- Libyan reinforcements arrived during the early fighting;
- The first fight lasted about two hours, too brief for the nearest American forces to get there;
- American reinforcements arrived from Tripoli around 1 am and were at the consulate annex when it suffered a mortar attack between 2 and 4;
- The American reinforcements enabled the remaining American diplomatic personnel to leave Benghazi safely.
The Pentagon Tries to Deal in Military Realities
At a multi-topic news briefing on October 25, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta responded to questions that included Benghazi. One questioner asked "why there was no military support earlier on the attack," which suggests the questioner was ignorant of the length of the attack and the amount of military support that did respond during and after the two hour attack on the consulate.
As it became clear that the questioner assumed there was time for a Delta Force or fighter planes based outside of Libya to get to Benghazi in time to make a difference, Sec. Panetta described the forces available in the region, and then explained:
But -- but the basic principle here -- basic principle is that you don't deploy forces into harm's way without knowing what's going on; without having some real-time information about what's taking place. And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, General Ham, General Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation". This -- this happened within a few hours and it was really over before, you know, we had the opportunity to really know what was happening.
In his CBS appearance October 28, Sen. McCain indirectly supported the Pentagon explanation when he said, "obviously there was no military either capability or orders to intervene in a seven-hour fight." [emphasis added] Even though McCain says the fight was much longer than it actually was, he concludes there was no capability for any more military support than was provided. And he implies that there were no orders because such orders would have been pointless.
Fox's Unconscionable Claim from Anonymous Source
On October 26, Fox News cited anonymous sources to support a claim "that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command"." According to Fox, the request was made after midnight from the CIA annex in Benghazi and asked for a Spectre gunship that was based 480 miles away in Italy. To make the story seem credible, Fox stated falsely that "fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours"."
On October 28, Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume complained that mainstream media were more or less ignoring the Benghazi story: "One of the problems we're having here is, that it has fallen to this news organization, Fox News and a couple others, to do all the heavy lifting on this story."
He didn't say what wasn't covered, but slipped into the Watergate meme of implied wrongdoing: "Normally, the big news organizations would have this thing out there. And we would know a lot more than we do about -- about what the president did, what he knew, when he knew it, and what when he made what order he made and on what basis."
If, as so many Republicans have claimed, the administration's handling is a cover-up more significant than Watergate, then what is being covered up? Based on the available evidence, it's more credible to believe that if there's any cover-up at all,