Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta defended the lack of military intervention during the attack on the US mission in Benghazi last September, saying it was “a problem of distance and time.”
Panetta is making his final appearance on Capitol Hill as Secretary of Defense; President Obama has nominated former Senator Chuck Hagel to become his successor. “The United States military is not and should not be a global 911 service capable of arriving on the scene within minutes to every possible contingency around the world,” Panetta told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), the committee’s top Republican, expressed concern that the Obama administration was involved in a cover-up of the terrorist attack, most notably when Ambassador Susan Rice went on Sunday talk shows and attributed the violence to a demonstration gone wrong.
Panetta also forcefully spoke out against the coming sequestration defense cuts and urged Congress to act. “This will badly damage our national defense and compromise our ability to respond to crises in a dangerous world,” he said.