Guy Benson

Last week, Lindsey Graham's unrelenting line of questioning compelled Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to confirm under oath that not a single military asset was deployed to help rescue besieged US personnel in the course of a terrorist raid in Benghazi, Libya.  The September 11, 2012 attack lasted nearly eight hours, during which four Americans died, including our sitting ambassador.  Multiple requests for increased security in the weeks and months leading up to the massacre were denied.  Urgent warnings that the Benghazi consulate couldn't withstand a sustained attack were ignored.  (The compound didn't even meet minimum security standards for American diplomatic outposts anywhere in the world).  An eleventh-hour cable accurately predicting an imminent attack resulted in...nothing.  Explicit calls for help during the prolonged raid went unheeded amidst a flurry of "stand down" orders.  One of many lingering questions regarding this outrageous episode is what our Commander-in-Chief was doing throughout the ordeal, during which America's real-time response was evidently paralyzed by chaotic indecision.  Yesterday, the White House finally shed some light on this question by releasing a letter describing what President Obama was not doing as American diplomats' lives hung in the balance:
 

President Obama didn’t make any phone calls the night of the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the White House said in a letter to Congress released Thursday. “During the entire attack, the president of the United States never picked up the phone to put the weight of his office in the mix,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, who had held up Mr. Obama’s defense secretary nominee to force the information to be released. Mr. Graham said that if Mr. Obama had picked up the phone, at least two of the Americans killed in the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi might still be alive because he might have been able to push U.S. aid to get to the scene faster. The White House has said Mr. Obama was kept up to date on the attack by his staff, though after being alerted to the attack in a pre-scheduled afternoon meeting he never spoke again with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin E. Dempsey or then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.


And there's this, which (a) re-confirms what we've known for some time, and (b) begs the question of why the administration approved false talking points for public consumption:
 

Mr. Panetta told Congress last week that he knew immediately the attacks were a terrorist assault, though the White House downplayed that notion in the first five days after the attack.


Who conceived of the false talking points and why were they employed at all, let alone for days?  Why were requests for security upgrades repeatedly turned down, especially since our intelligence knew of at least ten active jihadi groups operating in Benghazi at the time?  If the Commander-in-Chief wasn't in contact with his top people throughout the raid, and if he wasn't ordering the full might of the United States military into motion to protect the lives of our diplomats (which he's claimed is his "number one" priority), what was he doing over those eight hours?  Our only clue is a campaign rally in Las Vegas the next day, which the president attended as scheduled -- having blown off another daily intelligence briefing, which was a habitual occurrence.  That these questions have not been sufficiently answered -- or even asked, in some cases -- is less a product of masterful White House stonewalling as it is a profoundly vexing indictment of our media.

But hey, "what difference does it make?"

 

(Editor's Note: This item is cross-posted at HotAir.com's Green Room).


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography