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Could military action have saved lives in Benghazi?

"Could military action have saved lives in Benghazi?" Continued...

Democrats on the committee did not dispute the false YouTube video narrative the administration pursued in the days after the attack, but they did push back against the idea that the military didn’t respond. Ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., confirmed that some assets were dispatched to Libya, although Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., noted they were all directed to Tripoli, not Benghazi.

Lovell said a full account of what happened on the night of the attacks is critical to prevent similar tragedies in the future: “We have to have the confidence of the American people that provide us with the sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and dads. We have to ensure we rebuild the trust.”

The hearing also explored the larger context for the Benghazi attack, including the U.S. decision to help topple Muammar Qaddafi. Libya was an inaugural member of the State Department’s State Sponsor of Terrorism list in 1979, but the Bush administration removed the designation in 2007 after Qaddafi expelled terrorist groups, closed training camps, and shuttered his WMD program. In March 2011, the Obama administration went all-in to get rid of Qaddafi. The ensuing U.S.-led NATO bombing campaign ousted the dictator but destabilized the country, and cost tens of thousands of lives, including four Americans.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, submitted testimony saying the intervention in Libya was “executed nearly flawlessly,” but the decision “appears to be a strategic mistake.” He said the war in Libya was a “foreign policy blunder” on par with the Iraq war, but it didn’t attract the same attention because it cost far less in money and American lives.

Frederic Wehrey, a senior Middle East associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, testified that most Libyans attribute the country’s destabilization to Qaddafi’s 42-year rule, not the NATO-led intervention. He said Libyans retain feelings of goodwill toward the United States, even as the country struggles to form a stable government and eliminate terrorist threats.

J.C. Derrick
J.C. Derrick

J.C. is a reporter in WORLD's Washington Bureau. He spent 10 years covering sports, higher education, and politics for the Longview News-Journal and other newspapers in Texas before joining WORLD in 2012. Follow J.C. on Twitter @jcderrick1.

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