No, Mr. President. Benghazi is an election issue.

A local reporter in Denver, Colorado did not get the memo that he was supposed to give President Obama a pass on the Benghazi issue. In a recent interview with the President, the reporter pressed the President to account for the failure to send help to the Americans who died in Benghazi. The President’s answers were at best evasive. Not only does the President refuse to answer the question, he tells the reporter that that his question is irrelevant:

KYLE CLARK: “Were the Americans under attack at the consulate in Benghazi Libya denied requests for help during that attack? And is it fair to tell Americans that what happened is under investigation and we’ll all find out after the election?”

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “Well, the election has nothing to do with four brave Americans getting killed and us wanting to find out exactly what happened. These are folks who served under me who I had sent to some very dangerous places. Nobody wants to find out more what happened than I do…

The evasion is bad enough. That the President thinks that “Americans getting killed” has nothing to do with the election is even worse. Is it really the President’s place to tell the American people that the most significant foreign policy failure on his watch has nothing to do with the election?

After the President refuses to answer the question, the reporter presses him again, “Were they denied requests for help during the attack?” Again, the President refuses to answer.

If this were a Republican president giving evasive answers to questions about attacks that killed four Americans, the national media would have been in full apoplexy weeks ago. The story would be on the front page of every newspaper and leading every newscast until it was resolved. No such evasion would be accepted but would be treated as prima facie evidence of a cover-up. But because the President is the chosen one, the media simply accept his answer that this is not an election issue, and they tell us, “Move along, nothing to see here.”

How can this be? Are voters really accepting this line? Shouldn’t we expect more from our President and from the media who cover him?

Here’s what we know. The administration has changed its story numerous times. We now know that the White House and the State Department knew about the attacks as they were happening and that our men were denied requests for military support. In spite of all of this, our national media is now telling us, “Nothing to see here, move along. Maybe we’ll check in on this after the election.” The time to check in on this is right now. How come the country is not paying attention?

I agree with Bob Woodward that the President needs to appoint an independent counsel to investigate what happened. An internal inquiry will not do. These kinds of investigations take time, and we certainly don’t expect one before the election is over. Nevertheless, we do expect the President to answer what questions he can right now.

Bill Kristol has put together a list of 10 questions that the President can and should answer immediately. If there were no other issues in this campaign, a failure to answer these questions would alone be grounds to deny the President a second term. It’s that serious.

Here are the questions that any reporter worth his salt should be pressing upon the President over the next week:

1.) To whom did the president give the first of his “three very clear directives”—that is, “make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to?”

2.) How did he transmit this directive to the military and other agencies?

3.) During the time when Americans were under attack, did the president convene a formal or informal meeting of his national security council? Did the president go to the situation room?

4.) During this time, with which members of the national security team did the president speak directly?

5.) Did Obama speak by phone or teleconference with the combatant commanders who would have sent assistance to the men under attack?

6.) Did he speak with CIA director David Petraeus?

7.) Was the president made aware of the repeated requests for assistance from the men under attack? When and by whom?

8.) Did he issue any directives in response to these requests?

9.) Did the president refuse to authorize an armed drone strike on the attackers?

10.) Did the president refuse to authorize a AC-130 or MC-130 to enter Libyan airspace during the attack?

If the President doesn’t want the Benghazi attacks to be politicized, then he should stop politicizing them and answer the questions. The father of one of the slain Navy Seals is a demanding to know “who it was that gave that command–do not rescue them.” We join him in waiting for the answer.

15 Responses to No, Mr. President. Benghazi is an election issue.

  1. Dan Phillips October 27, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    You’re so right that it should hardly need to be said that you’re right, but there it is: you’re right.

    So what I’m wondering is: why is Romney not constantly pounding this drum? Two main possibilities:

    1. He’s clueless or unconcerned, or knows something about it that would make it blow up in his face later. I find that unlikely; and if there were some exonerating fact, 0 would have produced it.

    2. By keeping his distance (he’s already on-record), he prevents it from being painted and dismissed by the MSM/public as a partisan, political issue. Enough people are engaged and not letting go, and even here and there in the media there is some dim flicker of alarm. So if he lets that rise, and THEN comes in saying in effect, “Right, it’s exactly like I said at the time, and so say I again, now.” Death-blow to 0’s candidacy.

    I’m leaning somewhere around seven. Romney has risen in my estimation from being just about my dead-last choice, to someone I see as being potentially not just a better-than-Obama president to a truly formidable and effective president.

  2. Brent Hobbs October 27, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    “These kinds of investigations take time, and we certainly don’t expect one [complete investigation] before the election is over. Nevertheless, we do expect the President to answer what questions he can right now.”

    That’s exactly right. There’s no reason the administration should not answer questions. Just because we can’t know everything doesn’t mean we shouldn’t know anything. The behavior of the president, his administration, and the vast majority of the press on this issue is sickening.

  3. James Stanton October 27, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    The one question I’ve had is why the Ambassador was at the consulate, which by nature would have less security, instead of the embassy in Tripoli.

    The second is whether we had the assets in the area to respond effectively in time to prevent the deaths of our personnel in Benghazi. If there were assets in the area what prevented their use?

    The reason Romney has backed down on this issue is that he did not exploit it very well from the start. He pounced on politicizing the event in the first few hours and the optics of that did not look good for him. Then he handled the issue terribly during the debate and allowed Obama to evade damage on the issue.

    By the way, this persecution complex about Republican Presidents and the media does not fly with me. President Bush and the Bush WH received generous treatment from the media in the wake of 9/11 as well as the run-up to and aftermath of the Iraq War. We still have not had a proper accounting of those failures and the neoconservative advisers that ran Republican foreign policy disastrously in those years will still dominate a Romney WH.

    I think echoing the comment of the dead Seal’s father shows some bad faith.
    “who it was that gave that command–do not rescue them.” One, we don’t know that they could have been resued. Two, we don’t know that there was any such command given. Third, why is this even a reasonable premise from an objective standpoint?

  4. Tom Parker October 27, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    If this involved George Bush or some other Republican President you all would be allowing them all the time they needed. Seems to be some hypocrisy going on here.

    I’m guessing Denny, you want Romney to be elected.

    Politics and religion sure make some strange bed fellows.

    • Denny Burk October 27, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

      It wouldn’t matter who the president was or what party he was in. If over the period of two months he offered shifting explanations of the attacks and then it was revealed that our people were denied requests for help and then the Pres. gives vague answers, then that President needs to be called on it. We don’t know why things went wrong. All we know is that they went wrong. Perhaps it was incompetence. Perhaps it was something more nefarious. Maybe it was just negligence. Whatever the reason, the Pres. must be held to account no matter what his party is.

      • James Stanton October 28, 2012 at 12:05 am #

        i think that’s fair. Does the WH deserve any leeway when considering the conflicting information that they seem to have received in the hectic moments during and after the Benghazi events? That might have something to do with the different stories.

        Here’s some background on the requests for help.
        http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/10/26/cia-operators-were-denied-request-for-help-during-benghazi-attack-sources-say/

        The fact that there was a CIA site in the area might indicate some of the secrecy on this topic.

        Another factor is that the House rejected requests for embassy security funding. Seems plenty of blame to go around.

        On the issue of accountability. People who blame the President for what happened in Benghazi will likely not vote for him. It’s baked in the cake already as it’s been in the national news for the last 6 weeks. There’s already enough evidence to indict him or exonerate him in the eyes of the voting public.

      • John Holmberg October 28, 2012 at 12:40 am #

        But you’re acting as if it’s the big bad liberal media covering for Obama and preying on poor ol Romney. This rhetoric from you has gotten excessive over the past few weeks, and it’s making me nauseous. You speak as if there’s some big bad media conspiracy to get Obama re-elected, and you use exaggerated and sarcastic messianic language to make your point. It’s not befitting of an academic to speak in such a way, much less a Christian academic. The persecution-complex, as another commenter called it, is getting a bit out of hand. I would’ve hoped you would be past this by now. You can publish my comment or moderate it as you did the last one, but your rhetoric is less than Christian on this and a whole host of other issues.

        • Dan Phillips October 28, 2012 at 7:14 am #

          Yes, Denny! You must stop speaking truth not approved (or in a manner disapproved) by the Academy! This must be your highest value: retain the respect of those who value retaining respect above all! The threat of Disappointing such folk far outweighs any risk of failing your country in a time of crisis, or certainly of failing some God-person by not speaking critical truth passionately, pointedly, and forcefully.

