Chris Wallace conducted a lengthy interview with White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer in which he purported to discuss important facts about the attack on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya that killed our Ambassador and three other Americans. But Wallace’s ridiculous demand to know whether or not President Obama was in the Situation Room when he was dealing with the attack belied any claim of interest in the substance of President Obama's response.
Wallace first brought up Benghazi at about 8:00 in the video below and right away he made it about President Obama. Transcript below via FoxNews.com:
WALLACE: Let’s turn to Benghazi. And I want to ask you about one lingering question, which is the president’s actions on 9/11, the night of the attack, because we don’t know very much about that. We do know that in the afternoon he had already scheduled meeting with Defense Secretary Panetta as well as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey when he heard about this while they were in a meeting on an unrelated subject. He said that wanted them to deploy forces as soon as possible.
The next time that he shows up, is as Hillary Clinton says that she spoke to him at around 10:00 that night after the attack at the consulate, not as it turned out, at the annex, but the attack at the consulate was—had ended. Question, what did the president do the rest of that night to pursue Benghazi?
Pfeiffer answered that the president was “kept up to date on this as it was happening throughout the entire night, from the moment it started until the very end.” He added:
And I recognize that there’s a series of conspiracy theories the Republicans have been spinning about this since the night it happened, but there’s been an independent review of this, congress has held hearings, we provided 250,000 pages of -- 250,000 pages of documents up there. There’s been 11 hearings, 20 staff briefings. And everyone has found the same thing, this is a tragedy.
And so the question here is not what happened that night. The question is what are we going to do to move forward ensuring that this doesn’t happen again.
As Wallace almost certainly knows, the independent Accountability Review Board investigated the Benghazi tragedy and wrote up a set of recommendations in the wake of a number of criticisms of the State Department's practices and procedures. Yet, Wallace showed no interest in whether or not any of those recommendations had been or should have been implemented. Instead, he kept trying to suggest President Obama had been either negligent or lax.
WALLACE: But with due respect, you didn’t answer my question. What did the president do that night?
PFEIFFER: He was kept—he was in constant touch that night with his national security team and kept up to date with the events as they were happening.
WALLACE: When you say his national security team, he didn’t talk to the secretary of state, except for the one time when the first attack was over. He didn’t talk to the secretary of defense. He didn’t talk to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Who was he talking to? …Was he in the Situation Room?
PFEIFFER: He was kept up to date throughout the day.
WALLACE: Do you not know whether he was in the Situation Room?
PFEIFFER: I don’t remember what room the president was in on that night. And that’s a largely irrelevant fact.
WALLACE: Here’s the point, though. The ambassador goes missing, ends up the first ambassador in more than 30 years is killed. Four Americans, including the ambassador, are killed. Dozens of Americans are in jeopardy. The president at 4:00 in the afternoon says to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs to deploy forces. No forces are deployed. Where is he while all this is going on?
PFEIFFER: The assertions from Republicans here that somehow the president allowed this to happen or didn’t take action is offensive. It is absolutely an offensive premise. And there’s no evidence to support it.
WALLACE: We are just—I’m simply asking a question. Where was he? What did he do? How did he respond? Who told him that you can’t deploy forces, and what was his response to that?
Wallace’s claim to be “simply asking a question” is disingenuous at best. He’s a smart enough and capable enough newsman to know that President Obama had little or nothing to do with what happened or what went wrong at Benghazi. The fact that Wallace didn’t even discuss any of the substance of the ARB’s report or recommendations spoke volumes, at least as much as his ridiculous focus on which room President Obama was in and with whom he spoke about the attack.
Also, Wallace ought to know at least some of the people President Obama spoke to on the day of the attack. As Media Matters noted, a photo been on the White House Flickr page since at least January. The photo, shown below, has a caption stating, “Obama is talking to Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor, left, updates the President and Vice President on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and Chief of Staff Jack Lew are at right.”
But even worse, Wallace should know that forces were deployed. The ARB found, “There simply was not enough time given the speed of the attacks for armed U.S. military assets to have made a difference.” Wallace never pointed to any information or evidence to contradict that finding.
In short, Wallace fell in line with the rest of the Fox News/GOP lack of interest in what the experts say should have been done and should be done in the future to protect Americans serving abroad in order to raise meaningless but inflammatory suggestions that President Obama was out partying or campaigning or shouting “G** D*** America” with Rev. Wright as the two plotted how to complete the implementation of Obama’s socialist vision for American as a permanent welfare state. Or whatever the "fair and balanced" network can concoct to ratchet up the hate and fear yet again.
Sept. 11, 2012 "Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor, left, updates the President and Vice President on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and Chief of Staff Jack Lew are at right."
Do you think they would have spent more than one day on it? No more than a quick top of the hour news brief? Would they just put all the blame of responsibility to those who committed this murderous act, and then move on? Do you have any criticism toward the Republican Congress for cutting funding for security for our embassies? If not, why?
This is nothing but a two for one deal for the right. It’s an opportunity to attack the President, and begin the 2016 election by creating its theme against Hillary, while they feed the raw meat of hate to their followers for ratings and higher advertising revenue. I don’t believe for one moment they give a damn about those killed.
7. Saying to reporters, “now watch this drive.”
1. vacationing at his Texas ranch.
2. practicing with his air guitar.
3. reading stories to elementary school children.
4. approving an invasion of a Muslim nation based on phony intelligence reports.