In a more difficult interview than he has experienced in recent sessions with MTV, NBC News, Jay Leno, The View and other outlets, President Obama twice did not answer the question of whether his administration denied requests for help from Americans under attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11. That attack left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead. On Friday, Fox News reported that during the attack, the CIA turned down an “urgent request” for military back-up from agency operatives under fire in Benghazi.
In the interview, done Friday by Kyle Clark, a reporter for Denver’s WUSA-TV, Obama was asked a two-part question: “Were the Americans under attack at the consulate in Benghazi, Libya denied requests for help during that attack, and is it fair to tell Americans that what happened is under investigation and we’ll all find out after the election?”
Asking a two-part question always allows the subject to address one and ignore the other, and that is what Obama did. “The election has nothing to do with four brave Americans getting killed and us wanting to find out exactly what happened,” Obama said. “These are folks who served under me that I had sent to some very dangerous places. Nobody wants to find out more what happened than I do. But we want to make sure that we get it right, particularly because I have made a commitment to the families impacted as well as the American people. We’re going to bring those folks to justice. So we’re going to gather all the facts, find out exactly what happened, and make sure that it doesn’t happen again. But we’re also going to make sure that we bring to justice those who carried out these attacks.”
Actually, Obama answered neither question. So Clark asked the most important one again: “Were they denied requests for help during the attack?”
“Well, we are finding out exactly what happened,” Obama said. “I can tell you as I have said over the last couple of months since this happened, that the minute I found out what was going on, I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. Number two, we’re going to investigate exactly what happened to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Number three, find out who did this so we can bring them to justice. I guarantee you that everybody in the State Department, our military, CIA, you name it, had number-one priority making sure that people were safe. These are our folks. And we’re going to find out exactly what happened. But what we also are going to do is make sure that we are identifying those who carried out these terrible attacks.”
Clark then moved on to another topic. But the bottom line was that Obama was asked the question of the day — were Americans under attack denied help? — and he didn’t answer. Twice.