benghazi were on their way back and that they would be better used at the Tripoli airport."

Dempsey said had the four troops flown to Benghazi at that time, the victims would have been on a plane flying to Tripoli.

"If they had gone, they would have simply passed each other in the air," he said.

Earlier, Dempsey was asked about whistleblower reports that commanders of the Libyan unit were not at their base in Stuttgart or even in Europe.

He responded to Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, that the commanders were in Europe, but they were on a training mission. That meant the response time was much longer than it might have been had they been in Germany, and a lot longer than the three to four hours that the whistleblower suggested.

"No, I would not agree to that time line," Dempsey said. "The travel time alone would have been more than that, and that's if they were sitting on the tarmac."

Dempsey was testifying at a hearing on the military budget.

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Filed under: Benghazi • Dempsey • Libya
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. ?

    there will always be terrorism from the mideast as long as they believe their jihad is righteous, the war is in a terrible state, for one the us military has been engaged in a ground war that will last 15 years before it is all said and done, disrupting the taliban in afghanistan is pointless as long as they have safe zones in pakistan where they can plan, train and execute operations from, and also i wonder how often our soldiers get ambushed vs getting to ambush, what exactly does disrupting enemy operations really mean, i read where us soldiers have to watch the taliban move about with their weapons tucked under their horses, the war is not beeing fought properly, we have the best soldiers on the planet but even crap can win when you fight with a blindfold over your eyes, the us military should never ever be engaged in a ground war that lasts for 15 years, when that happens something went wrong, then we have the nerve to destabalize every government and make more people hate us, at this point we need to bring the military home, increase the number of spec ops soldiers by threefold as they are the only ones needed at this point, protect the homeland, realize most muslim people are good and above all else seek peace....bin laden said that their jihad will continue as long as US involves itself in their lands, his demands are actually the key to victory, get off oil and the top spenders in the world can rid themselves of their troubles in the mideast, we need to make oil a thing of the past, reach out to space and grab propelants from other planets

    June 16, 2013 at 11:51 pm | Reply
    • ?

      the cheney administration really left us up the creek if you know what i mean, shinseki was retired by rumsfeld for going against his (mr politicians) war plan, the top general in the military told rumsfeld iraq would be a thirty day war followed by a bloody civil war that would make peace impossible, thankfully we have one of america's best presidents ever in office, one who understands how to get things done and win the peace,

      June 17, 2013 at 12:03 am | Reply
      • ?

        i tell you what though, you blow a few of those taliban soldiers away while they walk over the border with their weapons hidden that bs will stop real quick, they will start to travel locked and loaded

        June 17, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
  2. Suzyqpie

    Next should be Pigford investigation.

    June 16, 2013 at 7:29 am | Reply
  3. HelloUSA

    Wake UP...The date was S E P T E M B E R 11th!!! Right...right...right???

    In my opinion, if the military of the United State of America was not poised, ready for ANYTHING on the anniversary of the MOST horrific terrorist attack in the history of the WORLD..... well then we have another scandal…don't we! Terrorist target anniversaries!!

    We should have been ready on September 11, 2012 to save those men and we weren't. We did NOTHING ...get it nothing… and the president flew to Vegas the next day. If that isn't wrong I don't what is. If it was your son that died and the Commander and Chief acted like nothing happened how would you feel????????? What did he say to himself..."Oh well...let's just move on and campaign…where is my speech"…?

    Planes passing in the air... really! Tripoli is not more than 45 minutes away from Benghazi. The US troops, through out the the world, should have been ready for an attack, not on a training mission!!! In my opinion this is a cover up and Rice was sent out to get in front of the scandal and blanket the media with a smoke screen.

    The operative word in Rice's message was S P O N T A N E O U S! In my opinion there was actually nothing spontaneous about this attack and there was TIME to react. The smoke screen had to have the word spontaneous! A story had to be fabricated to make it look like it was a spontaneous attack, because not to TRY to save lives, when there was TIME, is a dereliction of duty. Our Commander in Chief did nothing!

