“This tragedy turned into a debacle and massive coverup or massive incompetence in Libya is having an effect on the voters because of their view of the commander in chief,” McCain said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And it is now the worst coverup or incompetence that I have ever observed in my life.”…
“I don’t know if it’s either coverup or gross — the worst kind of incompetence, which doesn’t qualify the president as commander in chief,” McCain said…
“Somebody said to me the other day, ‘This is as bad as Watergate.’ Nobody died in Watergate,” McCain said.
Ohio senator Rob Portman talked on Fox News Sunday about a “shocking breakdown” with regard to the Obama administration’s response:
This is not about politics. This is about a huge national security issue that affects all of us and there was a shocking breakdown, operationally, not to have the security there in the first place. And then not to respond to these guys, in their pleas for help for 7 hours, during a firefight. It’s unbelievable and now, we are hearing that the president of the United States, based on his own words, issued a directive immediately after he found out about the firefight, saying that he wanted to be sure those people on the ground were safe and they were getting what they needed. It didn’t happen. This means either that the president’s order was not followed, which would be a breakdown in terms of the White House procedure, or, it means the order wasn’t issued. We need to find out about this, it is not about politics, it is a very serious situation. After the fact, of course, there’s also been a lot of confusion about what happened and why it happened.
It seems obvious that Panetta is trying protect Obama from responsibility for the Administration’s Benghazi response. I don’t think that works. The decision to outsource the call is still a presidential decision.
But there are two problems bigger problems with the Panetta doctrine. First, Panetta says they didn’t have real-time information. Uh, if having a live video feed and real-time reports from assets on the ground for hours doesn’t count as real time information, what does? And, if as rumors suggest, the drones monitoring the situation were armed, the idea that the administration was trying to avoid some kind of “black hawk down” situation seems incomprehensible.
Which brings us to the second, I think bigger, problem with the Panetta doctrine. If the circumstances in Libya didn’t meet the “enough information” threshold for a rescue attempt or some other form of intervention, then what does?
While Americans were under assault in Benghazi, the president found time for a non-urgent, politically useful, hour-long call to Prime Minister Netanyahu. And his senior national staff had to find time to arrange the call, brief the president for the call, monitor it, and provide an immediate read-out to the media. I suspect Prime Minister Netanyahu, of all people, would have understood the need to postpone or shorten the phone call if he were told that Americans were under attack as the president chatted. But for President Obama, a politically useful telephone call—and the ability to have his aides rush out and tell the media about that phone call—came first.
So here are a few more questions for the White House: While President Obama was on the phone for an hour, did his national security advisor Tom Donilon or any other aide interrupt the call or slip him a piece of paper to inform him about what was happening in Benghazi? Or was President Obama out of the loop for at least an hour as events unfolded and decisions were made? On the other hand, national security staff were obviously with the president during and immediately after the phone call—otherwise how could they have put out their statement right away? Surely his aides told the president about what was happening in Benghazi. Was there then no discussion of what was or what wasn’t being done to help, pursuant to the president’s first directive that everything possible be done?
We know this much: What Barack Obama said is unambiguously false. Members of his administration have not provided information to the American people about Benghazi as they have received it. And in many instances, the opposite has been true. The Obama administration has used every means at its disposal to avoid sharing information about the Benghazi attacks—not only with the American people, but with Congress, too.
Sources tell The Weekly Standard that the administration is ignoring—or denying—routine requests for information from the congressional committees with oversight on national security. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” says one congressional Republican. “Basic questions—unanswered for literally weeks.”
One could argue that this is good news. An administration refusing to provide information about the attacks is an administration that isn’t providing misleading information about those attacks. And that’s what the American public got for the better part of four weeks.
“Why didn’t Governor Romney prosecute the case on Benghazi? Pat, and everybody else has been fulminating about it for the last two weeks. He wisely stayed away from that because it’s a pretty made-up story, frankly, and he’s going to leave that to surrogates,” Eleanor Clift said about the controversy surrounding the terror attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya…
“They’re trying to pretend that the White House was lying and covering up, which shows the complete ignorance of how intelligence is gathered and how government operates,” Clift said.
Later on in the show, Wallace put a similar question to Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA): “I can understand how it would be politically embarrassing for the administration if it turns out the drones were armed and weapons not fired when the U.S. americans were under attack for 7 hours, but I can’t understand how it would give up valuable intelligence. Can you tell me directly: were the drones armed or not that were flying over Benghazi?”
Warner offered no comment: “This member of the Senate Intelligence Committee is not going to make any comments on drones on the record, off-the-record or anywhere else.”
Via the Daily Caller.