A House report released Tuesday shows in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attacks, Department of State officials mulled over asking Marines, who were being considered for deployment, to take off their uniforms, as officials were concerned American flags on the uniforms would damage diplomatic relations in the region.
According to the 800-page report, as the situation in Benghazi was unfolding, State Department officials held a teleconference call to ostensibly decide the best response to the attacks. For a large part of the discussion, officials decided to talk about the origins of the attack, instead of weighing different rescue options.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was in charge of the call. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was also on the call.
When officials finally got to the topic of rescue plans, one State official raised the question of whether Marines on call should be deployed wearing civilian clothing, rather than military uniforms.
In response to queries from investigators, Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy justified the comments by saying the Americans flags on the uniforms of U.S. military personnel might have hampered diplomatic relations.
In reality, Marines don’t actually have American flags on their uniforms, but that didn’t stop State Department officials from debating the question.
During the investigation following the Benghazi debacle, one Marine commander told staff they continuously had to put on their uniforms, take them off and put them back on again, during the period of time when officials were considering deploying them to the area.
The report states that none of the forces available to potentially land in Benghazi met their deployment deadlines, as the “Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) sat on a plane in Rota, Spain for three hours, and changed in and out of their uniforms four times.”
In the end, the military did not deploy to Benghazi.
Four Americans died in the attack perpetrated by extremist Muslims. American Ambassador Chris Stevens was among those killed.
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