    We have been asking President Obama for more than 8 months now, where he was and what did he do on the night of the attack. We still don't have any answers directly from him. I wonder why. We were told this was irrelevant. Mmmmm in my opinion this is wrong. What do your instincts tell you?

    June 16, 2013 at 6:32 am | Reply
    • NAM VET

      WHERE WERE YOU 9 MONTHS AGO WHEN THE NEWS REPORTED OUR GOV. AND OTHER MILITARY FOLKS SAID
      ALL WERE TOLD TO STAND DOWN. ARE ALL OUR GENERALS AND AGENCIES OWNED BY THIS ADMINISTRATION.
      GOD HELP US WHEN WE HAVE NO REAL AMERICANS AT THE HELM TO DO THE RIGHT THING AND SPEAK OUT
      FOR DOING THE RIGHT THING FOR THE AMERICA I SERVED SO LONG AGO. WE HAVE GUTS ON THE GROUND ALL OVER THIS WORLD, WHAT HAPPENED -SEEMS THE ONLY ONES WITH BALLS ARE ON THE GROUND AND ALL THE LEADERS ARE SAYING YES SIR TO AN IDIOT SAUVANT.

      June 16, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Reply
  4. Floyd from Illinois

    Benghazi is proving out to be a witch hunt and is losing steam, the IRS *scandal* is not only dead but proving Issa to be a grandstanding liar, and even Cons are backing away from their 'NSA illegal surveillance' troll.

    What's next? We ALL know that the Cons will come up with something else to be faux-outraged over. It's all they've got.

    June 14, 2013 at 9:46 pm | Reply
    • Mike in Wa

      Reminds me of democrats when Bush was in office. Why aren't you all still out protesting unmanned drone strikes like you did when Bush was in office? These secret courts that Obama is using for these wire taps are the same ones that Bush used.

      June 18, 2013 at 5:12 am | Reply
  5. California

    It's so blantantly obvious there was/is a coverup. Any idiot can see it.

    Is it stil lthe video's fault?

    June 14, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Reply
    • Ken Margo

      Sorry mr republican. No coverup. I bet you couldn't name the three other men that died besides Amb. Stevens. Because you really don't care. Did you know during the Bush prez. Their were about 10 or 11 attacks on our consulates and embassies that resulted in several deaths? No you you didn't know because you didn't care. If you "care" so much about these deaths, what about those that died in Iraq? Almost 5,000 gave their life for a war that the "WHITE GUY" started that never should have happened. Stop fooling yourself, stop watching fox news and pull your head out your AZZ.

      June 14, 2013 at 8:06 pm | Reply
      • Nick

        So true! It is a shame that people only focus on the flashy news. And those who watch fox for "news" are fooling themselves. It is NOT a news organization, they openly admit that. The republicans are openly trying to make this administration fail, its their goal. And it is tearing this country apart.

        June 16, 2013 at 3:37 am |
    • Maurine Wheatley

      you are so so right in all ways that are good.

      June 15, 2013 at 10:21 pm | Reply
  6. Richard Right

    Weren't told to stand down but told to receive survivors in Tripoli. It's the same thing. Embassy personnel could have received survivors at Tripoli and they likely would have had help from Libyan govt. Remember the 'President' of Libya was not anti-American, he in fact told U.S. the attackers were terrorists. No the decision to have Special Forces receive survivors was meant as a plausible excuse for not sending troops to Benghazi, somebody said, 'Let's not make this any worse" and the ambassador and others were given up to get re-elected

    June 14, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Reply
    • Robert Wrong

      IDIOT – he said THEY WOULD HAVE PASSED EACH OTHER IN THE AIR. Such morons like you – just completely ignore the facts, and make up your own conspiracy theories. Doesn't make it true.

