Did You Know...

   

Uncovering the Camp Bastion cover-up

Share
By Michelle Malkin  •  June 21, 2013 12:17 PM

091712-raible-atwell-500

zz562a0702-1
Photo credit: DVIDS, Cpl. Mark Garcia
Marines kneel beside the battlefield cross to pay their final respects to Sgt. Bradley Atwell during a memorial ceremony, Sept. 20. During the ceremony, Marines paid tribute to Atwell, an aircraft electrical, instrument and flight control systems technician with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16, from Kokomo, Ind. Atwell was killed in action while engaging insurgents during an attack on Camp Bastion, Sept. 14.

Uncovering the Camp Bastion cover-up
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2013

All it takes is one crack for a stone wall to start crumbling. Nine months after the deadly 9/14 raid on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, the families of two fallen Marines may finally get some answers. Real accountability, of course, is another story.

A formal internal investigation into lax security at the base — a British-run NATO compound that adjoins our Marines’ Camp Leatherneck — is now under way. A few members of Congress are putting pressure on the administration for the truth. And a couple of mainstream reporters are digging deeper.

More, please. And faster. Camp Bastion belongs in the bloody scandal lexicon with Benghazi and Fast and Furious. This trio of national security disasters under the Obama administration didn’t just involve run-of-the-mill corruption and cover-ups. It cost American lives.

As I’ve been reporting in a series of columns and blog posts over the past year, the Taliban waged an intricately coordinated, brutal attack on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan last fall — three days after the deadly siege on our consulate in Libya and after months of prior security incidents and warnings. Fifteen jihadists disguised in stolen American combat fatigues penetrated the complex. They used rocket-propelled grenades, assault rifles and other weapons to wipe out nearly an entire squadron of Marine Harrier jets worth an estimated $200 million.

Along with the most devastating loss of U.S. airpower since Vietnam, two heroic U.S. Marines — Lt. Col. Christopher Raible and Sgt. Bradley Atwell — were killed in the battle, and nearly a dozen others were injured. Military officials refused to release details of the fateful budget and strategy decisions that led to the attack. But Deborah Hatheway, aunt of Sgt. Atwell and the family’s spokesperson, and other Camp Bastion families learned on their own that their loved ones were left vulnerable to attack by military leaders who outsourced watchtower security on the base to soldiers from Tonga.

The neglect of security at Bastion was widely known. Nick Francona, a former Marine Corps Ground Intelligence Officer with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, who served as a Scout Sniper Platoon Commander in Helmand Province in 2011, recounted on Foreign Policy magazine’s The Best Defense blog in April: “It was obvious to even a casual observer that many of the posts were unmanned and were comically left with a ‘green Ivan’ silhouette target as a halfhearted attempt at deterrence.”

Francona added: “The attack only occurred because of an egregious failure in basic infantry practices. … It is painfully obvious that this attack would not have been successful, or likely even attempted, if not for multiple security failures at Leatherneck/Bastion.”

The families zeroed in on Maj. Gen. Charles “Mark” Gurganus, who recently returned to the U.S. after commanding coalition forces in Afghanistan, as the man responsible for shortchanging security at Bastion. Gurganus was the same one who ordered Marines to disarm — immediately after a failed jihadi attack on then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last year — because he wanted them “to look just like our (unarmed) Afghan partners.”

The Camp Bastion families are not the only ones scrutinizing Gurganus’ decisions. A few weeks ago, Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran reported that the U.S. military has finally launched a formal probe into whether Gurganus and his subordinates bear responsibility for lax security at Bastion. A planned promotion for Gurganus has been put on hold.

Chandrasekaran confirmed that watchtowers were indeed left to Tongans (notorious at the base for sleeping on the job). In addition, reports Chandrasekaran, “Security patrols of the perimeter, which were conducted by the Marines … had been scaled back substantially in the months leading up to the attack.” Simply blaming the Tongans, however, is not accountability. U.S. staff decisions “made it easier for the Taliban to reconnoiter the compound and then enter without resistance,” according to Chadrasekaran’s sources with direct knowledge of the incident.

