The Twisted Truth on Obama's Benghazi Response
According to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, as reported at The Weekly Standard, President Obama was completely aloof from the events in Libya on September 11. He neither asked nor ordered anything. He did not respond to information sent to the White House. He was not involved at all, during the seven-plus-hour attack that resulted in the deaths of four American government employees, including an ambassador.
A few months back, when, for the sake of argument, we were all giving Obama the benefit of the doubt on being human, albeit wretchedly so, I felt compelled to qualify a critique of the president's conscienceless handling of Benghazi with this:
Was the president aware of these events during the first few of those seven long hours? Obviously, he would have been notified of such events immediately, were he available. Equally obviously, the president is always, in theory, available. If he could not be "reached" during those first hours, then the answer to the natural follow-up question -- "Why not?" -- is too twisted to contemplate.
Under questioning from Senator Kelly Ayotte, Panetta has at last set the record straight. We may all dispense with the niceties and call it as it is: Obama is too twisted to contemplate.
Repeatedly, in answer to Ayotte's probing about communications between Panetta and the White House, Panetta explains plainly that, apart from a scheduled meeting in the afternoon of September 11, he had no contact with Obama that day. The president was not involved, and did not wish to be involved, in the communications and decision-making processes of that day. An ongoing terrorist attack on his administration's diplomatic mission in a volatile region on the eleventh anniversary of September 11, 2001 was not considered worthy of his direct involvement.
Ayotte: Did he ever call you that night to say, "How are things going? What's going on?"
Panetta: No, but we were aware that as we were getting information on what was taking place there, particularly when we got information that the ambassador -- his life had been lost, we were aware that that information went to the White House.
Ayotte: Did you communicate with anyone else at the White House that night?
Ayotte: No one else called you to say, "How are things going?"
Through it all, Obama's White House simply did not respond or engage. Given the auspiciousness of the date and the seriousness of the attack, we must now ask, with the utmost gravity, "Why not?"
Remember that we are not talking about the president's weak response after the fact; the issue is what he was (or was not) doing in real time, as the event unfolded. An attack was ongoing. Distress calls were coming in. At that point, presumably, neither Obama nor anyone else in the U.S. government could have known for certain that this attack was an isolated case. It might, after all, have been one stage in a possible series of attacks. And while it was ongoing, there was, presumably, no way of knowing how the situation would develop, how large the attack force was, whether the Libyan government was complicit in the assault, or how many Americans might be in jeopardy.
And yet in spite of all this uncertainty, mayhem, and danger, Obama remained disengaged, neither responding to nor initiating any communication with his national security apparatus.
If Panetta is to be believed -- and we can only assume that if he is lying, he is doing so to protect his boss from even worse revelations -- then Obama was either completely unavailable that night (September 11!) or completely unwilling to take steps to help Americans who he knew were in the process of being killed in Benghazi.
In a semi-rational world, no government could withstand the exposure of such inhumanity, not to mention such a total failure to carry out its primary duty -- namely, to protect its citizens against foreign aggression. In our current, thoroughly irrational world, there remains little doubt that Obama will emerge unscathed from Panetta's testimony, just as Hillary Clinton will remain untarnished after openly declaring, during her own belated testimony, that the clock has run out on any attempt to unravel the administration's web of lies about Benghazi, since "What difference -- at this point -- does it make?" (I explained this here.)
Heavily armed terrorists carried out a planned attack on a U.S. ambassador. Four Americans, including the ambassador, were killed. The attack lasted for more than seven hours. The U.S. government was aware of the attack from a very early stage and was monitoring events with surveillance technology.
The secretary of defense and his military commanders did nothing. The secretary of state did nothing. The president never called to ask, "How are things going?" His previous evasions of questions about his orders and actions at the time revealed that he took no direct action in response to the attacks. We now learn that he was not even in the communication loop that night.
Thanks to Panetta's testimony, we have once again been forced to drop the veil of humanity we sometimes hold up before this administration in order to keep our sanity. ("Surely he was aware, surely he didn't simply let people die without a thought.") At last, sadly, we have been reduced by Panetta to having to wonder where Obama was that night, what he was doing, and why he was apparently unavailable to involve himself in the biggest national security emergency of his presidency.
Finally, Hillary Clinton's grotesque plea seems appropriate: "What difference -- at this point -- does it make?" Do you really want to know? Or isn't this all just too twisted to contemplate?