By Fred Lucas
In light of President Obama's statement in an Oct. 26 interview that the "minute" he found out about the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 he issued a directive to subordinates "to make sure we are securing our personnel," House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) has sent a letter to Obama demanding that he reveal exactly whom he ordered to do what on that day.
“Although this response did not specifically answer the reporter’s question, your first directive would appear to involve potential actions by the U.S. military,” McKeon said in a letter sent to Obama on Monday. “Since you personally provided this directive, I have a series of additional questions that I am confident you can answer in advance of the conclusion of any formal investigation.”
On Sept. 11, 2012--the 11th anniversary of 9/11--terrorists launched attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing four Americans, including U.S. Amb. Christopher Stevens. During an interview Friday with Denver TV station KUSA, reporter Kyle Clark asked Obama, “Were they denied requests for help during the attack?”
Obama did not answer that question directly but said he instantly issued “directives” when he first learned of the attack.
“Well, we are finding out exactly what happened. I can tell you, as I've said over the last couple of months since this happened, the minute I found out what was happening, I gave three very clear directives,” Obama said.
“Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. Number two, we're going to investigate exactly what happened so that it doesn't happen again," he said. "Number three, find out who did this so we can bring them to justice. And I guarantee you that everyone in the State Department, our military, the CIA, you name it, had number one priority making sure that [our] people were safe.”
McKeon, whose committee has oversight over the U.S. military, wants to know exactly what the commander in chief did or did not tell the military to do that day.
“There appears to be a discrepancy between your directive and the actions taken by the Department of Defense," said in his letter to Obama. "As we are painfully aware, despite the fact that the military had resources in the area, the military did not deploy any assets to secure U.S. personnel in Benghazi during the hours the consulate and the annex were under attack. I find it implausible that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Commander of U.S. Africa Command, and the Commander of U.S. European Command would have ignored a direct order from the Commander in Chief.”
McKeon than listed four questions he is demanding that Obama answer:
1) “To whom did you issue this first directive and how was this directive communicated to the military and other agencies--verbally or in writing?“
2) "At any time on September 11, 2012, did you specifically direct the military to move available assets into Libya to ensure the safety of U.S. personnel in Benghazi? If so, which assets did you order to Libya?
3) "At any time on September 11, 2012, other than ISR assets, did you provide the authority for the military to take any and all necessary measures to secure U.S. personnel, including specifically the authority to enter Libyan airspace?
4) "Did you have any communication with the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or any Commanders of regional Combatant Commands regarding military support to U.S. personnel in Benghazi on September 11th? If so could you please describe any recommendations provided to you regarding available military support and any orders you gave them?"
Chairman McKeon told the president that members of the Armed Services Committee are concerned that there might have been a 'breakdown in communication" between the commander in chief and U.S. military forces while the crisis was unfolding in Libya.
"Members of the Committee on Armed Services are keenly concerned that any breakdown in communication that may have occurred not be repeated," McKeon wrote the president. "Given your stated interest in transparency and sharing all relevant information with the American people and the families of our fallen, I am hopeful you can promptly address these questions."