Fox News had this little tidbit buried in an article about a related matter—the fact that we knew who one of the Benghazi terrorists was in time to have him detained in mid-escape at a Turkish airport, and we let him get away. The tidbit is this:
[T]he two Predator drones deployed over Benghazi the night of the attack were both unarmed. The first Predator was redirected from Darnah in eastern Libya, where Al Qaeda has active training camps that the US military has been watching for some time…. It arrived in Benghazi about an hour after the attack began, suggesting the first hour of the attack was not fed back to officials in Washington.
That drone was running low on fuel, so a second Predator, also unarmed, was deployed from Sigonella, Italy, to provide back-up. It is not clear why the second drone left Sigonella unarmed after the attack had begun.
“While some may think that armed drones could have made a difference in Benghazi, that’s altogether unclear,” a senior defense official tells Fox News. “You need good intelligence to drive the use of armed drones. It’s not like you can just send hellfire missiles into a relatively crowded area when you don’t know precisely where the enemy is.”
First, keep in mind that real-time and near real-time data were flowing to State and to the White House via telephone from the consulate’s TOC and via email.
The “senior defense official” ‘s explanation for launching the second (weapons capable) drone into a combat zone unarmed is…inadequate. The purpose of the drones was not to bore holes in the sky, but to observe the doings and to identify targets. Perhaps even to launch on one that was being lased from the Annex rooftop later in that fight. The claim of not knowing “precisely where the enemy is” is a reason for holding fire, not for launching unarmed.
This is really beginning to smack of an appalling paralysis under pressure by the small-time amateurs in the White House and Defense, if not of outright incompetence.