Benghazi: Panetta stonewalls House committee chairman McKeon

Not talking.

The news keeps getting worse.  The Washington Free Beacon reports today that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has “blocked” four senior military officers from answering questions on the Benghazi attack posed by Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC).

McKeon asked the officers to provide answers to questions about security threats by the close of business Friday…

McKeon asked each of the four officers in separate letters whether prior to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi anyone under their command had notified the State Department or other agencies about growing dangers in Libya. …

He also wants to know if there were any requests to increase security in Libya for U.S. personnel. … [T]he letters to the four officers asked whether any military officers under their command had recommended “deployment of additional U.S. military forces to Libya due to the threat environment.”

Other questions focused on determining if the officers were aware that officers under their command recommended increasing security in Libya prior to the deadly attack …

“To your knowledge, has the Department of State or any other federal agency requested additional U.S. military forces to augment security for U.S. personnel in Libya?” McKeon asked.

Said a HASC aide:

It is nearly unprecedented that the office of the secretary of defense would prohibit a member of the uniformed military from answering direct questions posed by the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Indeed.  But what, if anything, about the Benghazi incident does have a precedent – outside of the other actions of the Obama administration, such as Fast & Furious?  We have reached the point at which the cynical behavior of this administration can’t be reinterpreted or spun.  There is no honest purpose for refusing to answer these questions from the House.  If the Obama executive is running an actual investigation, we’re at day 39 now after the 9/11/12 attack, and it’s past time to have answers.  There is no excuse for the administration’s behavior.

Why would Panetta and the White House use the stonewalling tactic with the House?  Presumably because the Democrat-held Senate has given them until after the election to answer its questions.  The calculating character of this reprieve from the Senate is obvious.

Many readers probably saw Bret Baier’s Fox News special Friday night on the Benghazi attack and its aftermath (video linked here).  For those who missed LTC Andrew Wood in the recent Congressional hearing – Wood, deployed through the National Guard, led a special security team for the US missions in Libya, until the team was withdrawn earlier this year by a State Department functionary (video of his testimony here) – Baier’s interview with him brings out clearly that State decided to cut the already-inadequate security force in Libya.  Wood advocated keeping his team in place, but State decided against it – even though the Defense Department was actually paying for it.

So McKeon’s questions to the Department of Defense are right on point, and the American people are owed the answers.  There is a certain pragmatism at work on both sides of the aisle right now; Democrats want to get through the election, and Republicans are likely to take a more perfunctory approach to the Benghazi issue if Mitt Romney wins on the 6th.  The public appetite for details – at least, any details we still don’t know this point – will probably wane once the people know the Obama administration is on the way out.

The gingerly treatment of the Obama administration by the MSM on this matter is a timely reminder that the MSM are not peopled with objective journalists.  If a Republican administration were backing and filling after the Benghazi fiasco, it would find no rest anywhere.  The attacks on it would be relentless.  We may say, “And rightly so!” – but the MSM seem incapable of calibration here: either they are in a frenetic feeding frenzy, hammering their own narratives as they “cover” the activities of a Republican administration, or they are declining to cover stories that obviously matter about a Democratic administration.  Too seldom anymore do we see from them the middle ground of sober, fair-minded, carefully assembled reporting.

But the most important take-away from the Benghazi fiasco is the nakedly cynical, self-serving behavior of the Obama administration.  Four Americans were killed, in a terrorist attack on a facility that should have been protected better, but – because of decisions made by Obama’s appointees – was not.  Instead of manning up to what happened and providing the answers that are owed to the people, the administration first built a specious narrative about why the attack was launched, as if that was what mattered, and then spent weeks claiming that it was too early to answer questions on almost any aspect of the topic.

Now the administration has directed senior military officers not to answer questions from Congress.  There is no conceivable reason for this, other than to stymie progress on the House’s inquiry.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air’s Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, and The Weekly Standard online.

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31 thoughts on “Benghazi: Panetta stonewalls House committee chairman McKeon”

  1. Of course its political and the only thing that can be done about it is the removal of Obama from office by electing Romney as his replacement.

    The MSM will continue their betrayal of the American public. The only way to end their behavior as the propaganda organ for the left is to buy a controlling interest in their parent companies. That would be GENERAL ELECTRIC (NBC), WESTINGHOUSE / CBS INC. (CBS), The Walt Disney Company (ABC), TIME-WARNER TBS – AOL, (CNN) all are publicly held companies.

