Panetta on U.S. response to Benghazi attack: ‘This is not 911. You cannot just simply call and expect within two minutes to have a team in place. It takes time'


(CNN) – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Sunday that lack of intelligence information and logistical challenges made it difficult to respond quickly to the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last year.

Panetta said the administration had no warning about the attack, despite requests for more security from U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in the weeks leading up to the violence.

“This is not 911. You cannot just simply call and expect within two minutes to have a team in place. It takes time,” Panetta said on CNN's "State of the Union."

“We deployed,” he said. “We knew there were problems there. We moved forces into place where we could deploy them quickly if we had to. They were ready to go.”

However, he added, by the time officials got the information about the raids on the U.S. compound - which killed four Americans, including Stevens - the distance “made it very difficult to respond quickly.”

“That's just the nature of dealing with the Middle East,” said Panetta. Others in the intelligence community have frequently made similar arguments, saying they had no way of knowing the attack would happen.

Panetta said he will "probably" testify before congressional committees before he steps down form his post in the coming weeks.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that contrary to many accounts of the violence, the September 11 attack in Benghazi “wasn’t a seven-hour battle” but “two 20-minute battles separated by about six hours.”

“The idea that these were - was one continuous event is just incorrect,” he told CNN's chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.

The nearest armed U.S. aircraft, he continued, was in Djibouti, which is about the same distance from Benghazi as Washington is from Los Angeles. Read more via CNN...

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