(UT San Diego) – A father and a mother used the word “murder.” A brother said he won’t second-guess decisions made in the heat of battle.
The families of three Americans killed in the Sept. 11 U.S. consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya, are offering widely different reactions to recent reports that U.S. personnel issued several requests for help that were turned down.
Patricia Smith, the mother of slain State Department employee Sean Patrick Smith, is now blaming President Barack Obama for her son’s death.
“I believe that Obama murdered my son,” she said Thursday from the living room of her Clairemont home. “I firmly believe this.”
Patricia Smith, who voted for Obama in 2008 at the insistence of her son, said reporting by Fox News is the basis for much of her belief that Obama is ultimately responsible for her son’s death. She said Sean, who went to Mission Bay High School but lived abroad, was a fervent supporter of the president.
Smith’s view echoes that of Charles Woods, father of Tyrone Woods, the 41-year-old former Navy SEAL from Imperial Beach who died fighting in Benghazi.
Charles Woods appeared on Fox News shows over the weekend to denounce decisions made by U.S. officials during the Libya attack.
“I’m a retired attorney, and I know that these actions legally do not constitute murder. But in my mind the people in the White House, all of them who have authority to send in reinforcements to prevent what they knew was going to be the death of my son, are guilty of murdering my son,” Woods said Sunday on Fox’s Sean Hannity show.
The older brother of Glen Doherty, a former Navy SEAL from Encinitas working as a U.S. security contractor, said Doherty and Tyrone Woods were part of the force that responded to the consulate attack.
“They rescued a bunch of people and brought them to the (consulate) annex, and then people defended the annex after Glen and Ty fell. All those people didn’t get overrun and wiped out. They had enough people to fight off that battle,” said Greg Doherty, who lives in Kensington in Northern California.
In that light, Doherty said the debate over needing more help doesn’t make sense to him, unless it might have been U.S. airstrikes against a mortar position used by attackers.
“But then you are getting into real specific strategy, and I don’t think it is civilians’ job to pick apart an actual battle and talk strategy, unless you are a general,” said Doherty, reached by telephone Thursday.
“It just seems like people are looking to direct their anger at Obama somehow.”
The debate about how the administration handled security for the Libya consulate is heating up in the week before the presidential election.
Despite that, Charles Woods, reached by U-T San Diego Thursday afternoon, said, “I don’t want this to become political and become dishonoring to Ty.”
He declined to answer any further questions.
The extended Navy SEAL community around San Diego is talking about the details of the Libya attacks.
Former SEAL Brent Gleeson, who served from 2000 to 2005, said some of the chatter is that Woods and Doherty asked for permission to respond, once bullets were flying, but they were told to stand down — also what Fox News reported.
The CIA and Defense Department have denied those reports.
Gleeson said it’s hard to speculate why Woods and Doherty might have been ordered to stay put. One possibility is that they were so outnumbered that the danger of death was great and possibility of success small.
“If they are given the green light to go in and help, and they both die, that makes the decision-maker look bad,” he said.
Gleeson said it’s debatable whether outside help might have arrived in time. Flying in troops from elsewhere would have required support on the ground.
“Logistically speaking, it’s not as black and white as people are making it sound. It’s not just, call for help and they fly in the reinforcements,” Gleeson said.
“If they fly people in, well great, how are they going to get to the target? They need vehicles. Where from? Unless the vehicles are staged there already, logistically in that situation it’s kind of a nightmare. They weren’t prepared for this, obviously.”
Calling in air support would have brought challenges, as well.
“There’s certainly the possibility of air cover, but then you are talking also about moving air assets into Libyan airspace — which would have spawned a whole other situation,” Gleeson said.
Doherty’s family has created a charitable organization in his name.