Here is Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta being question by Senator Kelly Ayotte on Thursday:
So, according to Panetta, while Barack Obama knew that something was happening in Benghazi, he was not a part of the decision-making process, and showed no interest in what was going on, even after the White House was informed of Ambassador Steven’s death.
During the same hearing, Senator Ted Cruz questioned both Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as to whether Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was part of the process:
They both affirm that they never talked with her that day.
Finally, Senator John McCain asked Dempsey why the military had not tried to help out in Benghazi. This was his answer:
He claims that while he had heard second-hand that Ambassador Stevens had asked for military help, he was unable to act because they needed an official request from the State Department, and that request never came.
Something is dreadfully wrong here.
Previous reports from the White House have placed both Obama and Clinton in the loop and engaged in what was going on in Benghazi, with Obama in the Situation Room in conference with Panetta and Dempsey during part of that time. Further, as proof that Obama was engaged in what was going on in Benghazi, the White House even posted a photo of Obama speaking with Panetta and the national security team in the Oval Office on September 11, and one can clearly see that it is dusk outside (which would put the photo after 7:30 p.m.). Yet, Panetta claims that the only time he talked to Obama that day was at a regularly scheduled 5 p.m. meeting, a meeting that was not about Benghazi.
We also know that there was a flurry of e-mails and cables being sent throughout the highest levels of the DOD, State Department, WH, and national security apparatus. While it is possible that some of these communications conflicted as to what was going on in Benghazi, the ones that have been leaked paint a clear picture of a US facility under attack and men’s lives hanging in the balance. Further, there was at least one drone flying overhead sending live video of the attack to the Situation Room, and Dempsey himself admits knowing that Stevens had asked for military assistance. Yet, Panetta claims that they could not act because they were uncertain as to what was going on. Even if this were true (and that seems very hard to believe), based upon what information they had, surely they should have met with Obama and had a video conference with Clinton, yet their testimony indicates that Obama was uninterested in what was going on, and that they never heard from Clinton.
Finally, the White House report into what happened in Benghazi stated that no military assistance was sent because they had no military assets available, even though there was a special ops team in Italy, two hours away by air. However, while Dempsey defended the White House report, he states in his testimony that the primary reason no assistance was sent was that they received no formal request from the State Department.
It is hard to assess the testimony of these two men. If they are telling the truth, then this is further evidence that everything the Obama White House has said about Benghazi is a lie. It also represents gross dereliction of duty and incompetence on the part of both Obama and Clinton, as they had the ultimate decision-making authority in this situation, but Obama was uninterested and Clinton was AWOL–presumably she did not bother to check her e-mail and told everyone that she did not want to be disturbed, regardless of what was happening.
Another possibility is that Panetta and Dempsey were both lying in their testimony. But then why would they lie if their lies paint such a bad picture of Obama and Clinton? Because the truth is so much worse. In this scenario, Obama is engaged, but decides that they should do nothing because of the possible political cost to his re-election campaign. They can just blame it all on a video that no one has seen, and the press will buy into this story. Clinton knows what is going on, but is unwilling to take a risk on her own without cover from the White House, and is unwilling to throw Obama under the bus, and so decides to go into CYA mode and dump the whole mess in Obama’s lap and let him deal with what happened and the fall-out. If Panetta and Dempsey wanted to cover for Obama and Clinton under this circumstance, about the only plausible thing they could say would be that neither Obama nor Clinton were fully briefed or involved in the decision-making process. Surely, they could not with a straight face stand completely by the fairy tales Obama and his team have been spinning.
The latter possibility was actually the second narrative after the fib about the video fell apart. The Obama campaign and the state-run media fought hard against it prior to the election. It now seems that they have resorted to the scoundrels’ last defense–the defense that they are not evil, but just incompetent.
But as everyone should know, stupidity is no excuse. If Obama is this detached and incompetent, he has a duty to resign.