    Conservatives buying a controlling interest in these publicly held companies would allow for top down replacement of the Boards, top and middle management. The peons will follow where the issuer of the paycheck demands. In all probability, this would be a decade long project but skillful implementation of a take-over strategy could be successful in yielding benefits in just a few short years.

    1. Not sure if I can agree it will help. The owners’ views don’t always make themselves felt on the coverage their papers provide. Sadly, I can’t any longer find the article listing conservative owners of liberal news outlets, but it seems the conservative owners generally give free rein to their publishers, whatever their views. Something to do with that durned ol’ First Amendment.

      1. The only conservative owner of a major news outlet is Murdoch’s Fox News. Owners with a majority interest certainly can ensure that their views are reflected in the news outlet and behind the scenes, do so. Nothing crassly overt, just a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with an unspoken understanding…

        No offense but IMHO, it’s naive to think otherwise.

  2. The Washington Free Beacon(??) didn’t report any such thing.

    It quoted a member of McKeon’s staff as making that charge.

    It gets worse when you get sloppy.

    1. Gosh, you’re right again! The article cites only a charge and the DoD response is surely being handled expeditiously. It’s probably already on McKeon’s desk. Try holding your breath until McKeon confirms receipt by COB yesterday. Shouldn’t be long now…

    2. The lead subtitle clearly says, in bold type, “House Armed Services chairman blocked from getting answers from senior military about threat warnings prior to Benghazi consulate attack”

      So the WFB did report exactlyas opticon stated.

      At what point in your calculus does a delay in response become obstruction and blocking?

      1. Geoffrey, you are aware that a sub-lede is not reporting, are you not?

        you do understand that it”s something usually left to junior editors?

        it’s reporting when an actual reporter gathers data that supports the veracity of it…..and a contention issued by a staff member of Mckeod, the day after the letters were sent out, ain’t reporting .

        the same story carries a Pantagon employee denying that the exec branch will not respond and has “blocked” anything.

        nothing in this utterly obscure and awfully born-yesterday website has a single bit of reporting that confirms the staff assertion.

        1. The sub-lede is an editorial summary and it IS part of the reportage. In many cases, the sub-lede is all that is read. The editors frequently edit the reporters story and often as much a part of the reportage, as the reporter(s).

          The contention by the staff member of Mckeod and the 24 hours given is a reaction to the ongoing stonewalling of the administration, such as H. Clinton’s vacuous briefing to the Senate Intel. Committee. The Pentagon employee’s denial is part of the stonewalling.

          Attacking the supposed obscurity of the website is irrelevant to the relevance of whether Panetta is blocking access to senior military officials. But your attack does reveal and prove that you
          are acting as an apologist.

          1. no Geoffrey, it is not part of reportage.

            try showing the reportage that verifies the staff claim. it ain’t there.

            all else in your comment is extraneous bandinage.

            1. Denial does not a rebuttal make.

              Every day that goes by without those senior military officials agreeing to appear before the committee, further verifies the staff claim.

              Everything in my comment was apropos, nor does simple dismissal a rebuttal make.

  3. What I find curious is Petraeus’s silence in all this. There are lots of stories about the CIA knowing what when, but his name isn’t linked to any of them. Has he been told to shut up? Are the CIA stories just kinda leaking out? Will he be called on to testify the week before the election? Strange. Passing strange…

    1. is CIA under the purview of the Armed Forces committee?

      and would McKeon really want to tangle ashholes with Petraeus and get smacked down by him?

  4. a guy sends out letters on Thursday and demands answers mailed back by Friday afternoon might just be screwing around a bit…… and there’s obviously not a whiff of partisan politics here, neither from McKeon nor any other reactionary Republican from California.

    1. Of course there’s partisan politics. The issue however transcends politics. The facts of the matter are clear, the administration purposely lied to the American people purely out of political reasons. They are stonewalling any investigation in order to delay the truth and the political damage that will result until after the election.

      This is even more serious than Watergate and yet you’re acting as an apologist for this administration.

      The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is responding to this travesty, not instigating it. To assign equivalence to political maneuvering is to dismiss the real issue; the incompetence and dishonesty of this administration.

            1. sorry BS, but House grandstanding for political purposes is very distinct from American loss of life and jackers trying to equate the two aren’t to be given scope for their disrespect.

          1. Yes, more serious than Watergate fuster.

            An administration involved in a campaign of disinformation and blatant lying to the American public.

            Politicization of the military.

            Refusal of the dead Ambassador’s requests for greater security.

            Refusal to admit that the Benghazi debacle is but the latest evidence of the reemergence of Al Qaeda across N. Africa.