      June 14, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Reply
      • HelloUSA

        Wake UP...The date was S E P T E M B E R 11th!!! Right...right...right!!
        In my opinion, if the military of the United State of America was not poised, ready for ANYTHING on the anniversary of the MOST horrific terrorist attack in the history of the WORLD..... well then we have another scandal don't we! Terrorist target anniversaries!! We should have been ready on September 11, 2012 to save those men and we weren't. We did NOTHING ...get it nothing and the president flew to Vegas the next day. If that isn't wrong I don't what is. If it was your son that died and the Commander and Chief acted like nothing happened how would you feel????????? What did he say to himself..."Oh well...let's just move on and campaign"...? Planes passing in the air... really. Tripoli is not more than 45 minutes away from Benghazi. The troops should have been ready for an attack, not on a training mission!!! In my opinion this is a cover up and Rice was sent out to get in front of the scandal and blanket the media with a smoke screen.

        June 16, 2013 at 5:47 am |
    • Ken Margo

      @Mr. Thinks he's right..........Your guy lost. Please get over it. Why don't you go back to the birther nonsense. That worked out well for ya!

      June 14, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Reply
      • HelloUSA

        Really ... you think this is about who won the election?? In my opinion this is about the wrongful deaths of 4 Americans. Can you name ONE instance in the past where the United States of America has turned it's back on it's own people?

        June 21, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
  7. Pete

    Go ahead CNN keep deleting me because I've got your number about your trolling ..Just do your moderating and stay off these sites!!

    June 14, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Reply
  8. BrianMemphis

    The left has lost their mind. Reading the comments they will completely unconsolable next year when the Senate slips from their fingers. They would rather believe in a man and defend the undefendable than actually admit he and his staff might have screwed up. Lost souls one and all.

    June 14, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Reply
    • mike

      Weapons of mass destruction ring a bell? if you care so much about americans dying pointlessly, please fight this hard to arrest those that brought american to war and hundreds of thousands to death over a falsehood.

      June 15, 2013 at 10:45 am | Reply
  9. Richard Long

    For the last time! It was not an attack. The incident was just protestors that were upset about the YouTube film! Until you Republitards and Teabillies get it through your thick heads, you will lose!
    Biden 2016!

    June 14, 2013 at 8:54 am | Reply
    • Richard Right

      This is sarcasm, right. You're not really this stupid, are you?

      June 14, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Reply
  10. orrball

    maybe the question should of been were you ask to go in to help

    June 14, 2013 at 1:48 am | Reply
  11. Dan5404

    Having been in the Marines and being action-oriented doesn't mean you know more than Dempsey. You were not in charge, and just because everything doesn't work out to serve the Gung-Ho training tradition,that's life. We lose battles in every war. Sometimes we accidentally kill our own troops. In WWII, we killed more than 300 of our own troops in a big battle with Germans due to B-17 navigational errors. Sometimes things just don't work out like John Wayne movies. If we had the ability to see the future, we'd never lose. Hindsight is a great commander, especially if you're working from foregone conclusions created by unproven charges from partisan politicians.

    June 13, 2013 at 9:22 pm | Reply
  12. Ph

    The truth will come out eventually. Its like pulling teeth! More than likely after the next campaign. Just have to keep on being a mushroom

    June 13, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Reply
    • Ph

      Got cut off in mid typing and it just posted, outa here.

      June 13, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  13. Portland tony

    90% of the critics haven't got the faintest idea of where Benghazi is.....the logistics involved in getting there and the fact in was never a US consulate, but a CIA outpost......that the State Dept. had no operational or administrative control over! Get over it! It was a tragic event...so was a blown up marine barracks!

    June 13, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Reply
    • Juan

      "It was a tragic event". Once we all find out the specifics of the "event" we may be able to determine why these Americans were left for dead with no response whatsoever. Was a call made to just let these people die? If yes, when was that call made? Fighting went on for 8 hours, but in those 8 hours there was no response? Therefore, the only conclusion we can make about the people who should have sent troops to help these Americans is they decided no matter how long this battle would last these Americans were going to die. The problem for the people who NEVER MADE ANY TYPE OF RESCUE CALL FOR THESE AMERICANS IS THE FACT THAT THEY NEVER MADE THE CALL TO GO!!! Not the first hour, or the 2nd or the 3rd, not even after 7 hours?

