I know, but I won’t give it away upfront:
What was President Obama doing during the eight hours that the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was under attack? Amazingly, we still do not know 20 months later.
But there is an easy way to find out — just ask the White House diarist.
Just outside the Oval Office is a room called the Outer Oval, where the president’s secretary and personal aide sit and through which all visitors coming to see the president pass. Staff members in the Outer Oval keep track of the president’s location at all times. They carefully record the names of all individuals who walk into the Oval Office — when they entered, how long they stayed, what the topic of discussion was. They keep a record of all calls made and received by the president, including the topic, participants and duration. They even record the president’s bathroom breaks (they write “evacuating” into the log).
This and other data on the presidents’ whereabouts are collected by a career National Archives employee whose title is White House diarist. This individual preserves them as a minute-by-minute historical record of the presidency for future use by presidential scholars.
What this means is that there exists a minute-by-minute record of where the president was and what he was doing for all eight hours of the Benghazi attack.
I can’t say for sure when President Obama went to the bathroom (evacuated), if he goes to the bathroom, but I know what he was doing the night of 9/11/12.
1:15 pm || Departs White House
3:00 pm PT || Arrives Las Vegas, Nevada
5:25 pm PT || Delivers remarks at a campaign event; Cashman Center, Las Vegas
Before the bodies of Stevens, Woods, Smith, and Doherty were cold, he was flying off to Vegas. He remembered them, but not before giving out his signature shout-out:
The Cashman Center
Las Vegas, Nevada
6:03 P.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Can everybody please give Adriana a great round of applause for the wonderful introduction? (Applause.)
I also want to say it’s good to see your once and next Congresswoman, Dina Titus. (Applause.) And it is so good to see all of you.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. (Applause.) I do. I wanted to begin –
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. So I wanted to begin tonight by just saying a few words about a tough day that we had today. We lost four Americans last night, who were killed when they were attacked at a diplomatic post in Libya.
I knew he’d get around to them! After Adriana and Dina, of course.
More on that “tough day”:
No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America. (Applause.)
I think he means no “spontaneous protest” against an internet video will shake the resolve of the United States of America. It would be helpful if he could keep his story straight.
Back to the original point:
So how is it that the White House has failed to give a full account of the president’s whereabouts during that eight-hour period? The White House knows precisely where he was and what he was doing, yet it is refusing to share that information with Congress and the American people. This is unacceptable. Imagine if 20 months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the George W. Bush White House had still refused to account for where the president was or what he was doing that day. There would be outrage and constant demands from the press, Congress and other investigators demanding to know the answer to a simple factual question: Where was the president?
The new congressional select committee on Benghazi should subpoena the “President’s Daily Diary” and call the White House diarist to testify before the committee. There is precedent for doing so. In 1998, the grand jury investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair questioned White House diarist Ellen McCathran. Moreover, the “President’s Daily Diary” is not a classified document. It eventually becomes a publicly available record. There is no reason to withhold it from Congress.
What else might the commander in chief have been doing? There has been speculation that Obama held a campaign debate prep session as the Benghazi attack was unfolding. The White House visitors log shows that three individuals — Michael Donilon, David Ginsberg, and Ron Klain — entered the White House on September 11, 2012 for “debate prep.” The record notes “3 meet with Potus NO TIME LISTED 9/11/12.” The “President’s Daily Diary” will tell us whether the president attended this meeting and what time it took place.
The White House eagerly shared details of the president’s whereabouts during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, even releasing a photo of him monitoring the assault in the Situation Room in real time. So why not share the same details about his whereabouts during Benghazi?
Because it might look too much like this:
I have to back off here. I love putting my feet on the furniture too. I don’t own the Resolution Desk, however.