Fiat justitia ruat caelum
Throughout the night, sources say Americans on the ground in Libya at times felt helpless and abandoned.
“We relied on Washington for dispassionate assessment,” one eyewitness told CBS News. “Instead, they [Washington officials] were asking us what help we needed. We answered: ‘Send reinforcements!’ ”
But they were told immediate help wasn’t available.
Embassy personnel say they repeatedly asked the Defense Attache on site in Tripoli for military assistance.
“Isn’t there anything available?” one Embassy official says he asked. “But the answer was ‘no.’”
“What about Aviano?” the official pressed, referencing the NATO air base with US assets in northeastern Italy. “No,” was the answer.
Two of the four Americans killed that night died hours after the first attack began…
…Counterterrorism sources and internal emails reviewed by CBS News express frustration that key responders were ready to deploy, but were not called upon to help in the attack. National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor told CBS News the CSG was not needed.
Source: CBS News
Below are the released excerpts from Hicks’ April interview with congressional investigators on the House Oversight Committee.
Q: But do you think, you know, if an F-15, if the military had allowed a jet to go fly over, that it might have prevented [the second attack]?
A: Yeah, and if we had gotten clearance from the Libyan military for an American plane to fly over Libyan airspace. The Libyans that I talked to and the Libyans and other Americans who were involved in the war have told me also that Libyan revolutionaries were very cognizant of the impact that American and NATO airpower had with respect to their victory. They are under no illusions that American and NATO airpower won that war for them. And so, in my personal opinion, a fast-mover flying over Benghazi at some point, you know, as soon as possible might very well have prevented some of the bad things that happened that night.
Q : The theory being, the folks on the ground that are doing these — committing these terrorist attacks look up, see a heavy duty airplane above, and decide to hightail it?
A: I believe that if — I believe if we had been able to scramble a fighter or aircraft or two over Benghazi as quickly as possible after the attack commenced, I believe there would not have been a mortar attack on the annex in the morning because I believe the Libyans would have split. They would have been scared to death that we would have gotten a laser on them and killed them.
Q: I just wanted to ask, you mentioned permission from the Libyans. Why is that important? What did you mean by that?
A: Well, it’s their country. And for an American military aircraft to fly over their country, we have to have permission from them to do so.
Q: So what would have been the risk of — do you think it would have been risky for us to send someone, do you think it would have been counterproductive for us to send a fighter pilot plane over Benghazi without that permission?
A: We would have certainly wanted to obtain that permission. I believe we would have gotten it if we had asked. I believe that the Libyans were hoping that we were going to come bail them out of this mess. And, you know, they were as surprised as we were that American — the military forces that did arrive only arrived on the evening of September 12. Yeah.
Q: So, at this point [at approximately 10:00 pm in Tripoli], you are talking to Washington, you are talking to your RSO Martinec, you are talking to RAO. Are you talking to the Defense Attache?
A: The Defense Attache is there, and he is immediately on the phone to Ministry of Defense and to chief of staff of the Libyan Armed Forces. He also notifies Joint Staff and AFRICOM. Our SOCAFRICA lead, Lieutenant Colonel Gibson, connects with SOCAFRICA in Stuttgart, as well. And, obviously, RAO is also connected back home.
Q: Was there ever any thought at that time of the night to have an F-16, you know, fly over?
A: I called — when we knew that — I talked with the Defense Attache, Lt. Col. Keith Phillips, and I asked him, “Is there anything coming?” And he said that the nearest fighter planes were Aviano, that he had been told that it would take two to three hours to get them airborne, but that there were no tanker assets near enough to support a flight from Aviano.
A: And for the second time that night [Before 5:15 AM attack], I asked the Defense Attache, is there anything coming, is there anything out there to help our people from, you know, big military? And the answer, again, was the same as before.
Q: And what was that answer?
A: The answer was, it’s too far away, there are no tankers, there is nothing, there is nothing that could respond.
Q: So you had mentioned that the first team from Tripoli to Benghazi arrived at 1:15?
Q: And was there a second team that was organized? Could you tell us about the second team?
A: Right. The second team — the Defense Attache worked assiduously all night long to try to get the Libyan military to respond in some way. Early in the morning — sorry, after we were formally notified by the Prime Minister, who called me, that Chris had passed, the Libyan military agreed to fly their C-130 to Benghazi and carry additional personnel to Benghazi as reinforcements. Because we at that time — at that time, the third attack, the mortar attack at 5:15, had not yet occurred, if I remember correctly.
Q: So what time did the second rescue team ??
A: Well, again, they flew — I think that flight took off sometime between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m.
Q: At that point, you are the Chief of Mission?
A: Yeah, I’m Chief of Mission effective 3:00 a.m.
Q: Now, did any of the Special Forces folks, were they planning at any time to travel on that second aircraft?
A: On the second, on the C-130? Yes. We fully intended for those guys to go, because we had already essentially stripped ourselves of our security presence, or our security capability to the bare minimum …
A: So Lieutenant Colonel Gibson, who is the SOCAFRICA commander, his team, you know, they were on their way to the vehicles to go to the airport to get on the C-130 when he got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, you can’t go now, you don’t have authority to go now. And so they missed the flight. And, of course, this meant that one of the …
Q : They didn’t miss the flight. They were told not to board the flight.
A: They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it. So, anyway, and yeah. I still remember Colonel Gibson, he said, “I have never been so embarrassed in my life that a State Department officer has bigger balls than somebody in the military.” A nice compliment.
Q: Now, at this point, are you having communications with Washington?
A: I was in communications with Washington all night long. I was reporting all night long what was happening to Washington by telephone.
Q: When these Special Forces folks were told essentially to stand down, what was your next move? Did you have a recourse? Were you able to call Washington? Were you able to call anyone at this point to get that decision reversed?
A: No, because the flight was — the flight was leaving. And, you know, if they missed — you know, if the vehicles didn’t leave when they leave, they would miss the flight time at the airport. And the airport — you know, we were going all the way to Mitiga. The C-130 is at Mitiga, which is all the way on the other side of Tripoli.
Q: What was the rationale that you were given that they couldn’t go, ultimately?
A: I guess they just didn’t have the right authority from the right.
Source: CBS News
Three Benghazi survivors set to go before House committee to testify about 2012 attack identified as career State Department officials as their attorneys claim ‘Obama administration tried to silence them’
- Gregory N. Hicks was deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya
- Mark I. Thompson is a former Marine and now the deputy coordinator for Operations in Counterterrorism Bureau
- Eric Nordstrom is a diplomatic security officer who was the regional security officer in Libya
As the White House denies Benghazi survivors sought clearance to testify about what they saw, House Republicans schedule a hearing to listen to their stories
“… But Toensing, a former Justice Department official and Republican counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Fox News that administration officials are issuing ‘some very despicable threats to people … They’re taking career people and making them well aware that their careers will be over’ if they testify.
The State Department, she said during a separate Fox News interview, has ‘had two letters from Chairman Issa, one on April 16, the other one April 26, that specifically say, “We want you to provide a process for clearing a lawyer to receive classified information.”‘
‘How can they possibly get up there and just lie to the press corps?’ she asked, referring to the president and his spokespersons.
Toensing, according to her law partner who was interviewed Wednesday on ABC radio affiliate WMAL in Washington, already possesses a Top Secret clearance, and would only need a letter from an administration attorney in order to learn what her client already knows.
That law partner, former U.S. Attorney Joe DiGenova, explained on Monday that ‘the Department of State is refusing to grant clearances to Victoria and other people who want to represent the whistle-blowers, in an attempt to prevent the testimony.‘
On April 26, Congressman Issa sent a letter to the new Sec of State, John Kerry, demanding that the lawyers who are going to represent the whistle-blowers be cleared – be given clearances – so they can talk to their clients and the committee about classified information,’ DiGenova said.
‘She got a new Top Secret security clearance within the last year. And now they will not clear her or any of the other lawyers to represent the Department of State people. This is so outrageous.’
‘There is going to be a Constitutional showdown here,’ he predicted,’ and ‘Congress is going to win. The administration’s effort to cover up whatever happened in Benghazi is going to fail.’
