A variety of White House critics remain wedded to the idea that the military should have launched some kind of post-attack mission in Benghazi last September, and it remains key to the larger Republican conspiracy theory. Indeed, even Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) continued to push the argument yesterday.
It must have been disappointing, then, to see former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates defend the way in which the Obama administration and the military handled the response.
“Frankly, had I been in the job at the time, I think my decisions would have been just as theirs were,” said Gates, now the chancellor of the College of William and Mary. “We don’t have a ready force standing by in the Middle East, and so getting somebody there in a timely way would have been very difficult, if not impossible.” he explained. […]
Another suggestion posed by some critics of the administration, to, as Gates said, “send some small number of special forces or other troops in without knowing what the environment is, without knowing what the threat is, without having any intelligence in terms of what is actually going on on the ground, would have been very dangerous.”
“It’s sort of a cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces,” he said. “The one thing that our forces are noted for is planning and preparation before we send people in harm’s way, and there just wasn’t time to do that.”
Gates went on to defend Hillary Clinton and reject far-right allegations of the State Department orchestrating a cover-up.
And in the larger context, it seems interesting that Republicans pushing the Benghazi story keep running into other veterans of Republican administrations pushing in the opposite direction.
As Eric Boehlert alluded to earlier, the White House’s critics have embraced a line rejected by George W. Bush’s Defense Secretary (Gates), George W. Bush’s Joint Chiefs chairman (Adm. Mullen), Republicans’ favorite general (David Petraeus), and a respected diplomat from the Reagan and Bush administrations (Thomas Pickering).
We’re to believe they’re all part of the conspiracy?