RUSH: Now to the phones since it’s Open Line Friday. Doug in San Antonio. Great to have you on the program, sir. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Rush. Thanks. I wanted to speak to the question of when the president knew and why Secretary Panetta refused to support the CIA annex request either to move to the consulate or to reinforce. Within a few minutes of the consulate being under attack — I’m a retired lieutenant colonel special operations planner for 15 years — the personal security detail for the ambassador notified the communications room in Tripoli who then, on the top secret side, sent a message to the White House Situation Room that the ambassador was in peril, okay? And they did that by code word and it would have been within minutes of the attack commencing.
The White House Situation Room has a list of what’s called Essential Elements of Friendly Information. That’s the military’s acronym for it, but they would have a similar thing, a critical information list. Certain things go right to the person that’s standing next to the president, both military and civilian leadership. So he would have known within minutes or it’s supposed to be informed within minutes because an ambassador is a four-star equivalent, very high, very important person, you know, represents the president and essentially is the president’s — you know, is the surrogate of the president in that country. So the White House cannot deny that the president knew immediately.
RUSH: They are. They are.
CALLER: Well, it’s a bald-faced lie, you know. I’m giving you some inside baseball information —
RUSH: Look, I believe you. You’re talking about watch desks. That tells me you know what you’re talking about.
CALLER: Well, it’s even a little more frustrating than that. So when that message, that code word goes out, flash traffic, that an ambassador is in peril, okay, the —
RUSH: We have heard this. In our parlance, the way we heard this, Doug, was essentially the panic button was hit. That’s how this was explained to me the first time. Somebody who knew what they were talking about referenced this as a panic button essentially was hit, and that once that happens, everybody that receives it knows what’s going on. There’s no doubt about it. So that’s pretty much true, right?
CALLER: Right. But it’s even more detailed than that, Rush. What it means is when a code word goes out, there’s standard operating procedures. The geographic combatant commander that’s responsible for Libya would have been part of that message traffic, and his CINC’s In-Extremis Force, which is, you know, a Special Forces unit —
RUSH: Okay, let me stop you there for another question, because what a lot of people have been told, the excuse that has been offered, in fact, from Condoleezza Rice on Greta Van Susteren a couple nights ago, the impression is, “Well, there’s so much traffic coming in, there’s so many e-mails, so many cables, so many memos, it would take somebody hours to sift through it.” What you’re telling me is that there are systems designed to penetrate all that in a real emergency?
CALLER: Well, there’s three networks, Rush. The e-mails that have been released are unclassified e-mails. On the top secret side, a flash traffic message from the embassy Tripoli to the White House Situation Room, it’s like an IM. I mean, it’s immediately responded to. You have to acknowledge receipt of it. Okay? So it’s immediate. It gets to the person, the watch officer sitting there, boom, flashes on his screen, he has to acknowledge receipt. And then there’s a protocol for who he then sends it to. He physically turns to someone, the senior guy on watch, “This is a critical element of information. POTUS needs to hear this,” and that’s what would have happened.
So no one in the White House can deny that — well, they can deny it, but the fact is the protocol says someone marched their happy little ass up to the senior guy standing next to POTUS and said, “Sir, ambassador in Libya is in peril.” And if he was missing, that is even a higher precedence. And then the chain would have also gone out automatically to the geographic combatant commander, AFRICOM, and he would have then turned to his special operations commander and said, “I want the In-Extremis Force, you know, strip ready in five minutes.” And evidently they were strip ready in Sigonella and they would have the assets to penetrate the airspace, you know, an MC-130 papa, which is a C-130 specially equipped with electronic countermeasures. They didn’t need permission to enter Libyan airspace, okay?
I’m giving you a lot of Inside Baseball stuff, and maybe putting myself in a little peril by doing it, but the In-Extremis Force, they would have been chomping at the bit to do this. It was turned down, POTUS, at his five p.m. Eastern time meeting with the principals, that’s when he put the kibosh on everything. It was a conscious act. It has to be because, you know, the In-Extremis Force is required to be prepared to do In-Extremis non-combatant evacuation operations for its geographic responsibility, the entire continent of Africa. So there’s always somebody ready to go, and the aircraft are always prepared to go.
It’s maddening to say that there was not intelligence. An intelligence guy is not a decision-maker. He’s just some analyst dude that tells the decision-makers this is what we know. Well, the decision-makers who are so risk-averse now need perfect intelligence. They would have had to have, you know, in the calculus of this, to know that, whatever the attacking force was, if I put 15 or 50 or a hundred operators on the ground, you know, they’ll have success. No one knows that. In soft planning, you plan to fail half the time.
RUSH: What about the story we’ve been told that not only was there so much traffic coming in that it was impossible to find the right stuff, which you’ve now explained, but they’re also telling us that the president wasn’t told for a while, and even now, as recently as today, they’re saying that the three most recent e-mails — it sounds like we’re talking about — flash traffic’s not e-mails, right?