      June 14, 2013 at 9:29 am | Reply
      • Portland tony

        We have allies and sympathizers among many of the Libyan freedom fighters. Ambassador Stevens had many friends in the Benghazi area. If brute force could have saved American lives.....they would be alive today. There are many Libyan tribes that are on our side.....unfortunately they don't reside in Benghazi.

        June 14, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
      • Ken Margo

        @Juan...................Benghazi is not Disney world! It's called a hot spot for a reason. The men their knew that when they took the job. This isn't the first time someone has died in war and it wont be the last!

        June 14, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
  14. Deserttrek

    just as the military in the ussr was a political organ, the US military is now a political arm of barry boy obummer. they can no longer be trusted.

    June 13, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Reply
  15. Gary in Maine

    Why do you and your fellow Texans sucede already. Jut go... Please just go....go away.

    June 13, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  16. Gary in Maine

    This entire issue is a GOp/Tea Nut witch hunt. A movie trailer for the upcomming 2016 presidential elections. Providing themselves more garbage to throw tomorrow, waisting time today so no real work can happen. This entire stunt is to tarnish the reputation of Mr. Obama and Mrs Clinton....nothing more.

    June 13, 2013 at 11:56 am | Reply
    • Deserttrek

      another left wing smrear artist who believes the murderous traitors barry the boy obama and shrillary.

      June 13, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Reply
    • Juan

      The dems are the ones who needed the "movie"...
      Answer this. These Americans were left for dead. Why didn't the US send anyone in to help these people?

      June 14, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Reply
      • Robert Wrong

        I guess you're just too stupid to understand – over and over and over and over – its been explained. They weren't left for dead. They were dead long before anyone could have been flown in to help.

        June 14, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
  17. bob

    End of story, but the Reich Wing will just ignore the truth and keep howling their lies, because the people who listen to them are too stupid to care about the truth.

    June 13, 2013 at 11:07 am | Reply
    • Juan

      "End of story"? Only for the people who died. True Americans know differently.

      June 14, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Reply
  18. StanCalif

    Why is it that no one wants to blame Amb. Stevens for remaining in Benghazi when he felt threatened? Stevens should have returned to Tripoli instead of remaining in Benghazi. He did not! Why is this poor lack of judgement now someone else's fault? Stevens screwed up! Plain and simple!

    June 13, 2013 at 7:03 am | Reply
    • StanCalif

      It has never been made public why Amb. Stevens was in Benghazi. Some covert operation being planned? Why did he not leave and return to Tripoli if he felt so threatened? Stevens was involved in something much bigger! He made a big mistake, now everyone wants to blame his poor judgement on someone else! Typical!

      June 13, 2013 at 8:21 am | Reply
      • Terry

        All you people that think that Benghazi was a major mess up by all Departments including Obama who needed his milk and cookie's before he went to bed while people died keep drinking that wonderful kool aid the government is giving you. No man left behind is the code we live by !!!!!!!

        June 13, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
      • Portland tony

        At the time of the attack, Ambassador Stevens was reportedly enroute to a meeting with an old acquaintance in Benghazi he had befriended during the revolution. This meeting was probably both social and political in nature?

        June 13, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
    • Pete

      @StanCalif,Am.Stevens had been called twice by Gen.Curtis Ham and asked if they wanted additional security at Benghazi because of Kadafis overthrow and the anniversary of 9/11 coming up and Stevens said NO!!!CIA,others said to Stevens its wise to vacate the Benghazi consolate and come back to the more fortified embassy at Tripoli over 400 miles away and again Stevens said NO!!Don't blame SOS Hillary Clinton and Pres.Obama because of Stevens apparent complacency,incompetence that led to his and his collegues deaths..He knew the region living there for years and knew the dangers of the unstable region as well as the people there..He as a government employee should of obeyed the calls and returned to Tripoli and this Benghazi incident would of never happened!!Case closed Issa!!