‘The whistle-blowers are out there,’ DiGenova insisted. ‘These are great Americans. These are heroes. They were on the ground in Benghazi. They want to tell their story and the administration is going to do everything it can to stop them from testifying under oath in public. And they want to protect Hillary [Clinton] and the president. That’s what this is all about.’…”
Weekly Standard – By Stephen Hayes
“… Even as the White House strove last week to move beyond questions about the Benghazi attacks of Tuesday, September 11, 2012, fresh evidence emerged that senior Obama administration officials knowingly misled the country about what had happened in the days following the assaults. The Weekly Standard has obtained a timeline briefed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence detailing the heavy substantive revisions made to the CIA’s talking points, just six weeks before the 2012 presidential election, and additional information about why the changes were made and by whom.
As intelligence officials pieced together the puzzle of events unfolding in Libya, they concluded even before the assaults had ended that al Qaeda-linked terrorists were involved. Senior administration officials, however, sought to obscure the emerging picture and downplay the significance of attacks that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans…”
“… There is little information about what happened at that meeting of the Deputies Committee. But according to two officials with knowledge of the process, Mike Morrell, deputy director of the CIA, made broad changes to the draft afterwards. Morrell cut all or parts of four paragraphs of the six-paragraph talking points—148 of its 248 words (see Version 2 above). Gone were the reference to “Islamic extremists,” the reminders of agency warnings about al Qaeda in Libya, the reference to “jihadists” in Cairo, the mention of possible surveillance of the facility in Benghazi, and the report of five previous attacks on foreign interests.
What remained—and would be included in the final version of the talking points—was mostly boilerplate about ongoing investigations and working with the Libyan government, together with bland language suggesting that the “violent demonstrations”—no longer “attacks”—were spontaneous responses to protests in Egypt and may have included generic “extremists” (see Version 3 above).
If the story of what happened in Benghazi was dramatically stripped down from the first draft of the CIA’s talking points to the version that emerged after the Deputies Committee meeting, the narrative would soon be built up again. In ensuing days, administration officials emphasized a “demonstration” in front of the U.S. facility in Benghazi and claimed that the demonstrators were provoked by a YouTube video. The CIA had softened “attack” to “demonstration.” But as soon became clear, there had been no demonstration in Benghazi.
More troubling was the YouTube video. Rice would spend much time on the Sunday talk shows pointing to this video as the trigger of the chaos in Benghazi. “What sparked the violence was a very hateful video on the Internet. It was a reaction to a video that had nothing to do with the United States.” There is no mention of any “video” in any of the many drafts of the talking points…”
- US Embassy in Cairo quietly deletes its ‘we stand by our condemnation’ tweet; Update: More deleted tweets!
- Clinton: Anti-Islam Video ‘Disgusting’
- Senior administration official: The Cairo embassy’s statement does not reflect the view of the U.S. government; Update: Romney calls embassy statement
- Obama and Hillary Apologize for Free Speech on Pakistani TV
- Father of Fallen SEAL: Hillary Told Me They’d Get That Filmmaker Good
- WH: Obama Called Hillary at 10PM on Night of Benghazi Attack–About Same Time Clinton | CNS News
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman Trey Gowdy joins us. Nice to see you, Congressman.
REP. TREY GOWDY, R-S.C.: Good to see you. How are you?
VAN SUSTEREN: I’m very well. And I understand late breaking today, the news that on May 8th, there will be hearings before Chairman Issa’s committee. I assume it — will it be calling these whistleblowers to testify?
GOWDY: Well, I’m not going to — I’m not at liberty to disclose the identity of the witnesses. I will just say what I have said previously, which is it is going to be a very informational, instructive hearing. I would encourage you to follow it.
And Benghazi is warming up. It is not going away, despite the efforts of this administration.
VAN SUSTEREN: What makes it informational? I’ll try going around that way.
GOWDY: Well, Greta, you were a very accomplished attorney, and I think you know that hearsay evidence is not so interesting. First-hand accounts by eyewitnesses much more compelling, much more persuasive.
So I would again repeat for your audience and those who may be watching, if you also have firsthand knowledge about what happened in Benghazi, secure counsel, see Chairman Issa, get counsel. We’ll have it appointed. You will be protected.
