If former CIA Director David Petraeus and his ex-deputy Michael Morell are recalled to testify on Benghazi, they can expect hard questions about the mortar attack on the CIA annex which killed two former Navy SEALs.
Republican Mike Rogers, chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee, is weighing whether to recall one or both of those officials over their Benghazi congressional testimony.
Rogers said the evidence suggests a highly skilled team carried out the mortar strike. Fox News has confirmed five rounds were fired in under a minute, with three hitting the annex roof — a target roughly the size of two convenience stores.
“This was exceptionally good shooting. It was clearly accurate. They adjusted their fire, which is a term a mortar crew might use, so they went a little long and a little short and they fired for effect,” Rogers said. “When you fire for effect and you have three rounds hit exactly where they were intended that ended up taking the lives of our American heroes there, that tells me that they knew exactly what they were doing. So that was either significantly preplanned, or it was a mortar crew that was exceptionally good.”
In addition to Rogers’ assessment, military experts say the mortar strike on the CIA base was evidence of a planned terror attack, and because it forced the evacuation of the annex, it must have been known immediately in Washington. But in a letter to the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in January 2013,Morell said “the nature of the attacks suggested they did not involve significant pre-planning.”
Mortar crews have specialized training to prepare rounds for launch which includes calculations for distance, direction and altitude. Mortars are called “indirect fire” because in most cases, especially urban environments like Benghazi, the crew can’t see the target.
A U.S. official familiar with the investigation said an early lead on the mortar site, a field a half -mile southeast of the annex, did not pan out in part because a forensic review showed the mortars were fired from a greater distance.
Given the accuracy, and the fact the rounds were fired in darkness, five military officers, including retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, concluded the terrorists pre-set the location.
“For this mortar crew to put three rounds of the first five — right on target — means to me that even in the day of GPS … the site for the mortar had to be pre-selected,”Peters explained.”That would be a good score for a U.S. infantry, well-trained mortar crew.”
Retired Army Gen. Bob Scales, who has written extensively on artillery fire, concurred. “This took an enormous amount of planning, an enormous amount of training. It required preparation at a firing point, not only the mortar but also the ammunition, and something like this can’t be done overnight. This is something that probably took weeks in preparation in order to pull it off.”
Separately, Morell is accused by Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee of misleading lawmakers over the White House’s role in the so-called Benghazi talking points by stating the text was provided to the administration for their awareness, not for their input. Emails later released by the administration showed otherwise. Morell, who excised half of the talking points text, previously told Fox News that “neither the Agency, the analysts, nor I cooked the books in any way.”
Read more at Fox News
- BENGHAZI: THE TERRORIST ATTACK OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2012 (discoverthenetworks.org)