Obama abdicated his constitutional responsibility as Commander in Chief

When last I wrote, the CIA denied giving a stand down order and denial of aid to Glen Doherty and Lance Woods.  Since then, the White House has issued a carefully worded statement to the effect that “Neither the president nor anyone in the White House denied any requests for assistance in Benghazi.”  That leaves only the Pentagon and, just as Hillary threw herself into the breach a couple of weeks ago, yesterday Defense Secretary Leon Panetta fell on the sword for Obama:

“(The) basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on; without having some real-time information about what’s taking place,” Panetta told Pentagon reporters. “And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, Gen. Ham, Gen. Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.”

Panetta’s statement is ludicrous on its face because we know that, both because of satellites and phone calls from Doherty and Woods, everyone in Washington knew exactly what was going on — and they watched in real time, for seven hours.  Yes, that’s too little time to start a war, but it’s more than enough time to deploy special forces.  Doherty and Woods knew that special forces could help because they once served in the same force that would have been deployed.  I can only imagine how these two men felt knowing that their country had the capability to save them, but then realizing as they fought alone on that rooftop that the current government was abandoning them.  Just the thought makes me feel simultaneously tearful and nauseous.

So, we know Panetta is lying about the facts.  We’re also unaware of any legitimate reason for this lie.  Absent a legitimate reason, we can only conclude something very ugly:  Way up on the chain of command, someone made a decision that was the product either of gross military malpractice or cold-hearted political calculation.  The latter, of course, would be the administration deciding that, if it could just focus public attention on the video, the Obama campaign could avoid a “Black Hawk down” scenario that would reflect badly on the president.  In other words, Obama or Axelrod or Jarrett decided that, for campaign reasons, discretion was the better part of valor and decency.  That might have worked in a pre-internet age, but nowadays, there’s no way to keep the lid on that type of lie.

As for the latter consideration — gross military malpractice — even if (and it’s a big if) the order to leave people to die emanated from the Pentagon, the responsibility still rests on Obama’s shoulders.  As Commander in Chief (it says so right there in the Constitution), he is and was the ultimate military authority America.  Ordinarily, of course, the President is not involved in every decision the military makes.  However, this was an emergency and the White House has stated that Obama was briefed and aware of the situation.  That means that he was the man in charge.  If risk aversion, campaign calculations, or any other algorithm unrelated to saving American lives factored into the decision to watch but not act in Benghazi, it’s Obama’s fault.  As Harry Truman understood, but Obama hates to admit, when it comes to the presidency, the buck stops there.

I’ll close with Mark Steyn, who beautifully sums up events in Washington, D.C., and Benghazi:

You’ll recall that a near-month-long attempt to blame an obscure YouTube video for the murder of four Americans and the destruction of U.S. sovereign territory climaxed in the vice-presidential debate with Joe Biden’s bald assertion that the administration had been going on the best intelligence it had at the time. By then, it had been confirmed that there never had been any protest against the video, and that the Obama line that Benghazi had been a spontaneous movie review that just got a little out of hand was utterly false. The only remaining question was whether the administration had knowingly lied or was merely innocently stupid. The innocent-stupidity line became harder to maintain this week after Fox News obtained State Department e-mails revealing that shortly after 4 p.m. Eastern, less than a half hour after the assault in Benghazi began, the White House situation room knew the exact nature of it.

We also learned that, in those first moments of the attack, a request for military back-up was made by U.S. staff on the ground but was denied by Washington. It had planes and special forces less than 500 miles away in southern Italy — or about the same distance as Washington to Boston. They could have been there in less than two hours. Yet the commander-in-chief declined to give the order. So Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods fought all night against overwhelming odds, and died on a rooftop in a benighted jihadist hellhole while Obama retired early to rest up before his big Vegas campaign stop. “Within minutes of the first bullet being fired the White House knew these heroes would be slaughtered if immediate air support was denied,” said Ty Woods’s father, Charles. “In less than an hour, the perimeters could have been secured and American lives could have been saved. After seven hours fighting numerically superior forces, my son’s life was sacrificed because of the White House’s decision.”

It would be shocking and disgusting if the American people gave this calculating coward another four years, not just to lead this nation, but to serve as Commander in Chief of the finest military in the world.

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  • JKB

    I sent the following to my local online newspaper last night and it has appeared in their opinion letters today.  As I state below, no one but Obama could issue the orders for military assets to enter and engage in a foreign country such as LIbya, in which we are not engaged in formal hostilities.  

    Barack Obama:  A failure to command
    Barack Obama has been president for over 3 years.  The President is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.  The President conducts U.S. foreign policy with the advice and consent of the Senate.  
    On Saturday the White House issued this statement:
    “‘Neither the president nor anyone in the White House denied any requests for assistance in Benghazi,’ National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told Yahoo News by email.”
    There have been no reports of the President ordering U.S. forces to assist those in in danger during the Benghazi attack which resulted in the murder of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.  As Commander in Chief and in executing his duties to conduct foreign policy, only the President could order the military to go tot he aid of Americans under attack in a foreign country.  The President’s refusal to  issue orders directing U.S. military forces to go to the aid of the ambassador and others under attack is a denial of requests for help.  
    Command is sometimes a heavy burden.  You do not advise and consent.  You must make the decisions.  Not making a decision is always the worst decision you can make.  There is no voting “present”.  For some reason, on September 11, 2012, while Americans were under sustained attack in a foreign country, with little hope of assistance from the host country, President Barack Obama chose to vote “Present!” then go to bed.  His decision not to decide, his attempts at blaming subordinate commanders, and his refusal to answer for those decisions demonstrates Barack Obama is unfit for command.  
    What we know now is no one ordered U.S. forces to go to the assistance of those under attack in Benghazi.  Everyone is denying they denied calls for help.  But such a denial from the Commander in Chief is pathetic.  Obama had only two choices that day, either issue orders sending help or not.  Not denying pleas for help passes the buck to someone else, but when you are the Commander in Chief, there is no one else.  Who could order American troops and aircraft to intervene in the face of  White House silence on the requests?  If not the President of the United States, Barack Obama, then who?  
    As the President of the United States must have moral authority to command as well as the Constitutional authority and Barack Obama has abdicated his responsibility to command while Americans were in harms way, we, the American People, have to relieve Barack Obama of his command and let him go.  

  • jj

    You bring up a point – and you do it in passing – in the course of your discussion above.  Ever since the repellant Clinton occupied – and dishonored – the white house with his presence therein, the concept of “taking responsibility” has become interesting.  I remember when Janet Reno and the geniuses at the ATF managed between them to kill a bunch of kids – and other people – for no particular reason in Waco.  In the pressure of the resultant “national outrage” – not quite pressure enough to crush a grape, as it turned out – somebody had to Take Responsibility.  Reno did, or was ordered to, or asked to, or whatever.  Anyway, she took 100% responsibility.  The question (to me) was, at the time and to this day: what did that mean?  Was she fired?  No, she wasn’t.  Was her resignation demanded?  No, it wasn’t.  Was she suspended?  Nope.  Was her pay docked?  Well… no.  Was she taken out behind the white house and beaten with baseball bats?  ‘Fraid not.  So, she “took responsibility” – 100% of it – and what did that mean?  What was her punishment?  What was her downside?  Well, the fact is it didn’t mean anything, there was no punishment, and no downside.  So you could well ask: what the hell was that?  The honest answer is: not a goddam thing.
    And Crap Clinton found out that the American people seem to have no expectation of punishment or a downside, so he was happy to shoulder all guilt, accept all responsibility, and “humble” himself when his turn in the crapper came, knowing that to take responsibility had become free!  No cost at all!  It meant nothing!  Sounded swell, zero effect!
    So now we have his equally reptilian wife, “taking responsibility” in some sense for some carefully parsed part of Benghazi.  And what does it mean?  In the real world, I mean.  Has she been fired?  No.  Is she going to be?  Not bloody likely.  Will she get a pay cut?  What do you think?  Will she be suspended without pay?  Nope.  Forced to resign?  Hell no – who are you kidding?  Having “taken responsibility”  She will suffer NOTHING!  Her downside is zero!  Nothing at all!  Her “taking responsibility” is, in the words of Bob Dylan: “worthless foam from the mouth.”  It doesn’t mean a goddam thing.  And Leon Penetta has “fallen on his sword?”  What sword?  It must be the dullest goddam sword in the northern hemisphere, it left him without a scratch!  Nothing!  Is he fired?  No.  Expected to resign?  No.  Forced to go without dessert for the next month?  No.  Pay cut?  no!  Expense account and limousine rides limited?  Well, this is a goddam joke, isn’t it.  
    I didn’t have any use at all for JFK.  But I do recall that after the Bay of Pigs f**k-up he realized that there was going to have to be some accountability – though the fiasco was 90% his own fault, which (credit where it’s due) he admitted.  But those who “took responsibility” were going to have to go.  And go they damn well did: he fired Allan Dulles and Richard Bissell, both of them pretty senior guys.  Once upon a time the maxim was: “when you are seen to screw it up; or your department screws it up; or you are responsible in any sense, direct or otherwise for screwing it up: you go.  Because we owe it to the American people not to have screw-ups infesting the highest levels.”   Even JFK, than whom there were few lower, possessed enough of a sense of honor (quaint concept, I know) to recognize that.  So did Dulles and Bissell, too: they submitted their resignations and shut up on the subject.  But that was the maxim then.  What’s the maxim these days?

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    That, jj, is an absolutely excellent point.  We certainly don’t have to go as far as the Japanese used to, when taking responsibility meant committing sepuku, but you’re right that there is NO fallout for Democrats who commit despicable acts in office.

  • Caped Crusader

    Lighten up on the poor chap. After all he did vote present, or did he? Present but resting up for his Vegas trip I believe.

  • Mike Devx

    I still think the issue is *worse* than just an abdication of responsibility.

    Obama said this on Friday:
    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. 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. Number three, find out who did this so we can bring them to justice.

    Did he?  Wouldn’t such a directive as #1 indicate, not a “stand down”, but rather a “Go go go.”? 

    To which person or people did he give “this directive” to?  What were his exact words?  What did they do?

    How is it possible that the end result was orders, at every level within the region, to “stand down”?

    I smell something far worse here than three-day-old fish.  Things are ROTTEN, and we deserve answers.

    I’d like to add that the mainstream media is covering up for this big-time, and provably, now.  All the major TV news organizations except Fox went completely silent on this issue on Sunday.  So did the New York Times and the Washington Post.  They are all doing their best to limit the damage to their candidate.  They are the Democrat Mouthpiece Media, and they are doing it again.

    Can you imagine the 24-7 hue and cry, the raging demand for ANSWERS – had this been a Republican administration?  Endless days of all the mainstream media outlets shouting “Outrage! Cover up! Scandal!  Americans Died!”  But for Obama… silence, and crickets chirping.  It is a travesty.

    I guess the stakes – a Presidential election – are so high that they are willing to take this major risk to whatever shreds remain of their sorry-ass reputation.  It will be another nail in the coffin of their collapsing credibility.

    The cover-up continues, make no mistake about it.  Yet even so, there were signs last week that the American people are catching on.  It will be interesting to watch how things develop over the next week, as the Obama Administration and the mainstream media desperately try to ride this out, try to suppress the scandal until after the election.

    Americans died!

  • Jose

    JJ’s point that “taking responsibility” has no downside extends to all those who brought us our current financial woes.  They screwed up, got bailed out, and are still in the same positions they occupied before 2008.

  • 11B40


    Apparently SoD Panetta was never a cavalryman or he would be aware of the adages “ride to the sound of the cannons” and “the firstest with the mostest”.  


  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Nobody wanted corrupt bureaucrats to take responsibility at the execution scaffold either. And look what it led to. Happy now?

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