So let me just say that next week will be a wonderful opportunity for us to hear non-hearsay accounts of what happened in Benghazi.
VAN SUSTEREN: I guess that leads, then, to my second question. Now – – now — now we know that it’s going to be people with firsthand account of Benghazi, so I assume that they were on the ground in Benghazi. I will make that assumption. I don’t know — you have not confirmed it or not, but I’ll make that assumption.
But the State Department has said that they have already — they’ve already investigated, the accountability review board, which was an outsourced group of people by the State Department, that they fully have investigated it.
Are you saying that you — that you are not accepting their investigation and that you yourself want to talk to the witnesses?
GOWDY: Oh, that’s an understatement, to say that we haven’t accepted it. Greta, how in the world can you have a comprehensive review of Benghazi when you don’t even bother to talk to the secretary of state? She wasn’t even interviewed by the so-called accountability review board!
There’s a reason that students don’t grade their own papers. There’s a reason defendants don’t sentence themselves. And there’s the reason the State Department doesn’t get to investigate itself, determine whether or not it made errors in Benghazi. That is Congress’s job.
So yes, it would be a — a — a wild understatement for us to say we do not have confidence in the accountability review board and its conclusions.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, one thing you and I have talked to off- camera on many occasions (INAUDIBLE) we talk about the courtroom and how different it is, is that you get to ask questions until you get the answer and you get — in Congress, you have, like, four minutes or five minutes. So nothing ever gets fully developed.
Have you considered sort of, like, you know, joining forces with some of your colleagues and someone taking all the — all the time so that the questions really can be asked, rather than the sort of — you do three minutes, the next person three minutes, and we never hear what happened?
GOWDY: We have had those conversations before. Of course, when you’re dealing with members of Congress, each one of them individually wants all the time. So I am fortunate to serve on Oversight with folks like Jimmy Jordan and Jason Chaffetz, who are very strong on a host of issues but don’t have courtroom experience.
And I think you are going to see a very well-prepared side of the dais for the Republicans on the hearing next week. I’ve been preparing all weekend for it. And as you say, I’ll only get five minutes. I’ve been approached by colleagues who would like to yield their time to me. Of course, the frustration is you get five minutes, and then you go to the other side. So whatever points you were making, you have to start all over again.
Chairman Issa has certain tools at his disposal which he doesn’t use very often, but they are tools nonetheless for us to have more continuity. This is such an important hearing that I expect and hope that Chairman Issa will use every arrow in his quiver to make sure that the audience doesn’t have this continual interruption of five minutes here and then five minutes changing the topic.
And I know firsthand, because there has been coordination among the members on the Republican side, how we can present this case as seamlessly as possible come next week.
(CNN) — Several Yemeni men belonging to al Qaeda took part in the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi last September, according to several sources who have spoken with CNN.
One senior U.S. law enforcement official told CNN that “three or four members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” or AQAP, took part in the attack.
Another source briefed on the Benghazi investigation said Western intelligence services suspect the men may have been sent by the group specifically to carry out the attack. But it’s not been ruled out that they were already in the city and participated as the opportunity arose…
According to one source, counterterrorism officials learned the identity of the men and established they had spent two nights in Benghazi after the attack. Western intelligence agencies began trying to track the men in the aftermath of the terrorist attack, but were always behind in their manhunt.
They were later traced to northern Mali, where they are believed to have connected with a fighting group commanded by Moktar Belmoktar, a prominent jihadist leader, according to a senior law enforcement source.
The trail appears to have then gone cold…
Another source briefed on the investigation had previously told CNN that Belmoktar had received a call in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack from someone in or close to the city. Whoever made the call was excited.
“Mabruk, Mabruk!” he repeated, meaning “Congratulations” in Arabic.
There is no proof the call was specifically about the attack, but the source says that is the assumption among those with knowledge of the call. One source says the phone call was discovered when a Western intelligence service trawled through intercepts of communications made in the wake of the attack…”
“…I realize that none of this is a revelation to anyone who has followed Benghazi closely. But it is startling to realize that the FBI really may be complicit in the ongoing cover-up. Yesterday’s photos show us a couple of things. One, the FBI apparently hasn’t gotten past square one in its Benghazi investigation, after eight months. Two, the government appears to have a policy of keeping the investigation from ever getting past square one. Why?
Set the effort to blame a YouTube movie aside for the moment. Set whether a “stand down” order was given during the attack or not aside for a moment. Why wouldn’t the U.S. government that pledges to bring the Benghazi terrorists to justice do so little to actually bring those terrorists to justice? What do they know that they’re still not willing to tell about that attack?
We’re going to need a select committee, maybe a special independent prosecutor, to get to the bottom of Benghazi. It will take strong subpoena power and needs to be outside the usual House or Senate committee processes and investigations. What we know or can surmise about Benghazi at this point indicates that the cover-up involves at least two cabinet level departments, Justice and State, a former cabinet official and two current ones, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Eric Holder.
This indicates that the intentional failure to investigate is ultimately being ordered and coordinated above both — in the White House. Jay Carney said as much this week when he dismissed Benghazi, saying it happened “a long time ago,” and said that State has told the White House that it knows of no one who has come forward wanting to talk. If they weren’t aware of it before this week, which is implausible, they certainly are now…”
April 8, 2013
To: Members of The U.S. House of Representatives
Subject: The Benghazi attacks on 9/11/ 2012
The undersigned are a representative group of some 700 retired Military Special Operations professionals who spent the majority of their careers preparing for and executing myriad operations to rescue or recover detained or threatened fellow Americans. In fact, many of us participated in both the Vietnam era POW rescue effort, The Son Tay Raid, as well as Operation Eagle Claw, the failed rescue attempt in April of 1980 in Iran, so we have been at this for many years and have a deep passion for seeking the truth about what happened during the national tragedy in Benghazi.
The purpose of this letter is to encourage all members of the US House of Representatives to support H.Res. 36, which will create a House Select Committee on the Terrorist Attack in Benghazi. It is essential that a full accounting of the events of September 11, 2012, be provided and that the American public be fully informed regarding this egregious terrorist attack on US diplomatic personnel and facilities. We owe that truth to the American people and the families of the fallen.
It appears that many of the facts and details surrounding the terrorist attack which resulted in four American deaths and an undetermined number of American casualties have not yet been ascertained by previous hearings and inquiries. Additional information is now slowly surfacing in the media, which makes a comprehensive bipartisan inquiry an imperative. Many questions have not been answered thus far. The House Select Committee should address, at a minimum, the following questions:
1. Why was there no military response to the events in Benghazi?
a. Were military assets in the region available? If not, why not?
b. If so, were they alerted?
c. Were assets deployed to any location in preparation for a rescue or recovery attempt?
d. Was military assistance requested by the Department of State? If so, what type?
e. Were any US Army/Naval/USMC assets available to support the US diplomats in Benghazi during the attack?
f. What, if any, recommendations for military action were made by DOD and the US Africa Command?
2. What, if any, non-military assistance was provided during the attack?
3. How many US personnel were injured in Benghazi?
4. Why have the survivors of the attack not been questioned?
5. Where are the survivors?
6. Who was in the White House Situation Room (WHSR) during the entire 8-hour period of the attacks, and was a senior US military officer present?
7. Where were Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey during the crisis, and what inputs and recommendations did they make?
8. Where were Tom Donilon, the National Security Advisor, Denis McDonough, his deputy, Valerie Jarrett and John Brennan during the attacks, and what (if any) recommendations or decisions did any of them make?
9. Why were F-16 fighter aircraft based in Aviano, Italy (less than two hours away) never considered a viable option for disruption (if not dispersal) of the attackers until “boots on the ground” (troop support–General Dempsey’s words) arrived?
10. Were any strike aircraft (such as an AC-130 gunship) in the area or possibly overhead that would cause former SEAL Tyrone Woods to laser-designate his attacker’s position and call for gunship fire support, thereby revealing his own location that led to his death?
11. Who gave the order to “STAND DOWN” that was heard repeatedly during the attacks?
12. What threat warnings existed before the attack, and what were the DOD and DOS responses to those warnings? What data (which will reveal exact timelines and command decisions) is contained within the various SITREPS, records, logs, videos and recordings maintained by the myriad of DOD, Intelligence Community and State Department Command Centers that were monitoring the events in Benghazi as they unfolded?
