Central Intelligence Agency director David Petraeus has emphatically denied that he or anyone else at the CIA refused assistance to the former Navy SEALs who requested it three times as terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on the night of Sep. 11. The Weekly Standard and ABC News report that Petraeus’s denial effectively implicates President Barack Obama, since a refusal to assist “would have been a presidential decision.”
Earlier today, Denver local reporter Kyle Clarke of KUSA-TV did what the national media largely refuses to do, asking Obama directly whether the Americans in Benghazi were denied requests for aid. Obama dodged the question, but implied that he had known about the attacks as they were “happening.”
Emails released earlier this week indicated that the White House had been informed almost immediately that a terror group had taken responsibility for the attack in Benghazi, and Fox News reported this morning that the two former Navy SEALs, Ty Woods and Glen Doherty, had been refused in requests for assistance they had made from the CIA annex.
Jake Tapper quoted Petraeus this afternoon denying that the CIA was responsible for the refusal: “No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate.”
As William Kristol of the Weekly Standard notes, that leaves only President Obama himself to blame:
So who in the government did tell “anybody” not to help those in need? Someone decided not to send in military assets to help those Agency operators. Would the secretary of defense make such a decision on his own? No.
It would have been a presidential decision. There was presumably a rationale for such a decision. What was it? When and why—and based on whose counsel obtained in what meetings or conversations—did President Obama decide against sending in military assets to help the Americans in need?
Earlier today, Charles Woods, father of Ty Woods, called the White House’s explanations for events in Benghazi a “pack of lies” and implied that those in the administration who could have helped, but refused, were guilty of “murder.” He added:
My son violated his orders in order to protect the lives of at least 30 people. He risked his life to be a hero. I wish that the leadership in the White House had the same moral courage that my son displayed with his life.
Also today, the State Department shut down questions from reporters about Libya at a press briefing in Washington. The administration, as a whole, seems to have decided to say nothing further about Benghazi until after election–except for Petraeus, who was directly implicated by charges that the CIA failed to help, and who was thereby compelled to provide a response that points, inexorably, to the man in the Oval Office.