Ex-Special Operations CIF Member: Benghazi Was Absolutely Avoidable, “Panetta Principle” Is a Lie

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Bryan Suits is an Iraq and Balkan War veteran who hosts the Dark Secret Place, a weekly talk radio show on the continuing developments of America’s War on Terror. This last Saturday, he invited a special guest identified only as “D,” who was a member of the secretive, but not secret, CIF which stands for Commanders In extremis Force, a “Special Operations team.”

During the interview, a strong critique is made of the explanation put out this week by Leon Panetta to try to sweep questions about Benghazi under the rug. “D” gives an account of the role of the Commanders  In extremis Force that specifically contradicts Panetta’s excuse given to the press as to why this force or other assets were not deployed to save the Americans under terrorist attack in Benghazi.

Click here to listen to the entire show at KFI AM 640

The CIF has gained a lot of attention lately, as it has been reported that “a force was prepared to go to Benghazi and effect a rescue of whoever was left,” as Suits puts it.

Leon Panetta, in defense of their decision to not go in to Benghazi while it was being attacked for seven hours, posited the supposed principle that you don’t send people into harm’s way without information.

Bryan Suits explains why the CIF is specifically created for just this kind of rescue mission:

[The CIF is a] heretofore little known American option…You’ve probably never heard that before. It’s not secret per se, but it’s not publicized very much… the CIF, as it’s called is something that is available to every theater commander.
The CIF are US army special forces soldiers who are specifically dedicated to being prepared at all times for months on end to leave with no notice, with little or no information to move by air or whatever vehicle, to a situation, that they have been determined to be the best immediate solution to. They oftentimes get in the air with absolutely no idea where they’re going or what the mission is. Oftentimes they are briefed in the air.”
The entire purpose of this [CIF]… in the extreme, there is no worse case than this. Something is happening right now, and we don’t have 24 hours to get Delta force in there. Something is happening right now, and that’s why these forces, the CIF are pre-positioned… to at the drop of a hat, to go anywhere and do anything.
It’s time to explain what is angering so many people in the special operations community, because they’re aware of the CIF.
Suits goes on to explain that he is not sharing anything secret, only a capability that has been unpublicized and unrecognized in the media or popular understanding of our military forces.
A CIF force would have been pre-positioned in Italy, less than 500 miles from Benghazi on the day of the attack.
The bottom line is this – did the president have an option? He did. What Leon Panetta said about “real-time information”, when Leon Panetta was saying that on Thursday, we know that’s a LIE. because we’ve known for weeks that there was a predator drone orbiting the Benghazi consulate. Have US forces been sent places with less information? YES. I can personally vouch for being sent places where my initial mission was to find out what was going on.
There’s no such principle that you don’t deploy people without information.

Suits’ purpose in having a CIF commander is to answer the question, “Was a rescue mission delayed, or interfered with by the White House?”

Fox News discussed the role of the CIF force as an option to save at least 3 of the Americans who died, and limit the wounding of our other personnel.

From “D” who served on the CIF before 9/11:

I can’t speak highly enough of the teams I was with there, and how singularly capable of handling that kind of crisis that we’re talking about there. But since the time I was on the CIF… you’re looking at a decade of combat experience and there’s nothing that can compare to that kind of expertise – they are absolute machines of lethality and can hit any contingency situation you can conjure up. And that they would sit there, and have a capability greater than the one I had, they were handed pretty much victory on a silver platter, and watched it go bad.

Suits asks:

…because you guys are the “firemen” who get there first before Delta Force shows up, or whatever, what was the most amount of information you ever left on a real-world mission with?

D:

A piece of paper, a hand-sketched map, it doesn’t take much.

He continues with his reaction to the “Panetta principle”:

This is my pissed off voice – I ask you,  in what alternate universe do you sit there and let Americans get overrun like that with all the time on your hands, have that asset in the hopper ready to fly, and you did what?

Suits:

Did you ever in your career in the commanders In extremis force did you ever go into a situation where a UAV was orbiting real time… and CIA assets were physically on the ground with eyes on the target – did you ever get that much information?

D:

No. Never Never had that much data... never had people that were giving us a live feed in the zone you need to be in, most of the time it was a surprise… it was unbelievable the information they had to go on, and then they did nothing.

It’s inexcusable.