13. Why did the Commander-in Chief and Secretary of State never once check in during the night to find out the status of the crisis situation in Benghazi?
14. What was the nature of Ambassador Stevens’ business in Benghazi at the time of the attack?
15. What guidance has been provided to survivors and family members since the time of the attack, and who issued that guidance?
16. Why are so many agencies now requiring their personnel that were involved in or have access to information regarding the events that took place in Benghazi sign Non-Disclosure Agreements?
This was the most severe attack on American diplomatic facilities and personnel since the attacks on the US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998. Thus far, it appears that there has been no serious effort to determine critical details of this attack. This is inexcusable and demands immediate attention by the Congress. Congress must show some leadership and provide answers to the public as to what actually occurred in Benghazi. Americans have a right to demand a full accounting on this issue.
A longstanding American ethos was breached during the terrorist attack in Benghazi. America failed to provide adequate security to personnel deployed into harm’s way and then failed to respond when they were viciously attacked. Clearly, this is unacceptable and requires accountability. America has always held to the notion that no American will be left behind and that every effort will be made to respond when US personnel are threatened. Given our backgrounds, we are concerned that this sends a very negative message to future military and diplomatic personnel who may be deployed into dangerous environments. That message is that they will be left to their own devices when attacked. That is an unacceptable message.
The House Select Committee should focus on getting a detailed account of the events in Benghazi as soon as possible. H. Res. 36 will provide a structure for the conduct of a thorough inquiry of Benghazi and should be convened immediately.
We ask that you fulfill your responsibilities to the American people and take appropriate action regarding Benghazi. With over sixty members of the US House of Representatives calling for this Select Committee already, it seems that the time is right to take appropriate action on Benghazi.
Sign the Petition – http://specialoperationsspeaks.com/petition/benghazigate-petition
End the Benghazi Cover-up
Months after the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, critical questions still remain unanswered: Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Virginia) has introduced a congressional resolution, H. Res. 36, calling for the establishment of a special Congressional committee to investigate the Benghazi attack and the Obama administration’s handling of it in the weeks that followed. It’s an opportunity for a comprehensive investigation that connects all the dots, and holds people accountable. Over 120 Members of Congress have co-sponsored H. Res. 36. If your representative is not one of them, please take a moment to encourage him/her to do so.
JOIN Over 700 Special Ops Veterans to DEMAND A Select Committee for Benghazi! SIGN THE PETITION TO END THE COVER-UP TODAY!
2nd Presidential Debate
QUESTION: We were sitting around, talking about Libya, and we were reading and became aware of reports that the State Department refused extra security for our embassy in Benghazi, Libya, prior to the attacks that killed four Americans.
Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?
OBAMA: Well, let me first of all talk about our diplomats, because they serve all around the world and do an incredible job in a very dangerous situation. And these aren’t just representatives of the United States, they are my representatives. I send them there, oftentimes into harm’s way. I know these folks and I know their families. So nobody is more concerned about their safety and security than I am.
So as soon as we found out that the Benghazi consulate was being overrun, I was on the phone with my national security team and I gave them three instructions.
Number one, beef up our security and procedures, not just in Libya, but at every embassy and consulate in the region.
Number two, investigate exactly what happened, regardless of where the facts lead us, to make sure folks are held accountable and it doesn’t happen again.
And number three, we are going to find out who did this and we’re going to hunt them down, because one of the things that I’ve said throughout my presidency is when folks mess with Americans, we go after them.
OBAMA: Now Governor Romney had a very different response. While we were still dealing with our diplomats being threatened, Governor Romney put out a press release, trying to make political points, and that’s not how a commander in chief operates. You don’t turn national security into a political issue. Certainly not right when it’s happening. And people — not everybody agrees with some of the decisions I’ve made. But when it comes to our national security, I mean what I say. I said I’d end the war in Libya — in — in Iraq, and I did.
