Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates defended the Obama administration’s decision-making during the Benghazi assault, saying he would have made the same calls if he were still on the job.
Gates, who served under both President Barack Obama and George W. Bush, said there wasn’t time to reach the American compound during the attack.
“I think my decisions would have been just as theirs were,” Gates said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” noting that he hasn’t been briefed on the situation by U.S. officials and has only followed the developments through media reports.
He said the U.S. doesn’t have a ready force standing by in the Middle East, so “getting somebody there in a timely way would have been very difficult, if not impossible.”
As for the option of sending even a single fighter jet to try to “scare” the attackers, Gates said that was impossible because of the danger of surface-to-air missiles.
“I would not have approved sending an aircraft, a single aircraft over Benghazi in those circumstances,” he said.
It also wasn’t feasible to send in any special forces units, Gates said.
“Based on everything I read, people didn’t really know what was going on in Benghazi contemporaneously,” he said. “To 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, I think it would have been very dangerous and I would not have approved that.”
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