CALLER: Flash traffic is digital from station to station.
RUSH: Right. So they’re misleading us left and right. They’re trying to say, “Well, the president –” They will not explain. They will not tell us what happened to the three e-mails and why he didn’t get them or why he wasn’t told or when he knew or what. They’re basically portraying the president as removed from all this.
CALLER: Well, the bottom line is a flash traffic saying that the ambassador is in peril, or, worse, missing, you know, the protocol is for someone to physically contact with a person in the chain that’s supposed to determine what happens next. Now, I wasn’t in the Oval Office so I can’t —
RUSH: Let me ask you, the question came up yesterday that I couldn’t answer, and I need to ask you, just from what you’re saying. This is unreal, but let’s assume they can’t find POTUS, let’s assume he’s just not engaged. Who has trigger authority on a response to something like that? I mean, you say we don’t need permission to send a C-130 in there to disrupt. Who orders it in there, in a situation like this? Who has the authority to order the C-130s wherever they are, Italy, wherever they are, to take action? If you can’t find the president — is the president the only guy that can give that order?
CALLER: No, sir. Okay? Basically in the absence of permissions, okay, you have standing orders. And one of the standing orders to geographic combatant commander is to observe life of American citizens —
RUSH: Exactly. Precisely.
CALLER: And he’s a four-star, you know, he’s in Germany. AFRICOM headquarters is in Germany, and their op-center would have been monitoring this in real time, ’cause it’s part of their geographic responsibility. And they would have been going through the different permutations of courses of action of who can get there the quickest. Now, in their geographic area they have Combined Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa, which is in Djibouti. I served there when it was the Joint Special Operations Task Force Crisis Response Element, and we have responsibility for all of CENTCOM and AFRICOM in Africa because at the time there was no AFRICOM. And we had the capacity to get from where we were in Djibouti to Benghazi in about three hours, four hours, depending on what we wanted to take. Now, if we wanted to go in there with a lot of operators, and at the time we had about a hundred operators, it would have taken us probably five hours.
RUSH: Okay, Doug, you’re sitting out here, you obviously are intimately familiar with all this. So what’s going through your mind, A, in real time when you hear about this, and then in subsequent days when you hear the excuses or explanations that have been offered for why no action was taken? I mean, I may be putting you on spot and you can’t share that with us, but I gotta ask you.
CALLER: It stems from Desert One, Rush, it stems from the failure of Desert One during the Iranian hostage rescue. And what commander wants to repeat that, you know. Now, at the lieutenant colonel level, at the colonel level of the In-Extremis Force of all these different headquarters, State Department, everybody was saying, “Let’s go! Let’s get boots on the ground and kick these people’s asses and get our people.” But who makes those decisions? It’s POTUS, V POTUS, State, and Def. And they had a five o’clock Eastern time meeting, and they said no. You know, we’re willing to have the consulate overruled and the embassy overrun — (phone connection goes bad)
RUSH: The fact that they’re afraid of replicating Carter’s boondoggle, that’s not gonna fly with a lot of people.
CALLER: Well, sir, I hate to break it to you, but the people that are-four-stars right now, okay, were young officers, and they saw what happened to the leadership, okay? I’m not saying on the Special Ops side. You know, Special Ops guys —
RUSH: But I mean there are alternate explanations. There are political campaign explanations that people have conjured up to explain why Obama would not want any military activity taking place there in order to make sure that an image is created for his campaign: We’re defeating Al-Qaeda. They’re on the run. We got bin Laden.
CALLER: All those memes, you know, are probably in play, but mostly it’s just incompetence and not understanding the principal of you don’t leave anybody behind, okay?
RUSH: Doug, look, I know you’ve stuck your neck out here and you obviously know your stuff intimately well and I really appreciate your call. It’s fabulous to get your input and knowledge on this. Somewhere, somebody refused to make a gutsy call.
RUSH: Doug in San Antonio, Texas, kind of blows Leon Panetta out of the water, and Leon Panetta, we had a sound bite earlier, he said, “Well, we didn’t have enough intel. We didn’t know enough going on.” My guess is that we knew everything, we knew it all. That’s what he was basically telling us. We probably had those C-130s — and we talked about these yesterday, these C-130 Hercules equipped to go in and disperse crowds, buzz low, disperse crowds. They’re an hour away in Italy. It’s a seven-hour operation. They probably are able to get the video feed in the cockpit knowing what’s going on.
We are United States of America. We are the world’s lone remaining military superpower. All of these things that we’re being told we’re not capable of doing, we didn’t have the right intel, none of that is true. We’re the United States of America. We have capability beyond that which anybody can conceive, a civilian, anyway. It’s why it’s kept secret. And the story that has been used to explain this is — they’ve willingly said that they’re incompetent. They’ve not used the word. They’ve willingly said that we’re inept. “Well, there were so many e-mails coming in.” We find out that there’s a special code, flash traffic, it’s got top secret code words, you get one of those, it flies to the top, response is required. It has to be walked up to the next person in command. Of course there are procedures like this in place.
