WASHINGTON— Newly declassified Benghazi documents reveal Obama was told only that the attack in Libya was a terror attack, not a reaction to a video. The former head of AFRICOM, General Carter Ham, told the House Armed Services Committee that the White House situation room was alerted immediately after the attack.
“The attack started at 9:42. I don It see any mention here about a demonstration, just simply an attack. Do you know if there was some kind of demonstration before this attack?” asked Chairman Martha Roby (R-AL).
“I am not aware of one, sir. It became pretty apparent to me, and I think to most at Africa Command pretty shortly after this attack began, that this was an attack,” General Ham responded.
The House Armed Services Committee today released a series of declassified Benghazi documents detailing transcripts from briefings on the September 11, 2012 attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya. The briefings were conducted by the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations then chaired by Rep. Martha Roby, with all members openly invited and present at testimony.
“My first call was to General Dempsey, General Dempsey’s office to say, hey, I am headed down the hall. I need to see him right away. I told him what I knew. We immediately walked upstairs to meet with Secretary Panetta,” Ham testified at the hearing. It was just about 10:00 PM ET.
That’s noteworthy, because Panetta testified to Congress that he spoke to President Obama in the 10 o’clock hour, which is after General Ham relayed the information regarding the attack, with no mention of a video being the spark behind some spontaneous demonstration.
The testimony given by General Ham does mention a video, but not as a factor behind the attack. In fact, an overly cynical view may be skeptical of whether or not Leon Panetta gave the president or his staff the idea of scapegoating a video for the Benghazi attack.
“My recollection, sir, is that there was — there was some discussion about it, but it was peripheral, frankly, to our conversation,” Ham said. It was on the “peripheral” because, there was clearly no demonstration prior to the attack, just the actual attack, which was coordinated by trained operatives.
The White House spokesman Jay Carney would tell reporters the week after the attack that President Obama promptly went to sleep just after speaking with former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta before heading off to Nevada for a fundraiser the next morning.
The briefings, which took place over the course of several months, were part of the Committee’s examination of the actions of the military chain of command before, during, and after the attack. A report summarizing the conclusion of the HASC Oversight & Investigations majority Members draw from these briefings is expected to be released later this week.