Government watchdog group Judicial Watch published a U.S. Navy map on Wednesday showing the locations of ships in the region surrounding Libya on the night of the deadly Benghazi Attack.
The unclassified map was obtained by Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Randall R. Schmidt via a Freedom of Information of Act (FOIA) request. Schmidt is reportedly investigating the U.S. military’s response to the Benghazi attack and provided a copy of the map to the group.
"The U.S. military had a multitude of forces in the region surrounding Libya when terrorists attacked the Special Mission in Benghazi and murdered four Americans," Judicial Watch writes.
“Destroyers could have responded to the attack,” Schmidt said.
He also said the military had “rapid reaction forces” and “armed predators” in the region. So far, the Department of Defense has refused to provide him records on the air fleet on Sept. 11, 2012.
“The point is there were enough forces to respond,” Schmidt added.
Judicial Watch breaks down the locations of various military fleets:
Dozens of vessels were stationed in the region on that day, including two aircraft carriers (Dwight D. Eisenhower and Enterprise), four amphibious ships, 13 destroyers, three cruisers and more than a dozen other smaller Navy boats as well as a command ship. Carriers are warships, the powerhouse of the naval fleet with a full-length flight deck for aircraft operations. During the Benghazi attack, two carriers were based to the east in the Arabian Sea, the Navy map shows.
Two amphibious assault ships (Iwo Jima and Gunston Hill) were situated to the east in the Gulf of Oman and one (New York) was in the Gulf of Aden, the map shows. A fourth (Fort McHenry) was located on the west side of the African continent in the Atlantic Ocean. Amphibious ships resemble small aircraft carriers and have air-craft strips for vertical and short take-offs and landings. The destroyers are scattered throughout the region, but the closest appear to be four (Cole, Forrest Sherman, Jason Dunham and Aboon) in the Mediterranean Sea north of Libya. The rest of the fleet includes cruisers, minesweepers, patrols and a command ship.
In a letter attached to the map, the Navy writes that the Iwo Jima was the closest large amphibious ship to Benghazi on that day, but fails to mention the exact distance. The letter does mention that the USS Enterprise, the aircraft carrier that appears on the map to be the closest to Libya, was located approximately 3,350 nautical miles from Benghazi. “Assuming a 20 knot transit speed and no Suez Canal delays, the transit would take approximately 168 hours or seven days,” the Navy says in the letter to Schmidt. The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower “would require additional transit time from its position in the Arabian Gulf,” the letter further states.
As CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson points out, the State Department Accountability Review Board determined that nothing else could have been done in terms of military assistance. The Obama administration has been consistent in its claim that it had no military assets in the area available to respond to the attack.
The map isn’t definite prove that the Obama administration didn't do enough to respond to the assault in Benghazi. Clearly more information is needed to determine if any of these fleets were actually prepared tactically to respond to such an attack or could have made it to Benghazi in a reasonable amount of time. We will monitor any breaking updates on this story.
The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded last month that the attack in Benghazi was "preventable." Further, The Republican-led House Armed Services Committee earlier this week concluded that no official "stand down" order was given on the night of Sept. 11, 2012.