Remember how the White House insisted for more than a week that there was “no evidence” that the sacking of the Benghazi consulate was anything more than a spontaneous demonstration over a two-month-old YouTube video that “spun out of control”? Fox News this morning reports that cables from the consulate itself made clear that they expected an attack from local militia groups in the hours before the terrorist attack that claimed the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. They also told the State Department that they had reason to believe their local security was gathering intel for the attack:
If this is the case, then why wasn’t the FEST team ready to intervene? Actually, as Allahpundit noted last night, the military and CIA did have their teams ready. Now it appears that the State Department, at least, had three hours’ notice of radical Islamist activity in the city “gathering weapons and gathering steam,” plus a very big warning about consulate security being compromised. Yet while the attack took place, no one gave the order for a military intervention. Even hours into the attack, the White House didn’t go any farther than order an evacuation effort at the Benghazi airport.
This “spontaneous demonstration” story is falling apart. And it’s interesting to see how it’s falling apart, too. Earlier, the White House tried to lay off the failure on the intel community, which sparked a flurry of leaks showing that the intel community had warned of this issue and wanted to respond during the attack. This week, the White House has started to shift blame to State, and now we’re seeing these leaks showing that State knew exactly what was going on.
This buck stops at the Oval Office, and it’s only going to be a matter of time before we get the leaks to show it. This is what Jake Tapper meant by the drip-drip-drip of Benghazi:
As of now, the White House has disclosed that President Obama was informed about the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi at roughly 5pm by his National Security Adviser Tom Donilon as he was in a pre-scheduled meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey. At that meeting, senior administration officials say, the President ordered that the U.S. begin moving military assets into the region to prepare for a range of contingencies.
But beyond that, the White House has punted, saying the Accountability Review Board established by the State Department is investigating the matter and what went wrong. No detailed tick-tock, no information about the president’s involvement in decision-making. In addition, they’re preparing for a closed-door hearing of the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence on November 15.
Without question in this hyper-partisan environment, Republicans operatives are fanning flames and creating suspicions where there’s no evidence of wrongdoing, trafficking in false rumors and idle speculation. The White House has felt the necessity to pop its head up to shoot down stories it says are false.
For instance, Tommy Vietor, the spokesman for the National Security Council, has said that despite some claims, there was no real-time video of the attack being watched in the Situation Room.
As for recent stories suggesting otherwise, Vietor says, “the White House didn’t deny any requests for assistance. Period. Moreover, what the entire government did – the White House, State Department, Intelligence Community, Department of Defense included – was to work to mobilize all available assets and move them into the region as quickly as possible. That’s what the President ordered the Secretary of Defense and Chairman to do the first time he was briefed about these issues. Many of those assets were later used to reinforce embassies in places like Yemen, Libya and Egypt.”
But that doesn’t mean the myriad questions stacking up are all political in nature, nor that those interested in answers about the Benghazi tragedy are motivated by partisan and nefarious aims.
The cover-up won’t last much longer.