WASHINGTON – Today, at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, retired USAF Brigadier General Robert Lovell, the former Deputy Director for Intelligence for the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM), testified that State Department officials never asked the military to go save Americans under attack in Benghazi.
At today’s hearing, Rep. Jason Chaffetz had the following exchange with BrigGen Lovell over the military response to the attacks the night of September 11, 2012:
Rep. Chaffetz: What was the mood in the [operations center] room? What was the feeling? To save our people?
BrigGen Lovell: It was desperation there… it was desperation to gain situational awareness and to be able to do something to save people’s lives.
Rep. Chaffetz: … We had assets there in Europe. Did they actually go into the sound of the guns? Did they actually go into Benghazi?
BrigGen Lovell: No sir, those assets did not.
Rep. Chaffetz: Why not?
BrigGen Lovell: Basically, there was a lot of looking to the State Department for what they wanted and the deference to the Libyan people and the sense of deference to the desires of the State Department in terms of what they would like to have.
Rep. Chaffetz: Did they ever tell you to go save the people in Benghazi?
BrigGen Lovell: Not to my knowledge, sir.
Rep. Chaffetz: … We didn’t run to the sound of the guns? They were issuing press releases. We had Americans dying. We had dead people. We had wounded people. And our military didn’t try to engage in that fight. Would you disagree with that?
BrigGen Lovell: …Four individuals died. Sir, we obviously did not respond in time to get there.
Rep. Chaffetz: Could we have?
BrigGen Lovell: We may have been able to, but we’ll never know.
BrigGen Lovell also testified that the event “was not- not an escalation [of a protest]. It was an attack.”