While the Obama administration insists that there was not enough time to mount a rescue mission to save U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three other Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya, a 40-man special-operations rapid-deployment force was only four to six hours away during the Sept. 11 siege, according to Fox News.
Fox quoted an unidentified source, identified only as a “special operator who watched the events unfold and has debriefed those who are part of the response.”
“We had the ability to load out, get on birds, and fly there at a minimum stage,” said the source, whose voice was altered and whose face was not shown. “C-110 had the ability to be there, in my opinion, in four to six hours from their European theater to react.”
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In addition to that unit, which had been training in Croatia, about a 3½-hour flight from Benghazi, he said, that there were at least 15 special forces and highly skilled State Department security staff available in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
Those assets also were not dispatched, even though they, too, had been trained as a quick-response force.
The revelations came as Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., again called for a joint select committee to investigate handling of the attack. They said the committee was needed in light of new revelations about Benghazi, including reports that some whistle-blowers are afraid to testify.
Rep. Darrell Issa , R-Calif., complained that he had received no responses to four letters sent to the Obama administration calling for whistle-blowers' lawyers to get the security clearances needed to represent their clients.
Fox News described the unit training in Croatia as a special-operations force capable of rapid response and deployment. It had been specifically trained for incidents like the attack in Benghazi, Fox said.
The Fox source said he believes such a force could have made a difference if it had been dispatched to Benghazi shortly after the initial attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound at around 9:30 p.m. The siege ended some seven hours later at a CIA annex about a mile away.
“They would have been there before the second attack. They would have been there at a minimum to provide a quick-reaction force that could facilitate their exfill out of the problem situation,” the source said. “Nobody knew how it was going to develop. And you hear a whole bunch of people and a whole bunch of advisers say ‘Hey, we wouldn't have sent them there because, you know, the security was unknown situation.’”
He believes there are also potential career repercussions for anyone who comes forward with information that might contradict the official account of events from the Obama administration.
“It's upsetting, especially being in the community,” the source added. “The hardest thing to deal with in any kind of, you know, dangerous scenario or gun fight, is, you know, we always look to each other to help each other, and that's how we get through situations. It's not about the assets overhead. It's about the guys on the ground.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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