For the good of the republic, Kerry Ladka must leave his job with Global Telecom Supply in Mineola, N.Y., and take up residence in the White House briefing room. Because, as it turns out, this 61-year-old undecided voter showed great skill in getting some much-needed candor out of the president on Benghazi.
At Tuesday night’s presidential debate, Ladka stood up and asked about rejected requests for greater diplomatic security in Libya. “Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?” asked Ladka, who said that the question had come from the “braintrust of my friends at Global Telecom Supply in Mineola.” Wherever the question came from, it went nowhere with Obama, who used every grain of his political savvy to avoid addressing it. The public would have to wait.
Ladka, however, wouldn’t. As reported in this space yesterday, Ladka received a personal briefing from the president on Libya right after the debate concluded, perhaps because Obama realized he hadn’t answered the guy’s question and disrespected the Mineola braintrust. According to Ladka, here’s how the discussion proceeded:
He basically explained to me why he delayed calling it a terrorist attack. He said he wanted to be deliberate and make sure that the intelligence he was acting on was real intelligence and not disinformation because he felt that anything he did in that region of the world — if he did it based on errorneous facts and information, it would be more damaging that [the event itself]. . . . He was concerned that it could have been misinformation or wrong information.
So: Moments after telling a national TV audience that the day after Benghazi he’d called it an “act of terror” in the Rose Garden, he was explaining to Ladka why he’d held off on calling it a terrorist attack. Fun.
The president also explained to Ladka that he didn’t want to identify the person at the State Department who’d turned down the request for heightened security because doing so would expose that person to harm.
If all that has the feel of news, it should. Have a look at the wonderful Glenn Kessler timeline of Obama administration statements about Benghazi. It reveals that President Obama said this about the situation in a Sept. 20 Univision appearance:
OBAMA: “Well, we’re still doing an investigation, and there are going to be different circumstances in different countries. And so I don’t want to speak to something until we have all the information. What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.”
And this in a Sept. 25 appearance on ABC’s “The View”:
QUESTION: “I heard Hillary Clinton say it was an act of terrorism. Is it? What do you say?”
OBAMA: “We are still doing an investigation. There is no doubt that the kind of weapons that were used, the ongoing assault, that it wasn’t just a mob action. Now, we don’t have all the information yet so we are still gathering.”
What a tribute to the sway of the Mineola braintrust: It gets a greater accounting from the president than does the American public.