          Don’t you know that backbone in matters of truth is a thing of yesterday? Don’t you know that daintiness, disdain, and microscopic nuance are the desiderata of the day? Do you want to be seen as a hopeless relic?

          Yield, sir! Yield!

          And after you repair this terrible breach you’ve committed (by giving voice to the obvious), we would like a word with you about your views on Scripture, Christ, the Gospel, and various lesser matters.

          • Tom Parker October 28, 2012 at 9:09 am #

            Dan:

            Speaking truth you say–what is that? Whose truth?

          • John Holmberg October 28, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

            Is it ironic that a man who claims to speak for truth does so in such an immature, hateful, derogatory, and pejorative manner? Do you realize that it’s people like you that make others leave the Christian faith altogether? That makes people lose all respect for Christianity?

            I said nothing remotely close to what you suggest. I didn’t even insinuate such. How can you get from what I said to what you claimed I said? Did I even say anything about Christ, the Gospel, Scripture, etc.? Did I say anything about only speaking truth if it’s accepted by the academy? Your post is full of mischaracterizations, lies, and immature sarcasm. What is it about typing on a computer screen that brings out the worst in people, Christians no less?

        • Tom Parker October 28, 2012 at 9:06 am #

          John:

          He is mixing politics and Christianity and they never mix very well. And you are right IMO his disdain for President Obama shows through in his relentless attacks and unwavering support of Romney.

          What will Denny and others do if President Obama is re-elected?

          • Denny Burk October 28, 2012 at 9:19 am #

            In what way am I mixing politics and Christisnity?

          • Denny Burk October 28, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

            Tom, you must be new to this blog if you think I have unwavering support for Romney. I’ve been very critical of him.

  5. Paula Bolyard (@pbolyard) October 28, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    @ James…perhaps you’ve forgotten “Bush lied, people died” meme. The MSM reported on this endlessly, included nearly hourly updates on Cindy Sheehan and her 8 Code Pink pals camped out in front of Bush’s ranch in TX.

    I have also wondered why Romney hasn’t mentioned it. Maybe he knows something that is going to (organically) blow this thing further out of the water and he doesn’t feel the need to be the hit guy. He’s staying above the fray. Or he was so burned by the response to the comment he made after the Egypt mob scene that he is risk-averse? At this point in the campaign, the momentum is going his way. It’s not a time to take risks, so strategically, it might be best to lay low and let Obama cook his own goose, though I’m not sure that will happen with the MSM burying the story.

    Last night I went to a Romney/Ryan rally in Ohio. Benghazi was a taboo subject. The speakers in the lineup (it was a LONG lineup including lots of local candidates) must have been briefed not to discuss it. The only person who mentioned it was the MC, a county commissioner who must not have gotten the memo. Obviously, she didn’t have her banter approved by the campaign like I suspect the other candidates may have. The closest anyone came was the Lt. Gov., a mom, who asked which candidate we would trust if our children joined the armed forces and were sent into harm’s way. Of course, everyone in attendance knew exactly what she was talking about.

  6. Mary Elizabeth Palshan October 28, 2012 at 12:08 am #

    I believe it is really a matter of who’s minding the store; and we do need presidents who can micromanage, btw. No detail is too small or insignificant (especially on an anniversary of 9-11) for a sitting president not to take very seriously. President Obama should have had all his senses attuned to the wind for any signs or rumors of terrorism. Our foreign embassies are “always” in great peril; nothing new there.

    I think General Alexander Haig would have been on top of things; he was ready and waiting in the wings when Reagan was shot. Ready to carry the nuclear football to the goal line if need be. I used to think he was in it for the glory, but now I see him as a man of incredible “forethought” and integrity, something this president is surely lacking.

    President Obama is NOT minding the store. He is more concerned about appearances on the View and other various talk shows. His head is in the clouds of glory and not the debased and vile ugliness of the world’s current state of affairs. (The rewards of getting your hands dirty are many). But some say ignorance is bliss; and many voters are sadly caught up in this haze and fog of stupidity. Obama is counting on this shortsightedness for a major touchdown.

    I like your thoughts, Dan Phillips.

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