News / USA

Panetta Defends Pentagon Response to Benghazi Attack

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, testify on Capitol Hill, Washington, Feb. 7, 2013.
Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, testify on Capitol Hill, Washington, Feb. 7, 2013.
Cindy Saine
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has strongly defended the Pentagon’s response to last September's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that resulted in the deaths of four Americans. In what is likely his last appearance before a Senate committee, the outgoing Pentagon chief appealed to Congress to take action to prevent automatic spending cuts to military spending, set to happen March 1.  

Nearly all of the members of the Senate Armed Services committee thanked outgoing Defense Secretary Panetta for his years of dedicated service to the country.  But a number of Republican members had tough questions for him, and especially for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, on why the Pentagon was not able to protect Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the three other Americans killed in Benghazi.

Asked why U.S. military assets were not deployed to help those Americans under attack in their compound in Libya, Panetta said there were no appropriate U.S. aircraft nearby, so it would have taken nine to 12 hours for an armed aircraft to get there. Panetta cited an internal Defense Department review of the incident, saying the Pentagon did what it could.

“The interagency response was timely and appropriate, but there simply was not enough time, given the speed of the attacks, for armed U.S. military assets to have made a difference," said Panetta.

Panetta and Dempsey said they would have had armed troops deployed to the Benghazi facility if they had been requested, and cited a gap in intelligence in Libya, and in northern Africa in general.  Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss was not satisfied.

“Your responses, General Dempsey, are very inadequate, and in my opinion, the same kind of inadequacy for the security that you provided at that consulate," said Chambliss.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham grilled both Panetta and Dempsey on how many times they spoke to President Barack Obama on the night of the Benghazi attack.  They both said they spoke to the president once. Graham expressed surprise that the president was not more involved, and that he had not called back to find out how things were going in Libya.

During the hearing, a question from Republican Senator John McCain prompted Dempsey and Panetta to reveal that they both support sending U.S. arms to the opposition in Syria, although President Obama has refused to take that action.  McCain did not press the matter, however.

Panetta called on members of Congress to agree on a national budget to prevent severe automatic spending cuts - the measure known as the sequester - from happening on March 1.

“I have got to use this opportunity to express again my greatest concern as secretary, and frankly one of the greatest security risks we are now facing as a nation, that this budget uncertainty could prompt the most significant military readiness crisis in more than a decade," he said.

Panetta called for a balanced solution to avoid the automatic spending cuts, saying the sequester was designed to be so "crazy" that it would never actually happen.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid