None of that makes any sense. It’s inconceivable that the top three U.S. officials who would be accountable for the American lives and property at Benghazi would not communicate with each other during an ongoing attack. If she had nothing to hide, Clinton should have been climbing the walls until Obama authorized a serious and forceful response to rescue her friend Chris Stevens. Panetta should have been responding to Obama’s orders to bring our people home if possible, or disperse or kill the attackers if it wasn’t.

Yet Panetta says that after the 5 p.m. meeting he never communicated with either Obama or Clinton. If this is true, were they not derelict in their duties? Obama cannot have been unaware of the scale of the attack: We had a drone overhead and security cameras on the ground, and our forces on the ground were telling Washington what was happening. The fog of war was not very thick.

When the Benghazi attack occurred, Barack Obama was less than two months away from his reckoning with the voters. The polls were tight and any event could have moved them one way or the other. Mitt Romney had sewn up the GOP nomination and was flexing his muscle as a fundraiser. He had outfoxed Obama’s campaign a couple of times, pushing Solyndra into the headlines and even getting into David Axelrod’s grill and under his skin at an event in Boston.

Obama could not run on the economy or his signature legislative achievement, ObamaCare. His campaign had built a narrative of the president as an effective commander-in-chief who had killed Osama bin Laden and put al Qaeda on the run. “Osama is dead and GM is alive!” was Vice President Joe Biden’s favorite sentence. Other than the fact of bin Laden’s demise, this was not a national security fact; it was a political narrative aimed at getting Obama re-elected. Al Qaeda had in fact begun to cement a new relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt and had grown in influence in Libya and across the Middle East. Its Libya brand, Ansar al-Sharia, had become a threat in the Benghazi area itself the summer leading up to the attack. Ansar al-Sharia was the author of the attack in Benghazi.

Here is a theory regarding Obama’s, Panetta’s, and Clinton’s actions that night.