Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

May 28, 2013

The mystery night

On “Fox News Sunday” recently, White House aide Dan Pfeiffer was asked about President Barack Obama’s whereabouts the night of the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi.

This was the night when we lost our first ambassador in 30 years, and when three other Americans were killed in an attack lasting for hours at multiple locations. Since the president is commander in chief, one would think that where he was and what he did during such an event would be of obvious public concern.

Not according to Pfeiffer. He deemed the president’s location, and specifically whether he was in the Situation Room, “a largely irrelevant fact.” If it is so unimportant, why not simply tell us? It’s not as if we haven’t heard largely irrelevant information before.

Obama’s actions and non-actions on that terrible night are a blank spot in his presidency. We simply don’t know much about them, and the White House has always been perfectly content to leave it that way.

We know he was meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey on an unrelated matter at 5 p.m. Washington time, when he learned of the attack. In congressional testimony, Panetta said he had no contact with the president or the White House after that point. Dempsey said he didn’t hear from the president, either.

We know that the president talked to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at 10 p.m., when the assault that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and State Department computer expert Sean Smith was over but the mortar attack that killed two former U.S. Navy SEALs at another facility hadn’t yet taken place.

(We also know he had an hour-long conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, but according to the White House, the call was about Iran.)

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