More lies, more scandal, more politics: Benghazi

Last week, I posted a timeline of events on September 11 that made clear that the White House had every reason to suspect that the assault on US facilities in Benghazi was an act of terror and not a random protest. Honestly, I believed at that moment that the morass of Obama administration lies would fizzle out. Even a team as high on the Obama cult of personality as this one had to know it was time to start owning up to what happened. Instead, the president decided again to deny that he or his staff knew anything at all, cloaking himself with indignation at the lese majesté that would permit such an inquiry:

“But I do take offense, as I’ve said at one of the debates, with some suggestion that in any way, we haven’t tried to make sure that the American people knew, as information was coming in what we believed happened.”

Let’s run this through again, with thanks to Fox News and Reuters for ground-breaking reporting. All times are Libyan (DC is six hours earlier):

•2140 on September 11: Shots are heard coming from the US consulate in Benghazi. Former SEAL Tyrone Woods hears the shots, reports, requests for help and was reportedly told to “stand down.” Two UAVs were streaming live data to any takers in the United States. Some have reported those visuals were up at the White House in real time, though that is by no means confirmed.

•2205: An email with the subject line “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack” came from the State Department’s Op Center to the White House, DoD, IC and FBI. (Emails reported by Reuters.)

•2254: An email update is sent from the Op Center subject line: “Update 1: U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi,” which reports that “the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi had stopped and the compound had been cleared.”

•2140-0000 (midnight Libyan time) on September 11: Woods and others defy order and head from a CIA annex to the consulate. They evacuate some personnel and recover the body of Sean Smith.

•0000: Another call for help because the annex is now under fire. The call reportedly went to Special Operations – a military command (and not a CIA command as some have reported). Back-up from a Spectre gunship in the area is denied. A gunner on top of the annex is targeting the source of mortar fire at the annex, and calling in coordinates but no back-up is supplied.

•0007: Another Op Center email goes out, subject line: “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack.”

•0000 – 0400 Fighting at the annex continues. Comms are available the entire time.

•0400: A mortar shell hits the annex and kills Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, who had come in from Tripoli (at the request of the CIA) in response to the initial attack.

Now let’s go back to the White House. As I wrote earlier, the president and his top aides insisted on September 12, September 13, September 14, and September 16 that what went down in Benghazi was a spontaneous attack because of a YouTube video. Only on September 19 did the director of the National Counterterrorism Center admit there was a terrorist attack that day in Libya. But that doesn’t matter to Barack Obama, who a full six days later blames the video again, this time in his address to the United Nations General Assembly.

What are the questions?

•Who gave the stand down order? The CIA denies it.

•Who received the emails obtained by Reuters?

•Was there a live stream of the attack in the Situation Room and was the president there?

•Why did the president discount the report and claim of credit that occurred during the attack?

•Who made the decision and wrote U.N. ambassador Susan Rice’s talkers for her round of the Sunday shows in which she insisted it was all about the movie?

•Why did it take the FBI three weeks to get to Benghazi?

•Why didn’t US personnel clear the consulate site, and prevent the news media from recovering Ambassador Chris Stevens’ diary?

•Why are the alleged ringleaders of the attack at large?

Now ask yourself, if the administration is willing to lie about this in the face of massive evidence of a terrorist attack, what else will they lie about in order to protect the president’s political life? Talks with Iran? Cuts to the defense budget? Unemployment? Economic growth? One wonders.


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About the Author



  • As a long-time Senate Committee on Foreign Relation senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia, Danielle Pletka was the point person on Middle East, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan issues. As the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka writes on national security matters with a focus on Iran and weapons proliferation, the Middle East, Syria, Israel and the Arab Spring. She also studies and writes about South Asia: Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.

    Pletka is the co-editor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the co-author of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011) and “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan” (AEI Press, 2012). Her most recent study, “America vs. Iran: The competition for the future of the Middle East,” was published in January 2014.


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