On the White House Web site, the president’s calendar for September 10, 2012 — the day before the Benghazi, Libya, attack — is blank and and the daily press guidance says “The President has no public events scheduled.”
But the president did have an important meeting that day. In an e-mail exchange over President Obama’s record of skipping his daily intelligence meetings, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor wrote me the following:
I’d also note that this focus on just the PDB and not the countless other NSC meetings the President has each week really misses the point. For example, the President had a briefing with the Principals Committee to review 9/11 threats and mitigation efforts on September 10th. Seems like a relevant data point for you[r] piece. [Emphasis added].
The fact that “the President had a briefing with the Principals Committee to review 9/11 threats and mitigation efforts on September 10th” raises a whole host of new questions:
● What was the president told in that briefing about “9/11 threats and mitigation efforts” in Libya?
● The New York Times reports that “In the months leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, the Obama administration received intelligence reports that Islamic extremist groups were operating training camps in the mountains near the Libyan city and that some of the fighters were ‘Al Qaeda-leaning.’ ” Was the president briefed on those reports at the NSC principals meeting?
● The Times further reports that “a week before Mr. Stevens died, the American Embassy warned that Libyan officials had declared a ‘state of maximum alert’ in Benghazi.” Was the president told of this assessment by Libyan officials of the state of security in Benghazi at the 9/10 meeting?
● U.S. diplomats in Libya made numerous requests for additional security. The president claims he was not “personally aware” of those requests.Well, was there any discussion of those requests in the NSC principals committee meeting on September 10th?
If the NSC Principals Committee did not discuss Libya as part of their briefing on “9/11 threats and mitigation efforts,” then it would seem to be an example of gross negligence. If they did discuss Libya, then Americans deserve to know what they told the president about the security situation in that country one day before our ambassador was killed. And if the president was in fact briefed on the growing al-Qaeda threat in Benghazi a day before the attack, it would further call into question the administration’s efforts to blame the attack on a YouTube video.
The only way to answer these questions is for the administration to release the records relating to the September 10 NSC meeting — including any briefing slides or papers prepared for the meeting. Those records will tell us a great deal about what the president knew — and when he knew it.