It isn’t like you sitting at your computer being inundated with e-mails at five in the afternoon or IMs and not knowing what to do. There are systems here, and they worked. They were in place. This was somebody who refused to make a gutsy call. This is why the families are upset. They find out what’s going on, because they know the role of the president is to defend and protect the people who are in harm’s way in this country, and that did not happen here. You heard him say that there’s a lingering fear that’s resulted in a defensive posture over the failed Carter effort in the deserts of Iran in 1979 to get the hostages out then, even though there have been many successful missions since. But if you doubt that, as some of you might have been hearing him, “Wait a minute, there really –” Remember, now, there are two kinds of generals.
There are warrior generals and there are politically correct corporate climb-the-ladder generals and admirals and what have you. And if you find this hard to believe, “Well, I do, Rush, because it’s the military.” The military is politicized just like anything. Remember the GOP. What is the primary reason the Republican Party is afraid of a conservative presidential nominee? Barry Goldwater’s landslide defeat. It’s what informs them to this day. They can’t get over that. They don’t see the Reagan landslides of ’80 and ’84. They see Goldwater ’64. There are plenty of establishment types that do. So what Doug was telling us here is you got enough people in the chain of command who still have lingering fears over the debacle of Jimmy Carter’s rescue attempt in 1979. That sounds hard to believe, but believe me, this guy knew what he was talking about. There can be no doubt about that.
RUSH: Somewhere in North Carolina. This is John. Thank you for waiting, sir. Great to have you with us, sir.
CALLER: Hi, Rush. How you doing?
RUSH: Very well. Thank you.
CALLER: It’s an honor to speak with you. I can’t tell how long I’ve been listening. I just wanted to call and tell you that I don’t understand how anybody in the military could support this administration. I currently just got back from Afghanistan, and if I’d-a known what I know now before I left I’d be nervous out of my wits, to know that if I go out on a convoy and I get stranded, that nobody’s coming for me. It’s just unreal.
RUSH: That’s how you take this, huh?
CALLER: That’s exactly how I take it. I don’t see how anybody else could —
RUSH: Let’s put ourselves in the place of these two Navy SEALs. They’re at the CIA annex. They see what’s going on at the embassy, the consulate. They see that there’s no retaliation, nobody’s doing anything about it. They know that everybody in Washington knows, and they ask for permission, they ask for some sort of response, and they ask for permission to go help, and they’re denied three times.
RUSH: And they went anyway. Now, my contention — you tell me. You sound like you’re uniformed military, right?
CALLER: Roger that.
RUSH: I think these guys, these two SEALs, they had to know they were going in with no support and no cover. They had to think their odds were not good.
CALLER: Right. And the worst part is if they’d-a made it out alive, they’d have been probably court-martialed for violating a direct order.
RUSH: Yeah, even if they survived, they’re looking at charges of disobeying orders. But my point is that they went in there knowing their odds were long.
CALLER: Oh, right, yeah.
RUSH: Every military person’s worst nightmare in the military is being left behind.
CALLER: Oh, it’s a pattern of disrespect toward the military from this administration. I mean, we were threatened, what, a year or two ago that we weren’t gonna get paid because they couldn’t pass a budget. We’ve had the lowest raise in a couple decades that we’ve ever seen and now it’s every man for himself. I mean, it’s just unreal.
RUSH: Well, I think a lot of people understand that now. I appreciate your call. Thanks very much. Let me try to illustrate this with a picture. Do you all remember the picture of Obama and everybody in the Situation Room while the operation to kill bin Laden was going on? Remember the picture that they put out, you had Obama in there in his golf shirt with his official “I’m president” jacket and you had the military people, and I think Hillary was in there. Well, that was The Situation Room. And in this Benghazi consulate situation, something very much like that would have been going on during this attack. This is a seven hour attack on American property. It’s 9/11.
Something like that — when I say “would” have been going on, under normal circumstances. The odds are that meeting wasn’t convened. My point is, that did not take place. Now, Panetta says — we played the audio sound bite earlier — (paraphrasing) “Well, we didn’t have enough intel to really feel confident in committing forces.” You had two Navy SEALs on the ground. You had two Navy SEALs on site. They left the CIA annex. They were in defiance of orders. I mean, they’d been told to stand down. They had been told after three requests not to go, and they went anyway. Charles Woods is one of their fathers, and it’s he who has been on the radio recently explaining how all this affected him and his wife. The intel clearly could have been provided by these two guys. Maybe Panetta didn’t know they were there. Maybe they didn’t tell anybody they were going since they were in violation of orders, whatever. It’s just unbelievable, unacceptable at the same time.