Marine awarded secret Navy Cross for service in Benghazi attack

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A Marine who was part of the rescue team sent to relieve besieged Americans during last year’s attack in Benghazi, Libya, was awarded the Navy Cross – one of the military’s highest medals — in a secret ceremony, the Washington Times reported Sunday.

The unidentified Marine is a member of Delta Force, the Special Forces unit under the Joint Special Operations Command, the Times reported. Most Delta Force members are in the Army, but some members of other services qualify.

benghazi11117The Marine and another Delta Force member – from the Army, according to the Times report – were in a team of seven dispatched from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli on Sept. 11, 2012, to rescue American diplomats, security personnel and CIA workers from the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

The soldier received a Distinguished Service Cross for his actions, the Times reported.

The Times had previously reported the men had received medals for their service but not how highly ranked the medals were.

The Navy Cross and the Distinguished Service Cross are second only to the Medal of Honor formilitary valor.

In a statement to the Times, the Navy confirmed the Navy Cross had been awarded, but declined to provide further details, citing security concerns.

“Yes, a Navy Cross was approved, but due to security and privacy concerns no further information can be provided at this time. It is not unusual for certain awards not to be publicized, and details of the circumstances and actions that justified the award to be withheld,” the statement said. “Per DoD regulations, this information will not be released if it could potentially lead to a compromise of national security, or potentially create undue risk to the security and privacy of the awardee and his/her family.”

There’s no doubt that plenty of medals have been awarded secretly. The nature of Special Forces operations requires a shroud of secrecy that extends even to awards for bravery in the service of the country.

But the nature of Benghazi is different.

The Benghazi attack has been shrouded in lies for more than a year, first by the politics of an incumbent in a tight re-election campaign, then by the politics of lying about the lies in the first place.

And considering that the Defense Department is run by a political embarrassment named Chuck Hagel, it’s a pretty good bet that the “undue risk” to security didn’t just involve the recipient of the award.

The political risk is undeniable. For this White House, it’s all too real.

Heroes deserve better than that.

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