Thank you for your letter about the terrorist attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, including our Ambassador to Libya. I appreciate your taking the time to write and welcome the opportunity to respond. First, I must say that the United States has suffered a terrible loss. Ambassador Chris Stephens, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, and Sean Smith laid down their lives in service to this country. I strongly believe that we owe it to them to determine what happened during the attack to bring those responsible to justice. On November 15 and 16, 2012, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which I chair, held two closed hearings about the circumstances surrounding the Benghazi attack. The Committee will be holding more hearings on this topic, and I expect that there will be public findings coming out of this review. Due to the classified nature of the hearings, I am not at liberty to comment specifically on them. In addition to reviewing the attack in Benghazi, we will also hold additional oversight hearings on threats posed to other U.S. government facilities in the Middle East and North Africa, to ensure that warnings are heard and properly heeded. Again, thank you for your letter. Knowing your views is important to me, and I hope you continue to inform me of issues that matter to you. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact my office in Washington, D.C. at (202) 224-3841. Sincerely yours, Dianne Feinstein United States SenatorLet me preface my remarks by saying that I have more respect for Dianne Feinstein than I have for most Democrats. Her stated position on the death penalty, for example, is to the right of most of her Democrat colleagues. Still, her positions on gun control and government spending, leave her as a pygmy among Lilliputians.
And while I appreciate her words of condolences and praise for the four who died in the attack, I find her response to be somewhat disingenuous as it applies to the role of the president on that day. If the president chooses to stonewall the country as to his actions on that day, it is incumbent upon Senators, like Ms. Feinstein to uncover the truth. We, the American people, and specifically the families of the fallen deserve to know the truth.
When asked what he knew and when he knew it, the president deflected, in the words of Jake Tapper, "saying he’s waiting for the results of investigations before making any conclusions about what went wrong." Only, there was no investigation required for the president to tell the American public what he knew. All it required was a backbone.
"Mr. President: Exactly when did you first become aware of the attack?" This question divulges nothing of national security. We know he was in the White House and not on some secret SR-71 flight* in preparation of an October surprise on Mitt Romney. I'm sure there are scribes and secretaries within the White House who could refresh his memory, had he forgotten the exact time. It's a simple question: When did you first learn of the attack? It does not require a committee to discover the truth. It only requires one man to tell us the truth. Why is he stonewalling?
Second, "Mr. President, exactly what were your orders and to whom when you first heard of the attack? With whom did you confer about any action to be taken?" Obama has responded in the past with:
...the minute I found out what was happening, I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. Number two, we’re going to investigate exactly what happened so that it doesn’t happen again. Number three, find out who did this so we can bring them to justice. And I guarantee you that everyone in the state department, our military, the CIA, you name it, had number one priority making sure that people were safe.
Which minute would that have been, Mr. Obama? And, forgive me, but "doing whatever we need to" doesn't sound like a very clear directive to me. If I instructed you, for example, to 'fix' the economy by saying, "Don't just sit there, do something!", would you consider that a "clear directive"? Please be precise: Which specific directives did you give and to whom? If you gave specific orders that were not carried out, the American people deserve to know why.
And that is why I find Sen. Feinstein's letter equally equivocal. The things the American people want most to know, is not that which must be spoken of in "closed hearings" of a "classified nature" that she is "not at liberty to comment specifically on them". We would like to know whose boneheaded decision to was to keep a mission there, unprotected, while the rest of our Western allies were exercising the better part of valor and leaving the area because of the dangers presented. I believe this can be done without compromising intelligence assets either here or in the region.
Secondly, given additional warnings, and knowing the significance of the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, why were not additional precautions of any kind taken?
Thirdly, we need to know whether or not the Commander-in-Chief of the United States was diligent, negligent or derelict in his duties as C-in-C. What orders were given when and to whom. We do not necessarily need to know where or how many aircraft, SEALs or Rangers are standing by at any moment for such a mission as this. We do need to know if it was ordered and if not, why not?
And lastly, who was responsible for the execrable cover up and bogus story about the video, when our intelligence sources were warned of a terrorist attack and that there was no evidence of a "demonstration" that escalated over a video that practically no one knew about or had ever seen.
Nothing in those few questions should compromise national security. Much of the information can be elicited from just one man: Barack Obama. If he is not forthcoming, he should be subpoenaed to testify before Congress. He should not be allowed to stonewall this, merely because it might reflect badly on his character or job performance.
Feel free to call him to a closed session, but be prepared to reveal the truth to the American people when you are finished.
*The bogus "October Surprise", where George H. W. Bush, was accused, as a civilian, of commandeering a military spy plane to fly to Paris, when no other aircraft could have fit the time frame of the supposed conspiracy.
Cross posted at Proof Positive