To save you time, here’s the short version: All of the questions the Teapublican fringe on asking again have already been repeatedly answered. If, however, you have that crazy uncle who won’t let it go and you need responses, read on.
Q. Why won’t the White House allow Congress to talk to Benghazi eye witnesses?
A. Actually, “Two of the Justice Department’s key witnesses in last year’s terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, were summoned to Capitol Hill this month and grilled for hours in separate legal depositions” by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA). Also, multiple CIA officers who were in Benghazi at the time of the attack have already testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Q. Why hasn’t Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to face questions about Benghazi?
A. In fact, she has. Clinton confronted those critical of her actions during the attacks. She also testified for five hours in front of hostile Senate and House committee members — testimony that was covered extensively in the press. During her testimony Clinton faced almost 150 questions from Democrats and Republicans
Q. Where was President Obama on the night of the attacks, and why won’t the White house release a photo showing us where President Obama was, and what he was doing, that night?
A. A photo that has been available for more than a year on the White House Flikr page shows President Obama in the Oval Office during the September 2012 attacks. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey were meeting with President Obama when they learned of the attack and the president responded immediately.
Q. Why did the administration lie about outrage over a video being the cause of the attack?
A. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence found that “some intelligence suggests” an inflammatory video linked to violent protests around the region led terror groups to conduct “similar attacks with advanced warning”:
It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attacks or whether extremist group leaders directed their members to participate. Some intelligence suggests the attacks were likely put together in short order, following that day’s violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video, suggesting that these and other terrorist groups could conduct similar attacks with little advance warning. [Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/15/14]
Slate chief political correspondent John Dickerson wrote that while the newly released documents “clearly show that the White House pushed the video story,” they also show “proof that the White House believed the story they were pushing,” given that the CIA “made spontaneity its first and most durable claim that weekend” by initially blaming the video. [Slate, 4/30/14]
Q. Why did the president delay in sending help?
A. Actually, the president and the military did everything they could. The tin-foil hat conspiracy theory, beloved by so many on the Right, that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to give a “stand down” order to military support units on the night of the attack. This bit of follishness was debunked by Republicans, the military, and the Senate Intelligence Committee report, which found no military assets were in place to respond in time.
The Senate Committee on Intelligence review of the Benghazi attacks also found no evidence of a “stand down” order given to responding units during the attack:
The Committee explored claims that there was a “stand down” order given to the security team at the Annex. Although some members of the security team expressed frustration that they were unable to respond more quickly to the Mission compound, 12 the Committee found no evidence of intentional delay or obstruction by the Chief of Base or any other party. The Committee has reviewed the allegations that U.S. personnel, including in the IC (Intelligence Community) or DoD, prevented the mounting of any military relief effort during the attacks, but the Committee has not found any of these allegations to be substantiated….
The Committee has reviewed the allegations that U.S. personnel, including in the IC or DoD, prevented the mounting of any military relief effort during the attacks, but the Committee has not found any of these allegations to be substantiated. [Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/15/14]
The Senate Committee on Intelligence also found that military assets were not in place to respond in time:
According to Major General Darryl Roberson, Vice Director of Operations for the Joint Staff: There were no ships available to provide any support that were anywhere close to the facility at Benghazi. The assets that we had available were Strike Eagles loaded with live weapons that could have responded, but they were located in Djibouti, which is the equivalent of the distance between here [Washington D.C.] and Los Angeles. The other fighters that might have been available were located in Aviano, Italy. They were not loaded with weapons. They were not on an alert status. We would’ve had to build weapons, load weapons, get tankers to support it, and get it there. There was no way that we were going to be able to do that. Unfortunately, there was not a carrier in the Mediterranean that could have been able to support; the assets that we mobilized immediately were the only assets we had available to try to support….
There have been congressional and public questions about why military assets were not used from the U.S. military base in Souda Bay, Crete. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 7, 2013, that (1) the military asset in Souda Bay, Crete, “wasn’t the right tool for the particular threat we faced;” (2) ” … the aircraft were not among the forces that we had at heightened alert;” and (3) the “boots-on-the ground capabilities” that DoD deployed would have arrived too late, so they did not deploy to Benghazi. [Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/15/14]
An October 25 article by CBS News and the Associated Press reported that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters that the U.S. military “was prepared to respond” to the Benghazi attack “but did not do so because it lacked what he called ‘real-time information.” The article quoted Panetta as saying, “You don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on … (We) felt we could not put forces at risk in that situation.” Panetta also told reporters, “It was really over before we had the opportunity to really know what was happening.” [CBS/Associated Press, 10/25/12]
In an interview, Former Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya Gregory Hicks said that a flight that special forces were scheduled to take, but did not, would have taken off after 6:00 a.m., local time — approximately 45 minutes after the attack at the CIA annex that killed two people.
Even Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT), a member of the House Oversight Committee who has actively pursued investigations into the Benghazi attacks, told The Washington Post that the special forces team “would have arrived after the attack.”
Q. Why was security lacking during the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the U.S.?
A. The Senate Intelligence Committee actually conducted an investigation that addressed this issue. The unclassified report, released in January, concluded that the attack was “likely preventable” if the State Department had heeded repeated requests for increased security in what was later determined to have been a “deteriorating” situation. It also faulted the State Department for ignoring incidents that should have served as red flags.
The report further noted that U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was killed in the attack, twice rejected offers for military protection a month earlier.
Q. Who was behind the orchestrated effort to present two different talking points that were based on lies — or why were references to “terrorist” and “attacks” edited out of the Obama administration’s talking points?
A. Former CIA acting deputy director, Michael Morell, testified that the change was recommended by CIA operations officers and was made before a senior analyst sent the talking points to the office of congressional affairs.
Morell also noted that “one of the things that we’ve learned on this process is that the words we use internal to the CIA aren’t always the words that people outside of the CIA understands. So, to us, the word extremist was a synonym for the word terrorist. Not only for the analyst, but also our operators.” Appearing on CNN , Morell said, “In editing the talking points, I never changed ‘terrorist’ to ‘extremist’ and I never changed ‘attack’ to ‘demonstration,'”
The Senate Committee on Intelligence review determined there was no effort by the administration to cover-up or alter the talking points for political purposes:
The Majority concludes that the interagency coordination process on the talking points followed normal, but rushed coordination procedures and that there were no efforts by the White House or any other Executive Branch entities to “cover-up” facts or make alterations for political purposes. Indeed, former CIA Director David Petraeus testified to the Committee on November 16, 2012, “They went through the normal process that talking points-unclassified public talking points-go through.” In fact, the purpose of the National Security Council (NSC) is to coordinate the many national security agencies of the government, especially when information about a terrorist attack is flowing in and being analyzed quickly-and the NSC used this role appropriately in the case of the talking points coordination. Furthermore, such coordination processes were also standardized, often at the urging of Congress, following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with the explicit goal of reducing information “stovepipes” between and among agencies. [Review Of The Terrorist Attacks On U.S. Facilities In Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 1/15/14]