Suits then plays the quote from Leon Panetta wherein he admits that there were forces available, and outlined “the Panetta principle”:

…the basic principle here is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on without having some real-time information about whats taking place. And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground, or in that area, General Ham, General Dempsey, and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.

Suits:

What kills me is that he is pulling that right out of his A**, because in the statement right before, he says “we had forces for any contingency” well clearly, the contingency where you don’t know anything except that Americans are dying, you weren’t prepared for that.

D:

And the numbers that they’re releasing in open source are, honest to goodness, man, you coulda taken 12 well-armed, decently trained girl scouts to take care of this, but to do nothing? Again, what alternate universe are they in that they were getting a livefeed from overhead [inaudible] platform, they had people in the building, and they had… accessibility to the target area, and they just pretty much let it burn down, they just let it happen.

It’s totally inexcusable. It’s totally inexcusable.

Bryan then turned to the subject of General Ham, who he says has been “thrown under the bus” by Leon Panetta. Again the question is just what relationship do the generals have with the president, and who is most likely to have made the call to hold back our forces from rescuing Americans under attack.

Is it possible that a four-star general said [to the president] “they’re there, but uh, I wouldn’t send them”?

D:

I can’t imagine. I’ve never met Dempsey or Ham, I’d like to tell you that our generals are all the eagle’s talons and sharp as can be, but the fact is that we’ve had the disease of political correctness get people promoted, and whether or not they’re gonna make decisions for the betterment, that’s a mystery.

Suits then asks “D” given his experience, what it would have looked like if the CIF had been given the greenlight to go into Benghazi, with 75 armed men running around. “D” answers:

That would have been a very lop-sided fight, and it would not have taken long, it would have been wrapped up cleanly, put into a package. Y’know 75 could turn into 100, even still it would have been more than adequate to throw a CIF at that problem, and clean it up, transition those people immediately. If they were going to their destination where the two seals got hit, even then they would have been in a better position… there woulda been a heck of a lot more people alive.

“D” continues, referencing Clint Eastwood’s GOP convention speech:

When it came crunchtime, and Americans were overrun and they were dying, there was an empty chair.

Bryan Suits points out that CIA Director Petraeus would have been pointing to the White House when he said it wasn’t from them. “D” interjects, “he’s not the national command authority!”

Is it possible for… the army commander of the CIF – can he say no?

D:

I’ve never exercised any type of scenario in my mind or in practice where we ever considered saying no. It’s a greenlight organization…. that was all we did, all the time. Ridiculous amounts of ammunition and training.

You didn’t need a crystal ball to predict something might happen odd on 9/11 somewhere in the Middle East. Y’know, really, how kindergarten is that?

Suits:

In your experience, looking at the calendar, things coming down the road, does the army actually lean forward and say, you know what we’re gonna move you forward to blank, Italy, or wherever,  just in case?

D:

Yeah you can do a whole host of things, but until you actually launch that force or any other force, you need to get the national command authority to buzz off.

And you know I don’t know exactly what kind of perverse combination of negligence and incompetence it would take to just sit and watch this go down on tv, while you know that force is in position. I cannot even imagine that, or what alternate universe someone thought that was a good call.

Suits:

Well again, if Leon Panetta had not patronized the media by saying look there’s a principle that you don’t deploy people into harm’s way without good information. All I know is I was just a conventional infantry soldier in Iraq [laughing] and I was basically sent places because someone had heard there was a firefight going on and I would ask for more information on the way, and I got laughed at.

D:

Exactly. 29 years ago this week was my first combat in Grenada, and you know what we had? Tourist maps…

I know it’s an election season, but people should be furious about this. Again, the level of incompetence and the level of negligence to watch this go down over a 7-hour time frame. I don’t care if you send an F-18 over it. To do nothing? To do nothing was the right answer? I don’t think so.

I can’t imagine how doing nothing and to sit back and say “well we couldn’t do anything because we didn’t have all the information – in a pig’s eye. You had plenty of information.

Bryan Suits concluded this hour segment with the story of a US-selected US-trained Indonesian anti-terrorist squad that was able to stop a terrorist attack on American and other western embassies, before they occurred! Imagine that!

I hope people at least picked up that I’m ticked off about this and I’m not being flippant or cavalier. This is a serious issue – people were left to die.

listen to Bryan Suits’ Dark Secret Place every Saturday on KFI AM 640 from 8-10 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Also Read: Black Five – Former Delta Operator gives a similar assessment of the “Panetta Doctrine”

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