That Old Benghazi Magic

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SAUL LOEB/ AFP / Getty Images / Battleland

This Magic Moment: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Army General Martin Dempsey testifying Thursday.

The Pentagon screws up. A lot. Sometimes here at Battleland, we even take note of it when it happens.

But watching Thursday’s hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee into the role, or lack of a role, played by the U.S. military during the terror attack last Sept. 11 that killed four U.S. officials in Benghazi, Libya, was a revelation.

The deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, a Foreign Service information officer, and former SEALs and CIA contract employees Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty, was a tragedy.

But the questions directed at Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led one to think that the pair facing the panel was…actually Pretense Secretary Harry Houdini and General David Copperfield, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Magic.

“We could have had aircraft and other capabilities as short distance away as Souda Bay, Crete,” Senator John McCain of Arizona noted.

“We have F-16s at Aviano, is that true?” Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire wanted to know. “I don’t understand why we didn’t have armed assets somewhere in the area.”

“Were there any AC-130 gunships within a thousand miles of Benghazi, Libya?” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina asked.

The tone and tenor of the questions made clear that while Benghazi may have been the hearing’s stated focus, President Obama’s handling of national security, and the impending cuts to the Pentagon budget, hovered like apparitions over the session.

The GOP critics plainly are not satisfied with the U.S. being the world’s lone superpower.

Now they want its military to possess superpowers – being able to predict the future, to collapse the challenges of time and distance into nothingness, and to use magical thinking to move military assets where they are needed, instantly, in a single bound.