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Benghazi attack: Urgent call for military help ‘was denied by chain of command’

Fox News and others report that military help was available during the terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, but denied. CIA and Pentagon officials strongly deny the claim.

By Staff writer / October 27, 2012

A protester reacts as the US Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group on September 11, 2012

Esam Al-Fetori/REUTERS

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Citing “sources who were on the ground” in Benghazi, Libya, Fox News is reporting that an urgent request for military help during last month’s terrorist attack on the US consulate there “was denied by the CIA chain of command.”

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The attack, on the anniversary of 9/11, killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three embassy personnel, including two former Navy SEALs working as security contractors.

Among other things reported in some detail, Fox asserts that a Special Operations team had been moved to US military facilities in Sigonella, Italy – approximately two hours away – but were never told to deploy.

“The fighting at the CIA annex [in Benghazi] went on for more than four hours – enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.” 

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This latest report comes as the Obama administration continues to fend off criticism that it misunderstood (or deliberately misled in its public statements) what was happening in Benghazi, including the extent to which al Qaeda or its affiliates were involved in the attack.

Writing last week in the conservative National Review online, former Marine Corps officer and Reagan administration senior Pentagon official Francis “Bing” West outlined much the same scenario as Fox News, including a timeline of events in Benghazi.

“Fighter jets could have been at Benghazi in an hour; the commandos inside three hours,” Mr. West wrote. “If the attackers were a mob, as intelligence reported, then an F-18 [Navy fighter jet] in afterburner, roaring like a lion, would unnerve them. This procedure was applied often in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Conversely, if the attackers were terrorists, then the U.S. commandos would eliminate them. But no forces were dispatched from Sigonella.”

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