Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Sunday defended the Obama administration over its handling of the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya against a growing chorus of critics.
Gates, a Republican who was originally nominated to head the Pentagon by former President George W. Bush before being retained by President Barack Obama, backed the administration’s response to the attack that left four Americans dead.
“Frankly, had I been in the job at the time, I think my decisions would have been just as theirs were,” Gates said during an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “We don’t have a ready force standing by in the Middle East, and so getting somebody there in a timely way would have been very difficult, if not impossible.”
Gates also dismissed the notion that the U.S. could have deployed a fighter jet to Libya in an effort to thwart the attackers, saying he would not have “approved sending an aircraft, a single aircraft, over Benghazi under those circumstances.”
“It’s sort of a cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces,” Gates said. “The one thing that our forces are noted for is planning and preparation before we send people in harm’s way, and there just wasn’t time to do that.”