HH: Tonight as the storm rages, the Old Guard is at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They will not leave. I’m talking to a veteran of the Old Guard now, Tom Cotton, running for Congress of the United States, 4th Congressional district in Arkansas, member as well of the 101st. He’s going to be a new Congressman, and he wanted to talk about Benghazi. But am I right, Tom Cotton, your colleagues in the Old Guard will be at that tomb all night long regardless of the weather?
TC: Hi, Hugh, great to join you. Yes, you can be assured that the Old Guard will keep faith with our comrades who are buried in that Tomb of the Unknowns as a symbol of keeping faith with our soldiers everywhere. But right now, I am deeply concerned about what our civilian leadership has done in Benghazi last month, and whether they’ve been keeping faith with troops downrange.
HH: Let’s talk about that, because Senator McCain began the show, I’ll replay it next hour, with a blistering statement that the President is not qualified to be commander-in-chief because of this, that he’s going to put the key administration officials under oath if he gets the Senate back. He is angry. He said that veterans across the United States are mad as hell. Do you agree with that, Tom Cotton?
TC: I fully support John McCain. He’s been a great leader on this. You saw him over the weekend in his remarks. There are a lot of questions that need to be asked, because this was bad enough whenever it was the President not having provided the security before the attack, and then spinning the results or the cause of the attack afterwards. But based on Jennifer Griffin’s reporting from Friday, we now know that it could be much worse, that somewhere in the chain of command, someone denied support in both air assets and quick reaction force directly to operatives who were on the ground.
HH: Now as you see all these reports, Tom Cotton, what sticks out with you? And we can stay on that report or anything else. What are your questions?
TC: The President says he wants to have an investigation. We don’t need an investigation. The President knows what he was doing from 4-10PM Eastern time on September 11th. We know what he was doing for some of that. He was in the White House with the Secretary of Defense. He was also on the phone with Benjamin Netanyahu, who of all people would understand the need to get off the phone when you’re under attack. We had calls of distress from Tyrone Woods, the ex-SEAL, who was a CIA operative on the ground at the CIA annex in Benghazi, who was requesting air assets, and then requesting military backup. Now there was a security team that moved from Tripoli to Benghazi. I believe that that was authorized by the CIA and within their rules of engagements. But to move military assets from Italy into Libya, which is almost as close as Tripoli was to Benghazi, would require, obviously, approval of the Department of Defense. And I doubt that the Department of Defense would deny or grant such a request without taking it directly to the President. You’re talking about moving military assets into a sovereign country. So we need to know when the President was briefed on the situation in Benghazi, what the military proposed to do, what the President did in response to that briefing, because Hugh, here’s the reporting, and no one’s denied this reporting. Tyrone Woods used a ground laser designator to illuminate an enemy mortar team. For all those veterans out there, you know that infrared discipline in combat is just as important as light and noise discipline. You don’t use an infrared illuminator until you’re ready for fire support. Tyrone Woods is a Navy SEAL. A private in the infantry knows not to do that. He would not have illuminated that mortar team unless he expected air fire immediately as soon as he did so. I strongly suspect there was an armed drone, or even a Specter gunship overhead that did not fire, even though Tyrone Woods expected it to. I wanted to know who gave that order. Was it a local commander? Was it General Ham, the commander of African Command? Was it Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs? Was it Leon Panetta? Or was it the President?
HH: Now Tom Cotton, do you believe that General Ham has been relieved? This is out there, and I can’t lay any specific corroboration about that. But have you seen those reports?
TC: I’ve seen the reports. I don’t know what the truth is. That’s why we need to ask these questions, and that’s why they need to be answered. I understand that a lot of people are focused on the storm on the East Coast, and it’s certainly an important matter. But there’s no more important matter than the fact that we have to keep faith with our troops when they are in contact with the enemy on the ground, and we have assets that can help them. I strongly suspect that this would have gotten to both the Situation Room at the State Department and the White House. And we need answers to questions why they didn’t deploy those air assets that were already on station, and why they didn’t deploy tier one Special Forces operators who were in Italy. And I can assure you, they were just chomping at the bit to go. When I was in Iraq and Afghanistan, when you hear gunfire in another sector, you don’t wait for the battalion or the brigade command to tell you to go engage as a quick reaction force. You move to the sound of gunfire, and you save American lives when they’re under fire.
HH: Tom Cotton, than you for weighing in on this. www.cottonforcongress.com to learn more about Tom, and if you want to help the surviving child of Ty Woods, the brave former Navy SEAL and CIA operator who was killed in Benghazi because of what we do not know, I posted the link to the Ty Woods Memorial Fund at Hughhewitt.com. It will benefit the education of his child, who is an infant. The link is over at Hughhewitt.com.
End of interview.