Matt Bracken, a formerly Navy SEAL, makes a persuasive case in a PJ Media article, for why the Benghazigate buck stops with Barack Obama. And the key phrase is “Cross Border Authority”.
The Benghazi debacle boils down to a single key factor — the granting or withholding of “cross-border authority.” This opinion is informed by my experience as a Navy SEAL officer who took a NavSpecWar Detachment to Beirut.
Once the alarm is sent – in this case, from the consulate in Benghazi — dozens of HQs are notified and are in the planning loop in real time, including AFRICOM and EURCOM, both located in Germany. Without waiting for specific orders from Washington, they begin planning and executing rescue operations, including moving personnel, ships, and aircraft forward toward the location of the crisis. However, there is one thing they can’t do without explicit orders from the president: cross an international border on a hostile mission.
That is the clear “red line” in this type of a crisis situation.
No administration wants to stumble into a war because a jet jockey in hot pursuit (or a mixed-up SEAL squad in a rubber boat) strays into hostile territory. Because of this, only the president can give the order for our military to cross a nation’s border without that nation’s permission. For the Osama bin Laden mission, President Obama granted CBA for our forces to enter Pakistani airspace.
On the other side of the CBA coin: in order to prevent a military rescue in Benghazi, all the POTUS has to do is not grant cross-border authority. If he does not, the entire rescue mission (already in progress) must stop in its tracks
The tricky point here is plausible deniability. Obama did not have to do anything that leaves a paper trail. All he had to do was… nothing.
All he had to do was turn his back while the two former SEALS died. All he had to do was make some appropriate noises that fell short of granting cross border authority, which will be enough for the media to spin it as doing everything he could, while preventing any actual rescue effort from taking place.
Panetta, who doesn’t have to run for office himself, has fallen on the sword and taken responsibility for refusing to send in aid. But that’s what people like Panetta are for. They take responsibility and they expect that their show of loyalty will lead to more jobs down the road.
The final decision, the velocity kill of the big buck, rested not with Panetta, but with Obama. Even if Panetta did advise Obama to deny aid, the decision was still taken by Obama. And it’s Obama who has to bear the responsibility for it.