No matter who wins the Nov. 6 election, the families of those Americans slain by Islamic terrorists in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, deserve the truth as to what really happened on that fateful night.
They deserve to know why repeated requests for additional pre-attack security were denied and who denied them. They deserve to know, despite near real-time videos showing the on-going attack, why were the desperate appeals for help from the U.S. consulate and the CIA station denied?
They deserve to know if the Commander-in-Chief issued orders for the U.S. military to rescue the beleaguered Americans or not. If the Commander-in-Chief denied a military rescue effort, they deserve to be told why. If the Commander-in-Chief ordered a rescue and his orders were not carried out, then the Secretary of Defense and some generals and admirals should be brought up on charges. Either way, we are talking dereliction of duty.
The saving grace in all of this is that more than 300 officials in Washington, D.C. - watching the battle from CIA headquarters, from the Pentagon, from the State Department, and from the White House - saw exactly what was happening in Benghazi almost from the moment the attacks started and throughout the seven hours during which the Benghazi battle raged.
The White House has attempted to shift the blame for the disaster to the CIA and to the military. But CIA director David Petraeus says that no one at the CIA at any level or any time denied any requests for help. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta contends that he didn't have enough information to send U.S. forces into harm's way. But did the Africa Command commander, General Carter F. Ham, try to send rescue forces despite Secretary Panetta's order to "stand down?"
As the battle raged, General Ham was relieved of his command. The Pentagon claims it was a normal reassignment. But Ham was only half-way through the usual three-year tour in that post. Moreover, General Ham, at age 60, is four years and one month short of the mandatory retirement age for general officers. Rather than be reassigned, General Ham announced his retirement. Go figure.
In fact, because their honor has been called into question, both the military and the intelligence communities are going to insist that everyone who can be called before Congress and put under oath to tell the truth be summoned to Capitol Hill. Our military has a tradition of going into harm's way to rescue our fellow Americans. That's what they do. Moreover, our military abhor the thought of leaving dead or wounded on the field of battle.
There was no lack of military resources ready and able to get to Benghazi in time to turn the tide of the battle. A C-130 gunship guided by the laser target-designator at the CIA station could have laid down a cordon of devastating fire around the consulate grounds and around the CIA station. With little or no collateral damage, a C-130 gunship could have broken the back of the attack.
Folks, this has gotten ugly. An organization of retired Navy SEALs put this on Facebook.com: "Obama called on SEALs and they got bin Laden. The SEALs called on Obama and they got denied." Almost immediately, Facebook censored the posting; however, Facebook has since been forced by public pressure to put it back up. Developing story. Fasten seat belts.
Nationally syndicated columnist and retired military officer, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.