White House spokesman Jay Carney evades questions about Benghazi attack
White House spokesman Jay Carney evaded questions on Friday about President Barack Obama’s actions during the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi.
Carney also tried to dismiss the successful jihadi assault as an “incident.”
“The incident in Benghazi — the attack on our diplomatic facility — has been and is under investigation by the FBI,” Jay Carney told NBC White House correspondent Jake Tapper during the midday press conference.
There’s growing interest in President Barack Obama’s response to the assaults, which began late on Sept. 11. The attacks killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and a State Department aide, as well as two U.S guards at a nearby CIA facility.
The initial assault on the consulate was quickly reported to Washington while Obama was holding a 5.00 p.m. meeting with Pentagon officials.
Obama later talked for a hour with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as part of a campaign to reassure Jewish voters prior to the election. That phone call finished up around 8 p.m.
Pentagon officials, including Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta returned to the Pentagon to oversee the military’s response to the assaults, according to a Nov. A.P. report based on official documents. http://dailycaller.com/2012/11/09/us-military-arrived-14-hours-after-benghazi-attack/
But there’s no record of Obama meeting again with national security officials while the jihadis attacked the nearby CIA building, dubbed the “annex.”
At the annex, two CIA guards were killed just before dawn, following a mortar strike on the annex.
No military support was sent to the beleaguered sites from outside Libya, despite ample time to fly soldiers and combat aircraft from nearby Italy.
Pentagon officials did not implement one common tactic — sending in low-flying jets to intimidate the jihadis — routinely used in the Iraq and Afghan campaigns.
A CIA statement said the agency did not refuse to provide support, suggesting that White House may have barred any military support.
One argument for restraint is that any U.S. strike on jihadis in Benghazi would have helped the jihadis undermine the weak Libyan government by portraying them as accomplices to a U.S. airstrike against Islamic holy warriors.
The Libya government is weak, in part, because Obama used air power — not ground forces — to overthrow the previous Libyan autocracy, run by Moammar Gadhafi. Without U.S. ground troops or a Libyan army, jihadis groups established themselves during the civil war, especially around Benghazi.
Tapper pressed Carney for information about Obama’s actions Sept. 11 evening, but Carney declined to provide details — even about whether Obama met with security officials late that night.
“There was a five o’clock meeting, but then what about after that?” asked Tapper.
“The president was made aware of developments throughout the evening and days ensuing, so I’m not sure what your question is specifically,” Carney replied.
That reply left open the possibility that Obama withdrew into his private study in the family quarters after the Netanyahu phone call.
Obama often uses the study to make decisions, based on written reports.
Prior to the Sept. 11, Obama had scaled back meetings with intelligence officials. White House officials later said he was kept up to date on intelligence reports, even without meetings.
“Nobody is more interested than the president in making sure that the [Sept. 11] facts are collected, that we find out exactly what happened,” Carney declared on Friday.
“So we’re never going to get a tick-tock [of events that night]?” Tapper pressed.
“I don’t have a date certain for you for when those investigations will continue,” Carney said.
The two investigations into the assault do not encompass Obama’s actions that evening.