I said that we’d go after al-Qaeda and bin Laden, we have. I said we’d transition out of Afghanistan, and start making sure that Afghans are responsible for their own security, that’s what I’m doing. And when it comes to this issue, when I say that we are going to find out exactly what happened, everybody will be held accountable. And I am ultimately responsible for what’s taking place there because these are my folks, and I’m the one who has to greet those coffins when they come home. You know that I mean what I say.
CROWLEY: Mr. President, I’m going to move us along. Governor?
ROMNEY: Thank you Kerry for your question, it’s an important one. And — and I — I think the president just said correctly that the buck does stop at his desk and — and he takes responsibility for — for that — for the failure in providing those security resources, and — and those terrible things may well happen from time to time. I — I’m — I feel very deeply sympathetic for the families of those who lost loved ones. And today there’s a memorial service for one of those that was lost in this tragedy. We — we think of their families and care for them deeply. There were other issues associated with this — with this tragedy. There were many days that passed before we knew whether this was a spontaneous demonstration, or actually whether it was a terrorist attack.
ROMNEY: And there was no demonstration involved. It was a terrorist attack and it took a long time for that to be told to the American people. Whether there was some misleading, or instead whether we just didn’t know what happened, you have to ask yourself why didn’t we know five days later when the ambassador to the United Nations went on TV to say that this was a demonstration. How could we have not known?
But I find more troubling than this, that on — on the day following the assassination of the United States ambassador, the first time that’s happened since 1979, when — when we have four Americans killed there, when apparently we didn’t know what happened, that the president, the day after that happened, flies to Las Vegas for a political fund-raiser, then the next day to Colorado for another event, other political event.
I think these — these actions taken by a president and a leader have symbolic significance and perhaps even material significance in that you’d hope that during that time we could call in the people who were actually eyewitnesses. We’ve read their accounts now about what happened. It was very clear this was not a demonstration. This was an attack by terrorists.
And this calls into question the president’s whole policy in the Middle East. Look what’s happening in Syria, in Egypt, now in Libya. Consider the distance between ourselves and — and Israel, the president said that — that he was going to put daylight between us and Israel.
We have Iran four years closer to a nuclear bomb. Syria — Syria’s not just a tragedy of 30,000 civilians being killed by a military, but also a strategic — strategically significant player for America.
The president’s policies throughout the Middle East began with an apology tour and — and — and pursue a strategy of leading from behind, and this strategy is unraveling before our very eyes.
CROWLEY: Because we’re — we’re closing in, I want to still get a lot of people in. I want to ask you something, Mr. President, and then have the governor just quickly.
Your secretary of state, as I’m sure you know, has said that she takes full responsibility for the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi. Does the buck stop with your secretary of state as far as what went on here?
OBAMA: Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job. But she works for me. I’m the president and I’m always responsible, and that’s why nobody’s more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I do.
The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.
And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.
And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do as Commander in Chief.
CROWLEY: Governor, if you want to…
ROMNEY: Yes, I — I…
CROWLEY: … quickly to this please.
ROMNEY: I — I think interesting the president just said something which — which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.
OBAMA: That’s what I said.
ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror.
It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying?
OBAMA: Please proceed governor.
ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.
OBAMA: Get the transcript.
CROWLEY: It — it — it — he did in fact, sir. So let me — let me call it an act of terror…
OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?
CROWLEY: He — he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take — it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.
ROMNEY: This — the administration — the administration indicated this was a reaction to a video and was a spontaneous reaction.
CROWLEY: It did.
ROMNEY: It took them a long time to say this was a terrorist act by a terrorist group. And to suggest — am I incorrect in that regard, on Sunday, the — your secretary —
ROMNEY: Excuse me. The ambassador of the United Nations went on the Sunday television shows and spoke about how —
OBAMA: Candy, I’m —
ROMNEY: — this was a spontaneous —
CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me —
OBAMA: I’m happy to have a longer conversation —
CROWLEY: I know you —
OBAMA: — about foreign policy.
CROWLEY: Absolutely. But I want to — I want to move you on and also —
OBAMA: OK. I’m happy to do that, too.
CROWLEY: — the transcripts and —
OBAMA: I just want to make sure that —
CROWLEY: — figure out what we —
OBAMA: — all of these wonderful folks are going to have a chance to get some of their questions answered.