NEWSLINK: Panetta says he personally told Obama about Benghazi attack

Image of Interior Damage of U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, After Attack, adapted from VOA image at

[Panetta says he personally told Obama about Benghazi attack – Washington Times 2.7.13 – click here for article]

President Barack Hussein Obama reportedly was informed that an attack was unfolding on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, who was visiting Obama for a prearranged meeting at the time.

The Washington Times highlighted the news in coverage of an additional Senate hearing on the Sept. 11, 2013, terrorist attack by militants and its aftermath. Panetta and U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 7, 2013:

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta revealed on Thursday that he personally broke the news to President Obama that an attack was unfolding on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.

Mr. Panetta said he was given an alert about the attack just before arriving at the White House for an unrelated and prescheduled meeting with the president.

“It’s something I introduced to the president,” the defense secretary said, acknowledging for the first time that he and Mr. Obama were well aware that the attack was occurring while they met at the White House that day.

While Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) reportedly tried to focus attention on the fact that the terrorist militants who staged the attacks still have not been tracked down, the ranking minority member on the committee, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) expressed continued concern over what he terms a cover-up after the attacks:

Sen. James Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican and the committee’s ranking member, asserted otherwise.

“What I think is worse is the cover-up,” Mr. Inhofe said, adding that even as the events in Benghazi were unfolding, there could be no denying that the second wave of the attack, on the “annex” near the diplomatic post, was “unequivocally a terrorist attack.”

Mr. Inhofe asserted that Mrs. Rice knew this but went on a string of Sunday-morning talk shows five days later anyway to say “something that was completely false.”

“That’s something that can’t be ignored,” he said. “We sit around all day long and talk about the resources that we should have and don’t have. … [But] the big problem here is the cover-up, and nobody talks about it, and that’s a tragedy.”

The attacks, which occurred in at least two stages, resulted in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, State Department officer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.  Some areas of inquiry at the latest hearing include:

Apart from identifying and apprehending those who carried out the attack, the questions include:

• What happened to Stevens between being separated from his security detail during the attack and turning up dead several hours later at a Benghazi hospital?

• Who was watching the live-streaming feed of images from drones over the area of the attack that night?

• Which officials from the White House and the Pentagon were in the decision chain about how the U.S. military should respond?

• Was Mr. Obama involved in that decision chain in real time?

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