WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and John McCain (R-Arizona) today released the following statement on the lack of United States military reinforcements to aid our Consulate in Benghazi, Libya during the September 11, 2012 attack:
“A number of our constituents are asking what could have been done to protect our fellow Americans during the almost eight hour siege on our Consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. As a result, we contacted Department of Defense officials. To our dismay, we were informed that despite ample warning signs that the immediate region remained unstable and our people under threat, inadequate preparations were made to respond to what in retrospect seems a likely attack.
“We were told reconnaissance aircraft were sent, and that a surveillance drone had been repositioned in response to the attack. But we were both shocked to hear that on September 11th, a day of heightened concern for American interests throughout the world, there were no land forces available to support Benghazi, Libya—one of the most vulnerable and high threat areas within the Middle East. We were further stunned and disappointed to hear that there was no effort to use fighter aircraft to disperse the attack or support the consulate. One of the most disturbing aspects of this situation was the low level of security and the lack of ability to reinforce the consulate that had been attacked on two previous occasions, in a region where most Western interests had withdrawn because of al-Qaeda-inspired militia.
“The last two casualties occurred well over six hours after the initial attack. It was known early that the U.S. Ambassador to Libya was missing. His whereabouts were only discovered when Libyan hospital officials, who were attending to Ambassador Stevens, found his cell phone and made a call. It is disappointing to hear that our national command authorities failed to try to reinforce the Consulate with timely air assets, and that a consulate located in one of the most dangerous regions in the world was so unsecured.”