Perhaps the most honored dictum in the code of the American warrior is that no fellow fighter is left behind in a struggle, no matter the price to be paid in any attempt to rescue him.
Ironically, that is the rationale given by the Obama Administration for its disastrous swap of five Guantanamo prisoners of war for Bowe Bergdahl, an American captive of the terrorists. Several of these high-ranking terrorists. are now reported again in combat and Bergdahl’s comrades in arms, despite his denials, have not only charged he deserted his post but that several of his buddies were killed in unsuccessful attempts to rescue him.
“No man left behind” as part of our military code of honor dates back, in fact, before the U.S. was founded according to Prof. Paul Stringer of the Air Command and Staff College. During the French and Indian War, 20 years before Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, Rogers’ Rangers, a guerrilla militia fighting with the British, established the precedent. Through America’s wars, the effort – often against unfavorable odds – has been a guiding principle of the conduct of our armed forces if at other odd times abandoned.
It is in that context that the failure of U.S. military forces to go to the aid of the trapped diplomats and at soldiers in Benghazi, Libya, for six hours on the evening of September 11, 2012 has been argued. Obama Administration officials have testified before Congressional hearings that no military rescue force was available, and that, in fact, no order was given to send them or no order for them to stand down. [In fact, of course, a Special Forces unit stationed in Tripoli did move to their aid without higher up permission which resulted in the rescue of some of the survivors.]
Central to why no rescue effort was made at Benghazi is the question of the origin of the attack on the American diplomatic mission, whether as the Administration insisted at the time despite all the evidence to the contrary, that it was because of an anti-Islamicist video produced and shown in the U.S. which had excited demonstrations in neighboring Cairo. Or whether, as the Administration’s critics insist, it had its origins in a long-planned attack by terrorists against the Americans.
In her famous soliloquy Oct 22, 2015, then Sec. of State Hillary Clinton made her famous remark “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”
That argument has somewhat obscured the more important issue of why no military assistance was ordered. The Obama Administration has contended that none was available within a capable geographic distance and therefore was not considered.
But now, overshadowed by such “events” as Donald Trump’s controversial proposal to ban Moslem immigrants, a Judicial Watch lawsuit has produced an e-mail indicating that such military rescue efforts were under consideration. Despite the “redaction” [censorship] an e-mail message Tuesday, September 11, 2012 7:19 PM from Jeremy Bash, then-Department of Defense Chief of Staff, to Hillary Clinton’s office and other high State Department officials, reveals that such mobilization was underway:
“xxx After consulting with General Dempsey, General Ham and the Joint Staff, we have identified the forces that could move to Benghazi. They are spinning up as we speak. They include a [REDACTED].
“ Assuming Principals agree to deploy these elements, we will ask State to procure the approval from host nation. Please advise how you wish to convey that approval to us [REDACTED].”
The mystery of why the Congressional Select Committee investigating the death of four Americans at Benghazi – including an U.S. ambassador – remains unsolved. Could it have something to do with an internal squabble in The Pentagon itself over whose was the responsibility the lack of resolve in this case of “no man left behind”?