Posted Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, at 8:10 PM
Republicans spent a month arguing that Barack Obama had lied about the circumstances at the Benghazi consulate on September 11. That was a heavy carry, because it wasn't really true -- Obama had referred multiple times to "acts of terror." But the new criticism of the Obama response dials the clock back to the day of the attack, and it's compelling. Charles Woods, the father of Benghazi victim Tyrone Woods, has been calling up conservative talk radio to explain how his sun rushed into the fray and was denied back-up.
State Department official Charlene Lamb testified before Congress that officials in the consulate “were making multiple phone calls and it was very important that they communicate with the annex in Tripoli because this is where additional resources were coming from. So they would hang up on us and then call back.” A Defense Department official confirms that there an unarmed ISR (“intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance”) drone overhead over part of the assault in Benghazi.
Woods also said, “apparently even the State Department had a live stream and was aware of their calls for help. My son wasn’t even there. He was at a safe house about a mile away. He got the distress call; he heard them crying for help; that’s why he and Glen risked their lives to go that extra mile just to take care of the situation. And I’m sure that wasn’t the only one received that distress call—you know, ‘Come save our lives.’”
As Jake Tapper reports, the timeline and the facts are inconclusive. Woods, for example, claims that the Obama White House could see the attacks unfold in "real time." I've heard a lot of this conservative talk radio. Reports that a drone was overhead during part of the incident have created the impression that administration watched and did nothing. The administration denies it; the Department of Defense says that it moves resources but did not commit them in time. Based on what we know now, the decision, before September 11, to deny greater protection in Benghazi may have been the key one.
But the idea that the administration simply whiffed and left men to die is politically irresistable. An angry father is furthering the argument. I think we've moved from "why didn't the president call this terrorism" to "why didn't the president send in troops." Also, I think this is the reason for John Sununu's insta-blogged statement about Colin Powell's endorsement. Powell's support for Obama was more substantive than his support in 2008. He went out of his way to defend Obama's foreign policy. By muttering that Powell had only weighed in to help out a black dude, Sununu changed the headlines and denied a day of strong surrogate news on the issue the president's getting hit on.