The House Select Committee on Benghazi report contains at least one major bombshell: the committee found no evidence of the “three directives” that President Barack Obama claimed he issued when he first learned about the ongoing terror attack.
Neither the committee’s official report, nor the Democrats’ dissenting minority report, mentions the “three directives.” (In fact, President Obama barely features in the Democrats’ report at all, as if someone else were Commander-in-Chief that evening.)
The Democrats’ report does mention a general instruction that Obama gave to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Martin Dempsey when they met shortly after the attacks began on Sep. 11, 2012: “[T]he President made clear that we ought to use all of the resources at our disposal to try to make sure we did everything possible to try to save lives there,” Panetta said.
However, that “ought” is a suggestion — not an instruction, nor an order or a directive, much less three directives.
Obama made the “three directives” claim in October 2012 when asked about what he did during Benghazi by a local reporter in Denver — who evidently had more interest in the facts than the Beltway media:
I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure we are securing our personnel and that we are doing whatever we need to. Number two, we are going to investigate exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Number three, find out who did this so we can bring them to justice.
Obama’s account was repeated by former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and echoed by other Democrats. However, the directives are absent from the final Benghazi reports.
The committee asked the president directly, by letter:
What orders or direction, if any, did you give to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta upon learning of the initial attack? Did you or anyone at your direction ever modify, withdraw, alter, or amplify the initial orders or direction you gave to Secretary Panetta?
Obama refused to answer, or to provide any documentation of orders or directions given.
What the reports do show is that after Obama met with Panetta and Dempsey, he had a conversation with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later that evening, but otherwise did nothing to monitor or manage any effort to save American lives. He delivered a statement to the press the next morning before jetting away to Las Vegas for a political fundraiser.
It is possible that the White House simply refused to provide the three directives to the committee. The official Benghazi committee report faults the White House for its “intentional failure to cooperate with this and other congressional investigations.” But why would the Obama administration fail to turn over information or documents that would vindicate it?
More likely: the directives do not exist, and Obama lied to the American people about what he did about Benghazi — a lie that would only be compounded by his later fabrications about an anti-Islamic YouTube video.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, will be published by Regnery on July 25 and is available for pre-order through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.