President Barack Obama skipped his daily intelligence briefing after the Benghazi attack. Instead of meeting with military and cabinet officials the day after four Americans, including a U.S. Ambassador, were killed in a terrorist attack, the president reportedly jetted off to a fundraiser in Las Vegas.
Obama also refused to answer questions about the terror attack in Libya when called to do so by the House Benghazi Select Committee. When Congress asked the president to speak with the committee to detail what happened during the Benghazi attack and to shed some light on why no help was sent when Marines were loaded on a plane and ready to go, he immediately declined. The president’s response to the attack, and the role he played during the decision-making process, remains largely unknown.
— Sgt. Freefall (@AP_SgtFreefall) June 28, 2016
According to a BizPacReview report, President Obama was advised by the White House counsel not to adhere to the request by Congress due to the “separation of powers” issue.
“If the president were to answer your questions, his response would suggest that Congress has the unilateral power to demand answers from the president,” a written response to the Benghazi Select Committee from the White House counsel’s office, Fox News reports.
The separation of powers of the three branches of government was created by the Founding Fathers to ensure power would never be centered too deeply on any one leader or office and to instill “checks and balances” into the system of the federal government.
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) June 29, 2016
The Benghazi report released yesterday could not include any details about what President Obama did upon hearing the embassy and CIA compound was under attack, but Trey Gowdy did note the questions which Congress had wanted to the commander-in-chief to answer.
One of the many unanswered questions about the Benghazi attack relates to meetings held at the White House after administration officials learned Ambassador Chris Stevens was missing. Unlike the scene that played out during the Osama bin Laden raid, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and top cabinet and military officials did not reportedly gather in the White House situation room to monitor video of the situation as it unfolded.
Here’s an excerpt from the response to Obama’s refusal to appear before Congress sent by Benghazi Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy to the White House Counsel on June 7.
“At our meeting in Charlotte, N.C. in January of 2016, I further offered to show you the questions in advance and provide the underlying testimony that gave rise to the question. In other words, each of these questions has an evidentiary basis rooted in either documents or other testimony, and I was willing to show you the questions and the foundation for the question.”
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) June 28, 2016
“It’s no surprise President Obama would rather take questions from Derek Jeter than answer questions for the American people about the Benghazi terrorist attacks, which followed what he himself has called his worst mistake — failing to plan for what happened after the State Department pushed U.S. intervention in Libya,” Benghazi Select Committee spokesman Jamal Ware said, according to Politico, when referencing Obama’s recent conversation with the former baseball star. “The White House’s fictional narrative today is the latest chapter of the story it has been spinning since 2012, when four of our fellow citizens were murdered by Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in the tragic terrorist attacks in Benghazi.”
Two of the questions that President Obama would have been asked by Congress are classified and have been redacted from the House committee’s release.
Here are the unclassified questions the Benghazi Select Committee wanted to ask the President of the United States before he refused to meet with members of the co-equal branch of the federal government.
1. The White House issued a readout of your meeting with senior administration officials on September 10, 2012, indicating “specific measures” had been taken to “prevent 9/11 related attacks.” What were these specific measures, and how did these specific measures differ from specific measures taken on prior anniversaries of September 11?
2. When did you first learn a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, had been attacked? What were you told, and by whom? Were you informed Sean Smith had been killed during the initial attack?
3. 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?
4. What were you told about Department of Defense assets in the region that could respond specifically to Benghazi? Did you ask for or receive a list of military or paramilitary assets in the region that could respond to Benghazi during the pendency of the attacks?
5. Were you subsequently kept informed about the initial attack, subsequent attacks, and/or efforts to either send military assistance or evacuate U.S. personnel? By whom?
6. When did you learn Ambassador Christopher Stevens was missing, and who informed you? Were you kept informed on efforts to locate Ambassador Stevens, and if so, by whom? When did you learn Ambassador Stevens was dead, and who informed you?
8. Were you aware that prior to any military asset moving to respond to the attacks the State Department expressed concerns to the White House about the number of military assets going
9. When did you learn of a mortar attack that killed Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty? Who informed you?
10. Were you aware of any efforts by White House and Department of Defense officials during the evening of September 11, 2012, and into the early morning hours of September 12, 2012, to reach out to YouTube and Terry Jones regarding an anti-Muslim video? What specifically connected the attacks in Benghazi to this anti-Muslim [sic] video, and why weren’t these efforts made after the protests in Cairo, Egypt?
11. When did you learn individuals associated with terrorist organizations participated in the attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya?
12. Did you receive the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) on September 12, 2012 and September 13, 2012? If so, who provided you with the PDB?
13. Have you ever viewed surveillance footage from the cameras (or other sources) located at the U.S. facilities in Benghazi depicting the attacks? Will you declassify this footage so the American
people can see for themselves what transpired?
14. Did you authorize a covert action or covert operation to provide lethal assistance to Libyan rebels?
The House Benghazi Committee report also revealed President Obama decided to opt out of his standard daily intelligence briefing the day after U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty were killed in the terror attack, BizPacReview also notes. The 800-page report states that a printout of the daily briefing was routinely given to White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew each day, and the coordinator only spoke to the president for an oral briefing upon request.
The Appendix H portion of the report offers 14 pages of a transcribed interview with the “executive coordinator” of President Obama’s daily intelligence briefing.
“So during the weeks that I produced the PDB, I would produce it, and then they would drive me to the White House, and I would produce—or I would brief Jack Lew first, who was the Chief of Staff. And if the President required a brief during that day or chose to take a brief, then I would give him a brief, and if not, then his briefer—then the DNI would brief him,” the staffer said during an interview with the House Benghazi committee.
According to the committee’s report, the day after the Benghazi attack, the executive coordinator of the presidential daily brief went to the White House as usual, but the brief was given only to an usher — not Jack Lew. She did not reportedly discuss the brief with either Lew or the president the day after a terrorism attack on American interests where an ambassador and three other citizens were killed.
What do you think about President Obama refusing to answer questions about Benghazi and not taking an oral intelligence brief after the terrorist attack?
[Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images]