If Hillary doesn’t have t-shirts with that line on them for sale at CafePress, she’s missing a big opportunity.
There was a fiery exchange between Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Republican Sen. John McCain on Thursday during Panetta’s testimony about a deadly attack last September in Libya.
Panetta said the response to the attack was “timely and appropriate, but there simply was not enough time given the speed of the attacks for armed U.S. military assets to have made a difference.”
McCain, who has constantly lambasted the Obama administration’s response to the attack, forcefully challenged Panetta’s assertion that the Defense Department did everything it could.
McCain asked why the Defense Department did not send forces based at Souda Bay, Crete, to Benghazi. He said the flight is an hour and a half and that it was “simply false” for Panetta to testify that all resources couldn’t reach Libya in time.
“I stand by my testimony,” Panetta replied.
McCain testily countered, “Perhaps you can give me some facts.”
Panetta then said that a contingent was not sent because the State Department didn’t request
“So it’s the State Department’s fault,” McCain challenged.
Ouch! But they were just getting started:
Panetta’s testimony is just the latest in a string of accounts given to congressional intelligence committees, including passionate testimony from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In the months since the attack, Washington has been on fire with debate about how much the State Department knew about threats in the region and whether the administration attempted to mislead the public about the nature of the attack.
A scathing independent report released in December lambasted the State Department, saying “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies” led to inadequate security at the consulate.
In opening remarks, Panetta said he received no imminent threats in the hours leading up to the attack.
He explained that the first reports that an attack was happening were given “almost immediately” to the U.S. Embassy in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
Within 17 minutes, Panetta said, unarmed, unmanned surveillance aircraft were dispatched for a better idea of what was happening on the ground.
Soon, Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey met with President Obama, the secretary explained to lawmakers.
Obama ordered that the Defense Department respond to the attack and try to protect U.S. personnel.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina asked how many times President Obama talked with Panetta and Dempsey after he knew about the attack.
Once, they answered. That conversation lasted for 30 minutes and Obama did not personally get back in touch with them to ask how the mission to help personnel in Benghazi was going.
Was it “typical to make one phone call [and] and never call back and ask, ‘How’s it going,’ Graham asked.
Panetta replied, “The president is well informed about what is going on, make no mistake about it.”
“Was any airplane launched in the world before the attack was concluded,” Graham asked.
No, Panetta and Dempsey answered.
“Was there any soldier en route before the attack was concluded,” Graham asked.
The attack ended before anyone could be deployed, Panetta said.
Obama had bigger concerns than the life and imminent death of four Americans at the hands of savages. He had to get ready for his Vegas fundraiser. Leave him out of it.
But everything before the night of 9/11 damns the State Department eternally, and everything the day and night of 9/11 equally damns Defense. How can Panetta claim simultaneously that everything possible had been done, yet nothing could have been done? There were several bases or other military installations within a few hours, people were put on alert, yet no one arrived for hours and hours. What happened, what didn’t, and why?