The president said, “Do whatever you need to do to be able to protect our people there,” and that was that. He and Panetta didn't speak again that night — and neither Dempsey nor Panetta spoke to Clinton at all.
Military options not discussed
Under questioning by Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Panetta added that the president didn't ask about military options or deploying assets. “He just left that up to us,” said Panetta.
As chief executive, Obama may have felt he delegated appropriately. Let the military handle it. But he is also the commander in chief. When our ambassador is being attacked, our country is being attacked. Should he have done more? Might he have made a call to Stevens or someone else on the ground? Obama didn't hesitate to call Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke two days after she was attacked on-air by radio host Rush Limbaugh. As Fluke reported, the president “wanted to make sure that I was OK.”
Two days after would have been too late for Stevens, of course, but one is a real-war theater and the other is merely political. To each his own arena.
To Clinton's query — conceding the unfair advantage of Monday morning quarterbacking — it is just and necessary to fill in the holes left gaping in Benghazi. Ultimately, the real truth may be, as one current ambassador put it to me, “Bad things happen in bad places.”
Does it make any difference how or why four Americans were murdered in Libya? My guess is Ambassador Stevens would say that it does.
WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP