Mona Charen is not taken in by this administration’s efforts to evade responsibility for doing nothing to save American lives in Benghazi.
The president invites us to conclude that his â€œmy diplomatsâ€ language is proof of his passionate concern for their welfare. But thereâ€™s more than a whiff of protesting too much in the presidentâ€™s comments and those of his spokesman. Pfeiffer went so far as to label questions about what the president did on the night of September 11, 2012, as â€œoffensive.â€ Bristling at a question from Chris Wallace about whether the president was in the Situation Room that night, Pfeiffer huffed, â€œThe assertions from Republicans that the president didnâ€™t take action is offensive.â€ When Wallace persisted with â€œIâ€™m simply asking a question: Where was he? What did he do? How did he respond . . . ?â€ Pfeiffer could say only that â€œthe president was in the White House that day, kept up to date by his national-security team, spoke to the Joint Chiefs of Staff earlier, secretary of state, and as events unfolded he was kept up to date.â€
Taking offense, or pretending to, is a favorite tactic of this White House, but letâ€™s understand it for what it is â€” a combination of bullying and evading responsibility.
President Obama has showered us with virtually minute-by-minute descriptions of his activities on the night Osama bin Laden was killed. Weâ€™ve been vouchsafed photos of the national-security team watching events in real time. The president used the word â€œI,â€ â€œme,â€ or â€œmyâ€ twelve times in a 1,300-word speech. But to ask how the president conducted himself on the night of September 11 crosses a line?
According to testimony from Leon Panetta, following a previously scheduled 5 p.m. meeting at which Benghazi was mentioned, the president did not speak again to his secretary of defense or the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the attacks on the consulate and then later the annex unfolded. The following morning, the president jetted off to a fundraiser in Las Vegas.
Pfeiffer asserts that itâ€™s false and offensive to say that the president took no action, but the secretary of defense acknowledged as much. In October 2012, Leon Panetta explained that while â€œwe quickly respondedâ€ with ships, FAST teams, and forces to the region as soon as the attack was reported and were â€œprepared to respond to any contingency,â€ they did not act because there was a principle at stake: â€œYou donâ€™t deploy forces into harmâ€™s way without knowing whatâ€™s going on.â€ (This explanation was later contradicted.)
Is that really a U.S.-military principle? Itâ€™s one thing to say that, in the absence of hostilities, initiating military action should be undertaken only after a full evaluation of all options. But when Americans are under attack, shouldnâ€™t the cavalry come over the hill if they possibly can?
Certainly thatâ€™s how Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty saw things. Completely outnumbered and outgunned, they nonetheless ran to the consulate and annex to man whatever guns they could lay hands on and attempt to defend their fellow Americans. They gave their lives doing so. The Obama administration gave nothing â€” not even the truth.