Captain Terry Hestilow, Retired / While it is important that we determine who was responsible for the obvious White House cover-up concerning the Islamic attack on Americans in Benghazi, it is far more important that Congress be relentless in discovering who issued the original order for American forces to “stand down” and let Americans die unnecessarily. Our military “Warrior Ethos” demands, “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” It is clear from testimony that our Reaction Forces were prevented from mounting any kind of rescue of Americans on the ground. We need to know who gave that order! Copies of this letter were also sent to my own two senators (Cornyn and Cruz) and Congressman Michael Burgess. I am including this copy to Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) because he heads the House Oversight Committee. I hope you will all demand that your own senators and representatives require these witnesses to be brought to testify what they know before Congress.
The Honorable Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA)
Chairman, House Oversight Committee
United States House of Representatives
2347 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Re: Who gave the order to “stand down”?
Dear Chairman Issa,
Like so many of my fellow citizens, I remain frustrated that after many months of waiting to discover the truth about who issued the infamous “stand down” orders denying military rescue support to Americans under attack in Benghazi, Libya, on or about the evening-morning of September 11-12,2012, we continue to be denied the specific names of those officials who originally issued the orders. To be very specific,I am referring to the attack by hostile Islamic elements on the compound in which United States Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and Mr. Sean Smith,Information Management Officer were killed, and later at the CIA annex where retired SEALS and embassy security officers Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty were killed by the same or related hostile elements.
Since the House of Representatives have reopened committee hearings on this incident in which “whistle blower” witness, Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks, who was second in diplomatic command in Libya on the evening of Ambassador Steven’s death has clearly articulated that the senior military officer in Tripoli, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Gibson, U.S. Army, was ordered to “stand down” instead of leading a quick reaction force (QRF) from the airfield at Tripoli in support of Americans who remained in jeopardy in the area of Benghazi. I would expect that this same LTC Gibson be called before any and all Congressional committees investigating the matter to discover exactly whom he understood was ordering him, and his QRF team, to “stand down” or otherwise not go to the rescue of those remaining in jeopardy in Benghazi.
Additionally, given the most strained and unrealistic account of the early relief of General Carter Ham, the former commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), days later by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Americans have become very troubled that it was later reported that Gen.Ham was, in fact, preparing to dispatch a QRF from his command to rescue the Americans under fire; but was stopped by his deputy prior to the team’s launch. That report holds that his deputy commander, upon receipt of orders of undetermined authority and origin, did apprehend and relieve Gen. Ham to prevent such reaction forces from being deployed to save the Americans in danger. It appears that any attempt to understand what was transpiring in the region during those critical hours would require that both General Ham and the officer in question (Gen.Ham’s AFRICOM deputy commander) also be questioned, under subpoena if necessary, to answer these questions in open hearings.
Chairman Issa, I understand that there are very few members of Congress who understand the “Warrior Ethos” that American service members live by—without regard to difficulty of task or mission. I would remind you, as I would likewise remind every member charged with command decisions, that one of the most important parts of that ethos demands, “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” LTC Gibson and Gen. Ham were apparently willing to follow that ethos at the potential cost of their careers. If that is true, these men are truly worthy to be assigned to lead American troops. They were prepared to live or die by that ethos. Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty indeed did die by that ethos. We know that they lived it, because they were not hesitant to die by it!
Let me remind you, at no time on the dates identified could anyone in the White House, the Pentagon, or the Department of State determine there was no longer enough time to deploy a QRF to the scene of contact with the enemy to rescue Americans remaining on the ground in Benghazi before being attacked again by the Islamic hostiles in Benghazi—or Tripoli, for that matter. It is the height of betrayal and an empty excuse when a politician or Pentagon military officer offers that deployment of support was not provided because, looking backward, there was “not enough time” to mobilize a reaction force to support those facing death! It is an offense of deepest intensity to Americans serving in uniform to realize that they can no longer trust either the nation’s political leadership or the flag officers appointed over them to do everything possible to extract them from impending and needless slaughter at the hands of a hostile force.
Chairman, the talking points of the US Ambassador to the UN is certainly important in determining if the president was conducting a “coverup” to avoid being honest with the American people. More important to military personnel, however, is the question of who generated the orders to refuse life saving support to Americans facing death. It is, therefore, imperative that Congress bring the military personnel who would have received those orders to be questioned before the Congress in the matter. If necessary, empanel and empower a special joint committee to investigate the issue with subpoena authority to get at the truth. Indeed,without the testimony of General Ham, his deputy in AFRICOM during the Benghazi attack, and LTC Gibson, the question will certainly remain unanswered. I recommend you start with these men, and work up the chain of command!
Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty, among others, did their duty and paid the price for our failures in Libya. I call upon you and your fellow members of the U.S. Congress to do your duty and interview these witnesses at all costs so that the American people will know why those four Americans died in September 2012 at the hands of Islamic terrorists in Benghazi. To do less will constitute an even greater betrayal of the American people.
I know that this letter demands much of you. The People of California elected you because they knew that you are up to the task at hand and will, against all threats, honor your oath and office. I am also writing to your fellow members of the House and Senate, my senators and representative, to demand that these identified witnesses be interviewed to establish the source of the “stand down” order. I think the people of this nation, of Texas, California, and the other forty-eight states, are owed an honest answer. I’m looking to you being a part of getting that accomplished as soon as possible. Nothing less will do.
For the United States of America!
Captain Terry M. Hestilow
United States Army, Retired
Fort Worth, Texas
May 14, 2013