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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs