A foreign policy/war powers law establishes that the unnecessary deaths in Benghazi were Obama’s responsibility

Here’s what didn’t happen in Benghazi on September 11, 2012:  Despite advanced warning of the attack, and despite urgent, detail rich phone calls from the CIA/former Navy SEAL operatives under attack, and despite real time video feeds of events unfolding on the ground,* no one came to help.  No one came to help the 30-odd people trapped in the embassy, no one came to help Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith, and no one came to help Glen Doherty and Lance Woods as they rescued those trapped people and then spent seven terrifying hours on the roof of the administration’s CIA outpost, holding off an al Qaeda affiliate’s attack before they were finally killed.

During this long night, Obama seems to have hung out a bit watching events before going to bed in preparation for a campaign junket to Las Vegas.  (One Las Vegas paper does not appreciate that effort.)  The next day, the administration started playing the blame game.  First, Obama and his shills blamed a 14-minute nothing of a video.  To add verisimilitude to an otherwise unconvincing narrative, the government ignored the First Amendment, arranged for the video maker to be arrested for exercising his right of free speech and, seven weeks later, keeps him imprisoned.  (And yes, he was ostensibly jailed for a parole violation, but I think we all know that the way he was treated was a farcical overreaction that can only be explained as part of a larger cover-up.)  Just so you know, they do the same kind of thing in China, which is not blessed with a First Amendment.

When the video story fell apart, Hillary said events in Benghazi were her responsibility (although she was careful to blame unnamed subordinates for the actual security failure).  Interestingly, neither the administration nor the media demanded her resignation or even an investigation.  When the Obama administration started to turn its knives on Bill Clinton for allegedly giving bad campaign advice, Hillary leaked that, well, no, really, she’d done everything she could to increase security, but nobody (read:  the White House) would let her.

With the State Department pushing back, the next obvious culprit was the CIA — especially once we learned that Woods and Doherty had begged the CIA for help.  The media and the White House were thrilled.  Thrilled, that is, until General Petraeus said that no one on his watch had refused help.  Suddenly, all eyes (except, of course, for mainstream media eyes) were back on the White House.

Next up for blame?  The Pentagon, of course.  Leon Panetta lamely explained that “Golly, it was dangerous out there and the military never sends its troops into danger, don’t you know.”  Panetta’s excuse was ridiculed by people who care and accepted as the God’s honest truth by the mainstream media.  The White House again heaved a sigh of relief.

But then, darn it, Lance Woods’ father refused to slunk back into the night.  Instead, he told a few home truths:  Obama was a cold fish, Hillary lied again about the video, and Joe Biden . . . . Well, there really aren’t words for a man who walks up to a bereaved father and makes vulgar remarks about his dead child’s anatomy.  The MSM kept silent on this one too, but enough people (plus Fox, of course) were agitating that the story suddenly started to spread — and that despite the media’s by now quite valiant efforts to ignore it to death:

Mother Nature suddenly seemed to send a reprieve to Obama: A Category 1 hurricane that, while not strong, managed to blow directly landward, wrecking havoc across vast swaths of the heavily populated Northeastern seaboard.  While Obama has not been forthcoming with pictures of him handling Benghazi, he rushed out photos of him meeting with his Council about Hurricane Sandy, hugging bereaved Hurricane victims, and generally looking manly and noble amidst the rubble.

Too bad for the President that, four days before the election, things aren’t going so well in those areas damaged by the Hurricane.  People on Staten Island are suffering terribly and vocally. This may well be because, as Danny Lemieux suggested to me, Staten Island is staunchly Republican.  However conservative political leanings certainly don’t explain the disaster in New York’s Public Housing apartments, which have no power and no plumbing.  As always, Matt Drudge neatly sums up the situation:

So, here we are, President Obama, four days before the election, and you’re still not off the hook. Indeed, as of today, it’s entirely possible that things are about to get a whole lot worse for you. Your blame game started falling apart when all the other suspects (the State Department, the CIA, the Pentagon) seemed to have followed your absent lead.  That was all negative evidence, though, that you weren’t doing anything to help Americans under Jihadist attack in Libya.  That is, there was no smoking gun pointing to your involvement and subsequent dereliction of duty as Commander in Chief.  But now there is (emphasis mine):

The Benghazi debacle boils down to a single key factor — the granting or withholding of “cross-border authority.” This opinion is informed by my experience as a Navy SEAL officer who took a NavSpecWar Detachment to Beirut.

Once the alarm is sent  – in this case, from the consulate in Benghazi — dozens of HQs are notified and are in the planning loop in real time, including AFRICOM and EURCOM, both located in Germany. Without waiting for specific orders from Washington, they begin planning and executing rescue operations, including moving personnel, ships, and aircraft forward toward the location of the crisis. However, there is one thing they can’t do without explicit orders from the president: cross an international border on a hostile mission.

That is the clear “red line” in this type of a crisis situation.

Please read the whole thing.  What’s apparent is that, as a matter of law, the only person who could have helped in Benghazi was the president himself.  The President’s authority in this regard is the equivalent of the famous nuclear brief case or red phone or red button that featured so prominently in voters’ minds during the Cold War years.  Back then were always asked to consider “whose hand should be on the button.”

Regarding Benghazi, everyone else could plan and argue and organize, but only the President had the power to make it happen.  And nothing happened.  Hillary was right:  it was 3 a.m. and Obama didn’t answer the phone.  Damn him!

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*A spokesman for the National Security Council denies that there was a real-time video feed.

A very good idea for recognizing Woods’ and Doherty’s bravery and sacrifice

The Mellow Jihadi suggests official recognition for the unusual bravery Lance Woods and Glen Doherty showed in their final hours.  I realize that such recognition will not bring these men back, but acknowledging their sacrifice is something we do for the good of the country.  If we cannot honor those who died in our service, and if we cannot give exceptional honors to those who died in exceptional ways, we are not deserving of their sacrifice.  I would also extend some official recognition to Sean Smith and Christopher Stevens, both of whom died in the service of their country — and abandoned by their country.

Of course, this being Obama’s Benghazi, Bruce Kesler points out a few teeny-weeny problems with giving these men the posthumous credit they so valiantly earned.

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.