      June 14, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Reply
  19. SWEJ

    This is what happens when the CIA is involved instead of the Marines.

    June 13, 2013 at 2:37 am | Reply
  20. SWEJ

    Dempsey is just a lap dog.

    June 13, 2013 at 2:35 am | Reply
  21. orrball

    Dempsey I am glad this man has our back he sits and waits for some one give him orders to save them. what a leader!

    June 13, 2013 at 1:37 am | Reply
  22. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    WE are GOVERNMENT
    TRUST US

    WE would NEVER EVER sick The IRS on our political enemies
    TRUST US

    We would NEVER EVER run guns to Mexico
    TRUST US

    WE would NEVER EVER spy on your cell calls & emails
    TRUST US

    WE would NEVER EVER lie to a judge to get a warrant on a reporter
    TRUST US

    NOW...
    Let's ALL sing Hymn # 3
    What a friend WE have in the IRS

    June 12, 2013 at 9:51 pm | Reply
    • Pete

      @Free man from Texas,haven't your state suceded already!!You and Perry get lost!!

      June 14, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Reply
    • jboh

      More pathetic TEA trash talk. Get info from someplace other than pill-popper Rush, Brietbarf, and cluster fox. You might actually learn some facts. By the way, pay for your Texas created mess in West Texas fertilizer plant explosion. Intelligent govts forbid building plants using explosive chemicals near schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. Enjoy your unregulated business environment. Just be sure to stock plenty of burn ointment, and ear plugs.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  23. USMC1371

    Given a different mission? ???? More important then trying to save 4 American lives????
    Someone needs to answer for this.....

    June 12, 2013 at 8:36 pm | Reply
    • bob

      Right after your mother answers for raising a piece of trash like you.

      June 13, 2013 at 11:08 am | Reply
      • MarineRaider

        Uncalled for Bob......Clearly by this man's screen name he is either in or has been in the USMC like myself. We put ourselves on the front line so feeble minded worms like yourself can enjoy what little freedoms you have left under this administration. IF you can find no respect for our honorable men and women of service then may I suggest you keep your trap shut.

        June 13, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
      • Juan

        Bob, people like you who work for our governmnet – you know oppressive, harsh people who follow blindly, are the problem.
        BTW, I work for the government and I am here to help people like you. My SS team will be there shortly. No need to provide an address, we know where you live.

        June 14, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • JerzeyGeorge

      I do not believe the Ambassador could have been saved. And again maybe not Smith either. But the loss of the Doherty and Woods is inexcusable.

      June 13, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Reply
      • Juan

        Apparently, you have the same opinion as Obama. The difference is, Obama had this opinion when these Americans were still alive.

        June 14, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • jboh

      How about the TEA/GOP that cut funding for security?

      June 15, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Reply
  24. Norma Vessels

    Marlene .. they did save a lot of the people that were in that compound. They did what they could under very bad conditions. No one is talking about the lives that WERE saved. Why is that?

    June 12, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Reply
  25. Marlene Crumley

    I, for one, don't believe a word "General" Dempsey says.
    Any attempt to save four Americans in harm's way would be better than no attempt at all. Coward!

    June 12, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Reply
    • Chris

      But they were already dead. Don't you get that?

      June 12, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Reply
      • Juan

        The battle lasted 8 hours.

        June 14, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • bob

      Your opinion has as much value as a f@rt in a whirlwind.

      June 13, 2013 at 11:07 am | Reply
      • JerzeyGeorge

        And having read your opinions the conclusion that your an idiot is a quick and easy one.

        June 13, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
      • jboh

        Quit talking about yourself and TEA buddies.

        June 15, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
      • jboh

        Issa should be impeached for abuse of power.

        June 15, 2013 at 2:52 pm |

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