It's clear that this isn't a case of Axelrod not knowing the answer to Chris Wallace's question. This is a case of Axelrod trying to side-step the question, the accurate response to which is "no." We saw reports that Obama neglected his intel briefing the day after the 9/11 Benghazi massacre; now Axe has essentially confirmed that the president didn't hold any meeting with his security team prior to jetting over to Vegas for a campaign stop on September 12:
Deliberate vagueness, plus "in contact with" weasel words, equals evasion. In addition to the transparent dodge described above, the ashen-faced senior advisor also claimed that Obama labeled the raid a terrorist attack "the day after" it occurred. He did? How interesting, because the media has reported the president didn't do any such thing for two full weeks. During a taped appearance on The View on September 24, Obama finally conceded that the facts pointed to something more organized and serious than a spontaneous protest spun out of control. "It wasn't just a mob action," he said. Two days later, the White House at last used the 'T' word in regards to the president's perception of the ambush:
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed today that the president believes the deadly assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was a “terrorist attack,” a term Obama has not yet used in his characterization of the violence. “It is our view as an administration, the president’s view, that it was a terrorist attack,” Carney told reporters.
Don't forget: Our intelligence community assessed the raid as an act of terrorism within 24 hours, so the administration's dissembling wasn't due to hazy facts. Obama kept blaming an irrelevant video and a non-existent protest for many days -- and he did so for reasons that certainly seem political. Axelrod also asserted that "anyone" would have said what UN Ambassador Rice said all over national television five days after the assassination, when she doggedly clung to the "spontaneous protest" line. Actually, "anyone" familiar with the facts available at the time would not have repeated that false story. The kitchen keeps getting hotter for the White House, as new revelations point to gross negligence, incompetence and excuse-making throughout this ordeal. Sen. Lindsay Graham, an influential member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, stepped up Republicans' "cover up" rhetoric on CBS this morning, and with good reason:
I'll leave you with two must-read pieces, and a clip. First, check out Mark Steyn's devastating deconstruction of Stephanie Cutter's "playing politics" attack on Mitt Romney. Next, read through Jennifer Rubin's ten unanswered questions on the Benghazi attack. Finally, watch Laura Ingraham raise even more questions and lambaste the media's coverage of the scandal -- with a New York Times correspondent sitting right next to her:
It will be fascinating to watch how President Obama deals with these issues when they're raised tomorrow night and next Monday. Joe Biden fed this story by contradicting known intelligence and widespread reportage. His "hey, we didn't know" excuse about inadequate security was rated his worst moment in the entire debate -- worse than his hyena-like cackling -- by CNN's focus group. Will Obama have a more compelling narrative ready? Will Mitt Romney (or the moderator) be prepared to aggressively challenge it?
UPDATE - This is the crew that our administration put in charge of consulate security, while denying requests for American reinforcements and pulling existing personnel out of the field:
Sources have told the Daily Telegraph that just five unarmed locally hired Libyans were placed on duty at the compound on eight-hour shifts under a deal that fell outside the State Department's global security contracting system. Blue Mountain, the Camarthen firm that won a $387,000 (£241,000) one year contract from the US State Department to protect the compound in May, sent just one British employee, recruited from the celebrity bodyguard circuit, to oversee the work....Other firms in the security industry expressed surprise that Blue Mountain had won a large, high profile contract from the US government. One industry executive said the level of service Blue Mountain provided did not appear adequate to the risks presented by a lawless city.
UPDATE II - A terrifying, first-hand account of what went down in Benghazi that night. I won't even try to excerpt it because it really ought to be read straight through.