According to Bing West, President Obama and his national-security team in Washington were listening by phone and watching real-time video from a drone while the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was under attack.
On September 11, at about 10 p.m. Libyan time (4 p.m. in Washington), Ambassador Chris Stevens and a small staff were inside our consulate in Benghazi when terrorists attacked. The consulate staff immediately contacted Washington and our embassy in Tripoli. The White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, and numerous military headquarters monitored the entire battle in real time via the phone calls from Benghazi and video from a drone overhead.
Our diplomats fought for seven hours without any aid from outside the country. Four Americans died while the Obama national-security team and our military passively watched and listened. The administration is being criticized for ignoring security needs before the attack and for falsely attributing the assault to a mob. But the most severe failure has gone unnoticed: namely, a failure to aid the living.
How could they have done nothing? How could Obama have done nothing and then jetted off to campaign event the next day? And who was watching? If by "the Obama national-security team" Mr. West meant the National Security Council, that would mean the following people were watching the attack in real time:
The NSC is chaired by the president, and includes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Could all of them have passively watched? The infamous 3:00am phone call came in conveniently around 4:00 in the afternoon, and still no help?
The fight began at 10 p.m. and petered out at dawn when the Libyan militia came to the aid of the Americans.
It is bewildering that no U.S. aircraft ever came to the aid of the defenders. If even one F18 had been on station, it would have detected the location of hostiles firing at night and deterred and attacked the mortar sites. For our top leadership, with all the technological and military tools at their disposal, to have done nothing for seven hours was a joint civilian and military failure of initiative and nerve.
What could they have been thinking in the White House?