While U.S. Central Command investigates, there is now movement on Capitol Hill to help Camp Bastion families whose information requests have been stymied. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., has written Marine/CENTCOM leadership on behalf of the victims’ families. (Sgt. Atwell and his family are from Indiana.) Rokita told me in a statement this week: “This is about transparency and accountability. I want to make sure that Sgt. Atwell’s family, Lt. Col. Raible’s family and the American people get the full truth about the Camp Bastion attack.”

It’s a start. But as with Benghazi and Fast and Furious, getting the truth about Camp Bastion is only half the battle. Truth without consequences is a recipe for more dead Americans.

***
Previous:

The Camp Bastion Cover-Up – May 1, 2013

Camp Bastion Families Want Answers About Afghanistan – November 14, 2012

What about the Camp Bastion attack? – October 16, 2012

Deafening silence about the Camp Bastion attack – September 28, 2012

Jihad Friday gets bloodier: Attack on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, 2 Marines reportedly killed – September 14, 2012

  • mominmich

    Getting to Marines killed and losing 200 million of aircraft wasn’t enough to stop a promotion for Mark Garganus but now that there’s an out cry its been “put on hold”. The promotion of incompetents never stops with this administration.

  • Roy Goodloe

    The Commander and Chief arranges to weaken our forces, indirectly thru Valerie Jerrett or others so that his name stays clean. Chicago politics, like Al Capone. He had Hillary give stand-down orders at Benghazi beause he wants the Muslim Brotherhood be control Libya and Egypt. We would have never viewed these countries as a threat to Israel but now we do, and are giving.armament to Egypt so they can attack Israel…are you kidding?

    Obama has not made a move in Syria because no matter what happens, Syria will cc still be a threat to Israel. Obama hates Israel, Democracy and Chritianity…because he is a Muslim and is using his office to strengthen the radical Muslims.

    He is also a pawn of George Soros whose “hobby” is ruining worldce economies…what does he care. It’s all a game. Other than Andy Stern, former President of the SEIU Union, Soros was the most frequent visitor to the Whitd House after Obama was elected. After they realized visitor records were public he started meeting Obama off-site or via SKYPE.

    CIAO’
    Roy Goodloe
    It’s Tea Time ya’ll

  • http://jericho777.wordpress.com Jeffrey Hardin

    Reblogged this on Jericho777's Blog.

  • THOMAS J. TRAINOR

    THIS IS ANOTHER APPALLING EXAMPLE OF INCOMPETENCE BY THE OBAMA REGIME WHICH WASTED THE LIVES OF MARINES WHO HAD TRAINED & DEDICATED THEMSELVES TO CONDUCT THIS COUNTRY’S WARFIGHTING OPERATIONS. THAT MAJOR GENERAL SOLD HIS INTEGRITY AND LEADERSHIP TO THE POLITICIANS AND BECAME THEIR HACK. HE SHOULD BE SEVERELY PUNISHED. – I SPEAK AS THE FATHER OF 2 MARINE CAPTAINS.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Legacy assist: Bergdahl trial delayed until after Obama’s out of office

May 18, 2016 08:35 PM by Doug Powers

obamabergdahl

Election year convenience for Dems

Let the people go: Obama commutes 61 drug, firearm sentences and will spring a dozen more from Gitmo

March 30, 2016 09:11 PM by Doug Powers

obamaprison

If you like your commutation, you can keep them

John Kerry weighs elevating ISIS threat level from ‘Contained’ to ‘Genocidal’

February 25, 2016 07:26 AM by Doug Powers

kerry9

Eventual scapegoat: Climate change

Obama calls for making America more secure by closing Gitmo and putting terror suspects in your backyard

February 23, 2016 11:35 AM by Doug Powers

obamabinocs

Smart Power™ never rests

Congress seeks answers about another Gitmo release backfire courtesy of Smart Power™

February 19, 2016 01:16 PM by Doug Powers

obamagitmo

The vetting experts strike again


Categories: Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Barack Obama, Gitmo, Iraq, Politics, Terrorist attacks

Follow me on Twitter Follow me on Facebook