Benghazi: Who Was Minding the Store?

The revelations that came out of the Senate Armed Services Committee this week in regards to the Benghazi attack will be a turning point in this investigation.  

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified that he was not in contact with President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the night of the attack. They did have a pre-scheduled meeting of the National Security team for twenty minutes at 5:00 pm (11pm Benghazi time), but after the meeting broke up, nothing but silence from the White House and the State Department.

According to accounts, the attack lasted roughly eight hours from 9:42pm to 5:15am (Benghazi time). There is a six-hour time difference between Benghazi and Washington. The first question is why did the National Security meeting break up while the Benghazi consulate was still being attacked? The White House has a Situation Room; wouldn’t an attack on our consulate bring it to that level? 

Not only did Defense Secretary Leon Panetta not talk to President Obama the night of the attack, he also didn’t speak to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Why? The Secretary of State does not command any military forces. Why wouldn’t the Secretary of State call the Secretary of Defense saying that her consulate needed help?

This whole investigation has been bungled from the beginning by all involved. The Obama Administration has misled and dragged its feet, and Congress has not been aggressive. A few weeks ago in this space, I called for Members of Congress to join Congressman Frank Wolf to start a Select Committee to investigate Benghazi. It has been thirty years since a United States Ambassador has been killed, and after the hearing this week there are more questions than answers. 

The first hearing for the Select Committee should feature both Leon Panetta and Hillary Clinton on the same panel, to explain what happened and why they did not communicate with each other. A clear understanding as to what happened last September needs to be rooted out once and for all. Right now it looks like those American heroes who were killed and injured during the attack were left to defend themselves with no support by our government. It appears that nobody was minding the store. 


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