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Right Turn
Posted at 09:30 AM ET, 11/02/2012

Media discover Benghazi, notice Obama stonewalling

Well, it finally happened. The mainstream media have figured out that Benghazi is a big story and potentially a serious national security scandal. After weeks of silence, a plethora of mainstream media news stories have popped.

As he has from the get-go, Eli Lake makes news, writing: “On the night of the 9/11 anniversary assault at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, the Americans defending the compound and a nearby CIA annex were severely outmanned. Nonetheless, the State Department never requested military backup that evening, two senior U.S. officials familiar with the details of military planning tell The Daily Beast.” Lake observes that although assets likely would not have arrived in time to save Ambassador Chris Stevens, “military backup may have made a difference at around five the following morning, when a second wave of attackers assaulted the CIA annex where embassy personnel had taken refuge. It was during this second wave of attacks that two ex-SEALs working for the CIA’s security teams — Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods — were killed in a mortar strike.”

However, Lake is no longer the only reporter hammering away at the case.

CBS News reports: “CBS News has learned that during the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Obama Administration did not convene its top interagency counterterrorism resource: the Counterterrorism Security Group (CSG). ‘The CSG is the one group that’s supposed to know what resources every agency has. They know of multiple options and have the ability to coordinate counterterrorism assets across all the agencies,’ a high-ranking government official told CBS News. ‘They were not allowed to do their job. They were not called upon.’ ”

As conservative critics have pointed out for weeks, the White House cover story didn’t match the information held by intelligence agencies:

In the days after the assault, counterterrorism officials expressed dismay over what they interpreted as the Obama Administration’s unwillingness to acknowledge that the attack was terrorism; and their opinion that resources which could have helped were excluded.
Counterterrorism officials from two agencies said they concluded almost immediately that the attack was by terrorists and was not spontaneous. “I came to this conclusion as soon as I heard the mortar rounds were impacting on top of the building our people were occupying,” says one. “The position of the mortar must be plotted on a map, the target would have to be plotted, computations would be calculated that would result in the proper mortar tube elevation and the correct number of powder bags to be attached to the rounds.”

ABC’s Jake Tapper says that the White House is stalling, refusing to come forward with a clear explanation of the president’s role:

In the place of a detailed description from the Obama administration about what happened more than six weeks ago comes the drip-drip-drip of stories about the failures of the Obama administration to provide those Americans on the ground in Libya with all the security assets they needed.
ABC News broke some stories on this, ranging from a security team being denied continued use of an airplane its commander wanted to keep in country to better do his job; to the security team leaving Libya before Ambassador Stevens wanted it to.
Fox News Channel’s Catherine Herridge last night reported on a newly discovered cable indicating that in August, less than a month before the attack, the diplomatic post in Benghazi convened an “emergency meeting” concerned about local Al Qaeda training camps. Said the cable: “RSO (Regional Security Officer) expressed concerns with the ability to defend Post in the event of a coordinated attack due to limited manpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support, and the overall size of the compound.”

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, reveals the heavy presence of the CIA in Benghazi, painting a picture of confusion and lack of coordination between CIA and the State Department. It raised the question of why Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, rather than CIA chief David Petraeus, stepped forward to take the blame for the Benghazi fiasco.

The Post’s David Ignatius is out with a similar account and timeline, arguing, “While there were multiple errors that led to the final tragedy, there’s no evidence that the White House or CIA leadership deliberately delayed or impeded rescue efforts.”

All of this raises the question: What was the president doing and was he even involved throughout the crisis? The president still hasn’t explained why he clung to the anti-Muslim video as the trigger for the attacks long after the intelligence community had determined it was an organized jihadist attack. (Given the heavy presence of CIA operatives at the scene, it makes it even more obvious that senior officials knew the attack was a coordinated assault, not a spontaneous reaction to the film.) President Obama still has not explained how it could have escaped notice that Libya had become a haven for terrorists. In fact, the president has behaved throughout as a candidate trying to avoid blame instead of a commander-in-chief and chief executive who is transparent in his actions and accountable to the American people.

Obama would no doubt like us to think of him strutting around disaster areas in New Jersey and New York, brow furrowed and telling people to answer their phones. But the job there is for the governors and local authorities. His job is not Sandy cleanup but national security. It is not a job he has fulfilled sufficiently, so no wonder he’d rather don his leather jacket (presidential seal-embossed, naturally) and hang out with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Briefings! Reports! On-site investigations!

Meanwhile, who was answering the phone at the White House on 9/11/2012? Who was briefing Obama , and how did he get the facts wrong for so long? Why did he go to Las Vegas after Benghazi but cancel campaigning after Sandy (hint: proximity to Election Day)?

We’ll have to wait for a special investigator, a bipartisan commission, a Senate investigation or a new president, I suspect, to get to the bottom of it. Obama will never cough up the facts voluntarily.

By  |  09:30 AM ET, 11/02/2012

 
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