Things Might Have Turned Out Differently in Benghazi If General Biden Had Been in Command

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Air Force photo / Staff Sgt. Christopher Boitz

A pair of low-flying F-16s can be pretty intimidating.

Congress can’t stop asking questions about the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that led to the death of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

“We’re still in the stage of remorse relative to the death of four brave Americans in Benghazi,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said Tuesday at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. “The American people have demanded answers and frankly, we have not been able to provide them…because we haven’t been given all of the answers.”

Last week, Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., wondered why no U.S. military assets were ordered into action the moment it became clear the consulate was under serious attack.

“Did you ever suggest that we deploy any military asset quicker than 24 hours?” he asked Army General Carter Ham, chief of U.S. Africa Command.

“I did not,” Ham responded. “I considered, but did not request, the deployment of fighter aircraft.”

Countered Graham: “Did anybody ever ask you, `General Ham, what do we have to get to the aid of these folks quickly?’ Did anyone ever suggest that we use an F-15 or F-16 to buzz the compound once the ambassador was found missing?”

“Not to my knowledge, sir,” Ham responded.

The exchange is noteworthy because of Vice President Joe Biden’s contention last month that loud noises – a double-barreled shotgun, perhaps, or maybe even an F-16 flyby, as suggested by Graham (he is an Air Force reservist, after all) – can deter evil-doers.

Biden told a Facebook gathering Feb. 19 that assault weapons with high-capacity magazines aren’t needed for protection:

Iif you want to protect yourself, get a double-barrel shotgun, have the shells — a 12-gauge shotgun — and I promise you — as I told my wife — we live in an area that’s wooded and somewhat secluded. I said, Jill, if there’s ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out, put that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house. I promise you: whoever’s coming in, is not going to…”

Biden never served in the military. But it’s fair to wonder what might have happened if, instead of Biden’s double-barreled shotgun, a pair of Air Force F-16s had been promptly dispatched to buzz Benghazi. “If I could turn the clock back,” Ham told the senators about the limited action the U.S. military took that night, “I would make different decisions based on what I know now, as opposed to what I knew then.”