SEN. GRAHAM: I agree with that too. And I want -- did General Ham on that night every order -- every -- ever suggest that a military asset -- did he order a military asset in motion and someone told him to stand down?
GEN. DEMPSEY: No. He -- in fact, he was with us in the Pentagon that --
SENATOR MIKE LEE (R-UT): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thanks to both of you for being here today, and thank you for your service and all you do for our country.1
I certainly appreciate and respect the fact that as your acknowledged in your opening statements, it is impossible for you to be all things to all people. It's not possible for you to be anywhere in the world within notice of only a few minutes, and we need to keep that in mind as we look at the sad, unfortunate situation. We also recognize the concern that you have for U.S. personnel everywhere around and respect what you do for them.
I do want to follow up a little bit on some of the questions that Senator Graham was asking a few minutes ago. Secretary Panetta, a few minutes ago you indicated that we didn't have boots on the ground. We didn't deploy forces because the attack came to an end. But as Senator Graham pointed out, this is an attack that lasted nearly eight hours from start to finish. So at some point there had to have been a decision made not to deploy them. At what point in that time frame was it made? Or was it not made until after the attack had ended nearly eight hours after it began?
SEC. PANETTA: Senator, again, just to bring you back to the events as they took place, there was this initial attack on the facility at Benghazi. Within an hour or so, that ended, and very frankly, we thought that was the end of what had occurred there, and we had no intelligence that a second attack would take place at the annex two miles away after --
SEN. LEE: But we didn't know -- we didn't know, and what we did know is that a lot of people were still unaccounted for. So the immediate attack was perhaps not visibly under way, but you weren't certain that there wouldn't be more fighting.
SEC. PANETTA: There -- you know, obviously, you're not certain about what may or may not happen, but the issue of whether or not you suddenly deploy, you know, a platoon or a team into an area still has to -- you still have to determine whether or not the situation that's there requires the deployment of that force there. And frankly, when we were told that the attack was over, you know, we immediately -- you know, although we had the forces in place, we would have responded if something, you know, had indicated more -- we had no intelligence that -- to indicate that that was the case.
SEN. LEE: OK. An at -- and at what point -- to what point are you referring right now? You were talking about the initial attack on the compound?
SEC. PANETTA: That's correct. That's correct.
SEN. LEE: So was that decision revisited hours later when in the early hours of the morning, Benghazi time, another pretty considerable attack came about?
GEN. DEMPSEY: Let me make sure -- I think -- once the attack occurred, we started moving forces. Didn't matter, really, whether there was another attack; we were moving forces, and as they were moving, we would direct them where they were needed.
I actually thought they would likely be needed in Tripoli. But they were moving. And nothing we did slowed that process down.
Federal News Service
February 7, 2013 Thursday
Hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee Subject: Attack on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya Chaired by: Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) Witnesses: Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; General Martin Dempsey, U.S. Army, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Location: Room SD-G50, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. Time: 10:01 a.m. EST Date: Thursday, February 7, 2013
SECTION: PRESS CONFERENCE OR SPEECH
LENGTH: 37496 words