In reality, there was no real need to debunk the right’s “stand-down” Benghazi conspiracy theory again. The argument was thoroughly discredited a while ago, and though some congressional Republicans occasionally still throw it around, in all likelihood, even they probably don’t believe it.
But just in case someone – perhaps, say, a Fox News host, for example – might still be unsure about whether the theory has merit, let’s note the new evidence that confirms the old evidence.
The testimony of nine military officers undermines contentions by Republican lawmakers that a “stand-down order” held back military assets that could have saved the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans killed at a diplomatic outpost and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya.The “stand-down” theory centers on a Special Operations team of four – a detachment leader, a medic, a communications expert and a weapons operator with his foot in a cast – who were stopped from flying from Tripoli to Benghazi after the attacks of Sept. 11-12, 2012, had ended. Instead, they were instructed to help protect and care for those being evacuated from Benghazi and from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.The senior military officer who issued the instruction to “remain in place” and the detachment leader who received it said it was the right decision and has been widely mischaracterized. The order was to remain in Tripoli and protect some three dozen embassy personnel rather than fly to Benghazi some 600 miles away after all Americans there would have been evacuated. And the medic is credited with saving the life of an evacuee from the attacks.
In light of this unchallenged evidence, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement, “These transcripts definitively show that Republican attacks against our nation’s military servicemembers and former Secretary of State Clinton are completely unfounded and utterly offensive.”
At this point, it’s even less clear why House Republicans want to spend several million dollars – in taxpayer money – on an eighth Benghazi committee, going over questions we already know the answers to.
What’s more, a Democratic source on Capitol Hill put together a list of quotes from prominent congressional Republicans, all of whom would seem to owe the public some explanation.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.): “We need to have an answer of when the Secretary of Defense had assets that he could have begun spinning up. Why there was not one order given to turn on one Department of Defense asset? I have my suspicions, which is Secretary Clinton told Leon [Panetta] to stand down, and we all heard about the stand down order for two military personnel. That order is undeniable.”Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah): “Military personnel were ready willing and able, and within proximity, but the Pentagon told them they had no authority and to stand down.”Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.): “Even more troubling is the fact that they asked for permission to deploy four U.S. Special Operations troops to Benghazi the next morning, and they were told to stand down.”Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): “In essence, there are now witnesses saying that they were ready to go in and help at least prevent the second wave of attacks, but they were told to stand down.”
One wonders if any of them, or others who pushed the bogus line, will issue statements in response to the newly-released facts.