On Monday, U.S. military officials denied claims from a Washington Times blog that Gen. Carter Ham, former head of U.S. Africa command, may have been fired due to an intent to disobey defense secretary Leon Panetta's order to "stand down" while the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi were underway.
This story is gathering steam as Charlie Woods, father of slain Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, went on the Glenn Beck show this past weekend to claim that President Barack Obama had shown no remorse for his son's death during their meeting.
Over the weekend, a source inside the Pentagon informed Times reporter James Robbins that Gen. Ham wanted to send special forces units to help Americans under siege in Libya despite orders from Sec. Panetta to stand down. Ham was supposedly relieved of his command by a junior officer just before Ham was to order the rescue mission.
On Oct. 18, defense secretary Leon Panetta and the Army announced that Pres. Obama "had nominated Gen. David M. Rodriguez to succeed Gen. Carter F. Ham as the commander of U.S. Africa Command." Gen. Ham retired after nearly four decades of distinguished military service. He is a few years short of the mandatory retirement age of 64, fueling speculations that the general was fired.
On Monday, Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, released the following statement to the Washington Times:
“The speculation that General Carter Ham is departing Africa Command (AFRICOM) due to events in Benghazi, Libya on 11 September 2012 is absolutely false. General Ham's departure is part of routine succession planning that has been on going since July."
The speculation that General Carter Ham is departing Africa Command (AFRICOM) due to events in Benghazi, Libya on 11 September 2012 is absolutely false. General Ham's departure is part of routine succession planning that has been on going since July.
On Sunday, former House speaker New Gingrich appeared on ABC News and suggested that Panetta may have disobeyed Obama's direct order to send in military help to the American consulate in Libya.
Obama has maintained that he ordered security aid to the trapped Americans. However, it now appears that Sec. Panetta never carried out those orders. Many Republicans are charging that either the commander-in-chief lied about his response to the incident or the secretary of defense disobeyed a presidential order.