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by
Bridget Johnson

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February 7, 2014 - 8:35 am

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) penned some questions to President Obama yesterday on the Benghazi terror attack, saying that his recent interview with Bill O’Reilly raised “more questions than it answers” about the deaths of four Americans at the diplomatic facility.

From the senators’ letter:

First, in your interview with O’Reilly, you said, “In the aftermath what became clear was that the security was lax, that not all the precautions that needed to be taken were taken.”  We agree with your assessment, which is substantiated by the terrorist attack itself as well as multiple reports.  The recent bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report concluded that the intelligence community provided “ample strategic warning” that our people in Benghazi were at risk.  Yet, the State Department under your leadership and the leadership of Secretary Clinton ignored those warnings and failed on multiple levels to either increase security sufficiently or close the diplomatic facility in Benghazi.

Despite this, on the Sunday shows on September 16, Susan Rice said, “Well, we obviously did have a strong security presence…”  She also called the security “substantial” and “significant”.  Can you explain why your administration’s designated spokesperson made statements so inconsistent with the facts and with your view?

Second, during the interview you said, “…understand by definition, Bill, when somebody is attacking our compound…that’s an act of terror, which is how I characterized it the day after it happened.”  While you made an ambiguous reference to “acts of terror” on September 12, later that day, when asked by Steve Kroft on 60 minutes why you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism, you responded by saying, “Well it’s too early to tell exactly how this came about…”  Can you explain this apparent contradiction?

Your unwillingness to describe the attack in Benghazi as a terrorist attack is especially troubling given the fact that your Secretary of Defense at the time, Leon Panetta, said, “there was no question in my mind it was a terrorist attack…when I appeared before this committee three days afterwards, I said it was a terrorist attack.”  In addition, your Central Intelligence Agency Director at the time, General David Petraeus, is reported to have said he knew it was a terrorist attack from the beginning.

Third, you said during the O’Reilly interview that “…the notion that we would hide the ball for political purposes when a week later we all said in fact there was a terrorist attack taking place the day after I said it was an act of terror, that wouldn’t be a very good cover-up.”  This statement is inconsistent with the facts.  On September 24—almost two weeks after the terrorist attack—you were asked the following question on The View:  “I heard Hillary Clinton say it was an act of terrorism. Is it? What do you say?”  You responded saying, “We’re still doing an investigation. There’s no doubt that (with) the kind of weapons that were used, the ongoing assault, that it wasn’t just a mob action. We don’t have all the information yet, so we’re still gathering it.”  If a week later you and your administration were admitting the events in Benghazi represented a terrorist attack, why did you refuse to say so almost two weeks after the attack and instead say, “We’re still doing an investigation”?

Fourth, for more than a week after the attack, your administration continued to blame the terrorist attack on the hateful video and a supposed protest.  As late as September 20—9 days after the terrorist attack—you said, “What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.”

Yet, the bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report concluded that, “Contrary to many press reports at the time, eyewitness statements by U.S. personnel indicate that there were no protests at the start of the attacks.”  And on September 15, 2012, the CIA’s Chief of Station in Tripoli sent to the then-Deputy Director of the ClA and others at the CIA an email that reported the attacks were “not/not an escalation of protests.”

Can you explain why you continued to cite the video and protests as the cause for the attack when your administration knew from eyewitnesses within days of the attack that there were no protests and your CIA Deputy Director was informed on September 15 that the attacks were not an escalation of protests? Did the FBI and CIA not share this information with you?

Finally, on September 12, in the Rose Garden, you said, “We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done.”  Yet, in almost 17 months, none of the terrorists have been brought to justice.  The families of the murdered Americans deserve to see the terrorists brought to justice.  Moreover, terrorists around the world need to know that if they kill Americans, we will hunt them down and bring them to justice.  Allowing terrorists apparently involved in the attack to sit and give interviews in cafés sends a dangerous message that there are no consequences for killing Americans.

The senators “respectfully” asked the president to answer all of their questions.

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
All Comments   (12)
All Comments   (12)
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"A new subject, please". Hell no, Keep Benghazi fresh in all Americans' minds. Americans were not protected, and in fact congressional testimony showed that three protective teams were reduced to one. Two American former Seals died on the CIA compound roof top EIGHT HOURS after the attack began. Gen. Ham reported it as a terrorist attack immediately and informed Panetta who immediately informed Obama. These two, at least , could have been saved. They were ABANDONED. Don't ever stop accusing Obama and Clinton, and dermanding they explain their actions during those eight hours. Hound them to their graves. As an ex-military I am more outraged by Beghazi than a thousand IRS and NASA scandals.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
2013: HOW ALTERNATIVE MEDIA INFLUENCED THE YEAR OF AWAKENING by Mikael Thalen December 31st, 2013

http://www.storyleak.com/2013-year-awakening/
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
What's to deconstruct?

Every word the man says is a lie. You can't deconstruct quicksand.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
McCain is a bit late to the party, isn't he?
When will the Repubs can this lame pseudo?
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
OOPS !! Been there, done that. Sorry.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
We continue to kick the dead horses that are beginning to stink. Obama and Clinton are fakes, criminals, liars and cheats. We all know it. We can't fix it unless the opposition in office gets their acts together. And unless the elections are more
honest and less dead voters' votes are counted. A new subject please.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama's honest answer: "The answers to your questions are really very simple and straightforward. I was lying then, I was lying to O'Reilly, and to the people of the United States. I will continue to lie to the American people, because the stupid hopeychangers always believe what I say, even when their own eyes and ears tell them that I am lying, and they far outnumber those who realize that I am lying whenever I am speaking. It's a foolproof system!"
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama, Clinton, other dead horses we continue to kick, are beginning to stink. Can we now all agree to a new subject with some purpose. I for one, am sick to death
hearing, reading the same old trash that we all have heard for months. Obama is
a fake. We all know it. Hillary is a criminal. We all know it. Repeating it makes it no
more true. It just makes us look silly.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
There is a key question that is not being discussed. When the bodies came home and just after the ceremony, Hillary said something to the survivor families; she said she would make sure the maker of the film is arrested. She already knew that the film was not the reason for the attack. She was lying to their faces. Someone needs to find that clip and put it out on the news stations.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Either the Benghazi incident was a badly botched PR and security event or it was something more. If the former, learn and move on. If it was more, what was it? All this dancing around the implication that something deeply nefarious was about in Benghazi. Yet, no one dare speak such accusations. There's no proof. No smoking gun. No rat.
So what have we but an unnatural attempt to puff up the bad PR/security incident to the same level as that unmentionable, conspiracy, nefarious black op. Was Stevens dealing with an arms deal gone bad? Was Stevens a dupe in supplying erstwhile enemies? Or was he just in the wrong place at the wrong time that such a deal was going down and he stumbled upon it? No one wants to ask because there's no trail. It'd be cold calling the President on something definitely impeachable. Can't got there so let's inflate what we do have. I say Put UP or Shut Up. Either there's more, here or not.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
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