            A foreign policy that is directly leading to the emergence of terrorist Iran as a nuclear capable state.

            The result of which will be a new nuclear arms race in the Middle East. New poll: Egyptians turning toward Iran, want nuclear weapons

            The repercussions and consequences of the administrations foreign policy that resulted in the Benghazi attack is profoundly important and the administrations campaign to sweep this issue under the rug is why this more significant than Watergate.

            Your obtuseness, denial and apologia changes than not in the slightest.

            1. BTW, Watergate was an act of relatively minor administration operatives, initially operating without Nixon’s knowledge or approval. Nixon’s culpability was in lying to the public in the cover-up.

              This is far more serious than Watergate.

        1. Well before the year ends and after the election, you mean. That’s politicization of both the military, which is a direct threat to our democracy, involving if tangentially the military in a politically motivated cover-up and politicization of foreign policy, which is the very thing the administration hypocritically accuses the Romney campaign of…

  5. From a patriotic point of view, this Libya business is starting to smell.
    I expected some king of response from the administration other than turning it into one of my youngster’s “who dunnit” stories. Well. there is still a chance the administration will pleasantly surprise us . I suppose.

    BHO would be this gun shy in dealing with a hot political potato like Benghazi, that could cost him the election? Doesn’t make sense. There is something here they really don’t want to come out. Probably has something to do with what a lightly guarded Ambassador was doing there in the first place. I’ve read some commentary on that, but no smoking gun yet.

    1. Your instincts may be right and if so, the administration will do their utmost to keep any smoking gun from emerging. If there is more to the story, it’s going to take an insider going public to reveal that smoking gun. In any case, the administration’s bungling is increasingly obvious. Benghazi by itself won’t destroy Obama’s chances for reelection but it may be the final nail in his political coffin.

    2. I’m still expecting some sort of military response by this Administration in Libya against the supposed perpetrators before the election. But if, as is being reported now, there is a CIA report 5 days after the incident trying to blame it on spontaneous outrage at the obscure internet video (despite all the eyewitness and video evidence) I would have a hard time trusting them now to tell me who was actually responsible and where they are so we could whack them.

      1. For GB, CV

        Since this is turning into my kid’s “who dunnit ?” or (judging by the developing blame game in DC), “But I didn’t do it Dad, he did” story, I’m going to go out on a limb, wild speculation.

        I’ve gotta hunch we can’t whack these characters cause somebody won’t let us. Too much dirt will come out, or too much money will be lost, or both.

        Who in the chain has played or trapped us I can’t be sure, but it’s probably damn embarrassing. I say this because it seems (according to certain info) that any retaliation was ordered to stand down.

        We know who these Libyan animals are…and who is behind them.

        Weapons ( including MANPADS, that we are supposedly not supplying in Syria), Al-Qaeda (Libyan mercenaries in Syria), Turkish conduit (the Ambassador happened to be with a Turkish diplomat that fateful evening), are ingredients in this soup (if I am correct).

        Did we back stab’em first somewhere and Benghazi was retaliation? Or did they back stab us first? If my instincts about Obama’s/Hillary’s way of doing things are correct, it is the former and Benghazi was payback.

        As I said, wild speculation

    1. Just as an attack on our embassy is an act of war, our violation of Libyan borders without permission would be an act of war. So what do you do if Libya says you can’t send military assistance to your ambassador who is under attack? Were our people sacrificed for political reasons?

      1. Libya is ‘indian country’ there is no government to commit an act of war against. The attack on our consulate is grounds for using military force to repel that attack.

        “CBS News has been told that, hours after the attack began, an unmanned Predator drone was sent over the U.S. mission in Benghazi, and that the drone and other reconnaissance aircraft apparently observed the final hours of the protracted battle…

        The Pentagon says it did move a team of special operators from central Europe to the large Naval Air Station in Sigonella, Italy, but gave no other details. Sigonella is just an hour’s flight from Libya. Other nearby bases include Aviano and Souda Bay. Military sources tell CBS News that resources at the three bases include fighter jets and Specter AC-130 gunships, which the sources say can be extremely effective in flying in and buzzing a crowd to disperse it.”

        The attack lasted 6 hours, relief was an hour away. Obama left his advisers to watch the attack, while he went to bed and the administration abandoned Ambassador Sevens and the Seals.

        Doing nothing to assist. This has been a cover-up, solely for political reasons, from day one. Utter contempt is less than Obama, his administration and the Joint Chiefs of Staff deserve. I include his top military commanders, the entire upper echelon, including CIA chief Petraeus and Panetta because had they any honor, they would have already resigned.

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