Secretary Gates on Benghazi Critics’ ‘Cartoonish’ View of Military Capability

Robert Gates

One Republican whom I have always admired — there are others — is Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Even on issues that I disagreed with him — such as his refusal to approve the Medal of Honor for Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta — I have continued to respect him.

Today, among the cabal that is Benghazi, there rose one Republican voice that has steadfastly refused to join the circus and the feeding frenzy and who spoke truth and reason: Secretary Gates.

On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Gates told it like it is: That some critics of the administration have a “cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces.”

He said, “Frankly, had I been in the job at the time, I think my decisions would have been just as theirs were…We don’t have a ready force standing by in the Middle East, and so getting somebody there in a timely way would have been very difficult, if not impossible.”

Countering those who suggested that we could have flown a fighter jet over the attackers to “scare them with the noise or something,” Gates said that such ignores the “number of surface to air missiles that have disappeared from [former Libyan leader] Qaddafi’s arsenals” and that he “would not have approved sending an aircraft, a single aircraft, over Benghazi under those circumstances,” according to CBS News.

On another criticism by many Republicans, Gates said, “send some small number of special forces or other troops in without knowing what the environment is, without knowing what the threat is, without having any intelligence in terms of what is actually going on on the ground, would have been very dangerous.”

He added, “It’s sort of a cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces…The one thing that our forces are noted for is planning and preparation before we send people in harm’s way, and there just wasn’t time to do that.”

Gates said he could not speak to allegations that the State Department refused requests for additional security in the months prior to the attack. However, when asked whether he thought it might be possible that that the State Department engineered a coverup to protect Hillary Clinton’s political future, Gates replied flatly, “No.”

Watch the entire interview covering other critical issues, such as Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and North Korea, here

Source: CBS Face the Nation

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

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