Retired general on Benghazi: ‘This was no demonstration gone terribly awry,’ we should have tried to help Americans under fire
Obama Administration apologists have been in free-fall for the past 48 hours, as the story they thought they had buried comes roaring back, a bigger scandal than ever. In the wake of Judicial Watch’s discovery of the White House “smoking gun” memo directing the false “video protest” narrative of the attack, the House Oversight Committee convened new hearings, at which retired Brigadier General Robert Lovell – deputy intelligence director for the U.S. Africa Command on the night of September 11, 2012 – was the star attraction.
Lovell utterly demolished all pretense that the White House ever had any serious reason to believe the Benghazi attack was a spontaneous protest. He made it clear the intelligence community knew what they were dealing with, right from the start. “This was no demonstration gone terribly awry,” he said. “The facts led to the conclusion of a terrorist attack.”
He told House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) that the “spontaneous protest” theory was very briefly discussed, and quickly discarded:
He repeated this to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), even naming a likely early suspect for the attacks: the al-Qaeda affiliate known as Ansar al-Sharia. He said this conclusion was reached “in the very early hours of this activity.” Chaffetz was determined to demonstrate that no one in the know supported the phony “video protest” narrative the Administration used for political damage control… including, as he noted, members of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s staff. The gentleman from Utah makes this point with great and memorable emphasis:
Chaffetz then began an extraordinary exchange with Lovell when he asked what the U.S. military was doing as the attack unfolded. “Were the running to the sound of the guns?” Chaffetz asked. “Were they doing what they were trained to do? Or were they sitting around waiting for the State Department and Hillary Clinton to call them up and say, ‘Do something?’ What did they actually do? Did we do enough, General?”
“No, sir,” Lovell replied. He spoke of the military’s desperate desire for situation awareness, before conceding that they basically were waiting for guidance from the State Department… and he disagreed with the Administration’s official stance that no potentially helpful assets were in range of the Benghazi consulate.
“The point is, we should have tried” to help the Americans under fire in Benghazi, Lovell said to the Committee. He repeated this under questioning from Rep. John Mica (R-FL), saying “The military could have made a response of some sort.” He echoed the consternation of many Benghazi critics that more extensive assets and a ready-to-go contingency plan were not in place on the anniversary of 9/11. His talk about “running to the sound of the guns” emphasizes that real leaders don’t throw up their hands and say oh well, we probably can’t get there in time to help, so let’s not even try while a crisis like this is unfolding.
The Administration’s conduct on Benghazi only seems complicated or confusing if the obvious explanation – buttressed by the freshly revealed White House memos – is discarded out of hand. They understood how devastating this sort of testimony would have been to Obama’s re-election hopes. Lovell’s testimony today, coupled with emails showing the White House team coordinating deliberately false talking points to make the Benghazi attack seem like an utterly unpredictable event no President could have responded to, would have been the one-two punch that ended the 2012 presidential campaign. Team Obama was correct in their assessment that he could not have survived it, especially if the truth came out after the families of the dead were fed that phony “video protest” story, with Hillary Clinton’s assurances that the evil filmmaker would be found and punished.
The House Oversight Committee is understandably upset that the emails discovered by Judicial Watch were hidden from Congress during previous Benghazi investigations. White House spokesman Jay Carney’s answer to that was to claim that the emails weren’t really about Benghazi, but rather the situation in the “entire region”… even though Benghazi is explicitly mentioned in the emails, and they were produced in response to a subpoena about Benghazi.
That’s the kind of Hail Mary pass a team of liars throws when they’re hoping to run out the clock, until some other news becomes a plausible distraction for the media. They’re still scrambling to survive one news cycle at a time. The bottom line is that Barack Obama and his crew deliberately lied to the American people, and the families of the dead, at the exact moment when voters needed the truth to evaluate his performance as President and decide whether or not to grant him a second term. That is not, and never will be, “old news.”
Update: White House spokesman Jay Carney took another stab at spinning the Benghazi story again on Thursday, this time going up against Ed Henry of Fox News, who asked the question I mentioned above: if the email supposedly isn’t about Benghazi, why was it released in response to a subpoena on that very subject? It didn’t go well for Carney, who reverted into spoiled-teenager mode under Henry’s relentless questioning. The White House seems truly blindsided by this story. None of their old tricks are working any more, and they don’t know what to try next.