It only took 13 months and two weeks, but Chris Matthews now wonders why the US provided no response to the terrorist attack. Thanks to the 60 Minutes story on Sunday, the Hardball host also wonders aloud why Americans don’t have an answer to the questions of Benghazi. Perhaps that has something to do with people like Matthews, who leads off this segment by calling Benghazi a “Republican obsession,” but hey … baby steps, and all that, I guess.
Real Clear Politics has the transcript, but let’s focus on Matthews’ exchange with Time’s Jay Newton-Small. The White House, State Department, and Pentagon later claimed that no help was sent because the first attack was over and the second came hours later, which the people interviewed in the 60 Minutes piece seemed to dispute. When Newton-Small reminds Matthews of that argument, Matthews asks a rather piercing question:
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Jay Newton-Small, about the politics of this thing. I know it’s a hot opportunity for the Republicans, but my interest is on facts, and the questions I have about this are what was the State Department’s role in real time, not beforehand, but at the time of the attack in defending the lives of their people, especially the U.S. ambassador, who was a friend, a friend of the Secretary of State’s, Hillary Clinton? What was their actions, what was the tick-tock? What did they do when they got the warning of the attack?
JAY NEWTON-SMALL: Well, Hillary in her testimony before Congress said she was there, she was, you know, on the ground, in the State Department listening to the response in real time on the phone as it was happening, and so, she knew what was happening. But again, they also testified that there were waves of attacks, so they thought that, you know, after the first wave that things were quieting down. That’s when they said, well, maybe we don’t need to send help, and help was really far away. It wasn’t like it was next door. It was several hours away in Italy, so —
MATTHEWS: But the fight went on for seven hours.
NEWTON-SMALL: Yeah, but then if you’re doing it in waves, you think the attack is over and sending somebody is not going to help anymore, right? Then all of a sudden, they attack again.
MATTHEWS: I’m going to ask you something. If that what your brother or father in there, would you say that’s an acceptable response? ‘Oh, it’s probably over by now, it’s no good to send anybody.’ Or would you say, ‘I don’t care if it’s over or not, I’m going to collect the bodies if nothing else. I’m going to get there and show I cared.’ That’s what I’d do.
NEWTON-SMALL: These are questions that Hillary will have to answer if she runs for president in 2016 —
MATTHEWS: And the president and the National Security Adviser and everybody sitting in that Situation Room. We had lots of coverage of people when we killed bin Laden, we had a lot of coverage of that. There’s a lot of photographers around during that. How come this is shrouded in mystery? What I can’t understand is all these months later we’re still trying to figure out what happened. I just want to know, as an American, what happened? Did everybody do what they were supposed to do? Did everybody make a really good desperate effort to save the lives of our people over there or didn’t they? If they didn’t, that’s a problem, but I want an answer.
We’ve been demanding answers for the past 13 months. For that, Matthews has dismissed us as “obsessives.” It’s good to see that Matthews has finally found some indignation over the mendacity and opacity of the Obama administration about an al-Qaeda terrorist attack that cost four American lives on the anniversary of 9/11 in a part of the world that the US helped make Terrorist Central, but perhaps Matthews might want to update his graphics a bit. In the meantime, Matthews wins the Bruce Willis Punctuality Award: