Last week, we alerted you to the infuriating, heart-wrenching revelation that at least three specific requests for military help from besieged Americans in Benghazi were rejected by someone in the chain of command. This decision was made despite the established fact that US officials in Tripoli, the State Department, the Pentagon and the White House were watching the horror unfold in real time, via a video feed from an unmanned drone hovering over the city. Democrats won't say if that drone was armed (and therefore capable of raining fire on the terrorists who were attacking our men and women). Why were these reinforcements refused, who specifically did the refusing, and where was the president throughout this process? These are questions being asked by US Senators, and political commentators from across the ideological spectrum. We've gotten a few answers so far. David Petraeus has emphatically denied that the CIA made this call. President Obama's Defense Secretary has hinted that the Pentagon was involved in the decision. The White House? Silence:
So here's where we are: Petraeus has made clear the CIA wasn't responsible for the decision not to act. Panetta has tried to take the responsibility himself—and the White House has seemed to encourage this interpretation of events. But Panetta's position is untenable: The Defense Department doesn't get to unilaterally decide whether it's too risky or not to try to rescue CIA operators, or to violate another country's air space. In any case, it’s inconceivable Panetta didn't raise the question of what to do when he met with the national security adviser and the president at 5 p.m. on the evening of September 11 for an hour. And it's beyond inconceivable he didn't then stay in touch with the White House after he returned to the Pentagon. So the question remains: What did President Obama do that evening (apart from spending an hour on the phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu)? What did he know, and what did he decide, and what was the basis for his decisions? Petraeus has disclaimed responsibility for the decisions of September 11. Panetta has claimed responsibility for decisions that weren't his to make. Both Petraeus and Panetta have raised more questions than they've answered. The only person who can provide the answers the American people deserve is President Obama.
The questions surrounding this preventable massacre still to outnumber the answers we've been given -- eight weeks after those four Americans were murdered. There are now rumors floating around that damning audio and emails have been leaked to two major media organizations. Here's New Gingrich sharing what he's hearing:
“There is a rumor — I want to be clear, it’s a rumor — that at least two networks have emails from the National Security Adviser’s office telling a counterterrorism group to stand down,” Gingrich said. “But they were a group in real-time trying to mobilize marines and C-130s and the fighter aircraft, and they were told explicitly by the White House stand down and do nothing. This is not a terrorist action. If that is true, and I’ve been told this by a fairly reliable U.S. senator, if that is true and comes out, I think it raises enormous questions about the president’s role, and Tom Donilon, the National Security Adviser’s role, the Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who has taken it on his own shoulders, that he said don’t go. And that is, I think, very dubious, given that the president said he had instructions they are supposed to do everything they could to secure American personnel.”
We'll see if and how that plays out. In any case, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey is appalled by the White House's lack of competence and transparency on Benghazi:
Asked about the White House's vague "fog of war" defense, Mukasey recoiled:
“That’s nonsense on stilts. There’s no evidence whatsoever that the intelligence community gave that kind of information, and there’s no basis for it. There were cameras outside that consulate. Those cameras showed an attack. There was never a demonstration. There was never anybody saying anything about a video. That was a fabrication from the start.”
Meanwhile, The Hill reports that the Obama administration has significantly slashed intelligence spending. That seems like a disastrously bad idea, all things considered. Will voters get answers about what did (or perhaps more importantly did not) happen regarding Benghazi prior to November 6? The administration's foot-drag strategy might be smart politics, but it's a national outrage and a slap in the face of people like Charlie Woods and Pat Smith.
UPDATE - I almost forgot to add this. A local news anchor in Denver grilled the president on this subject late last week. Obama danced around in his responses, clearly avoiding direct answers to direct questions: