Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.
Washington Post columnist Marc A. Thiessen asks, “What was President Obama doing during the eight hours that the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was under attack?”
He adds, “Amazingly, we still do not know 20 months later. But there is an easy way to find out – just ask the White House diarist.”
This is quite so. The diarist keeps detailed records of the president’s comings and goings, his telephone calls and his visitors, including their times or arrival and departure and topics discussed.
Thiessen’s column is speculative, but I am not so restricted. Our research assistant, Amy Handleman, has had a look at the diary for the day in question, plus transcripts of the president’s conversations. However, there are some redactions.
Anyway, please don’t tell Mr. Obama about Amy.
Do you want to know about those eight hours on Sept. 11, 2012? Here you go:
3:50 p.m.: (All hours are Eastern Standard Time.) Mr. (redacted) enters the Oval Office, informs the president “something is up.”
Redacted: Sir, something is up at our diplomatic facility in Benghazi.
President Obama: Ben Gazi? Who is that?
Redacted: It’s not a who, Mr. President. It’s a city – in Libya. Something is up there.
President Obama: You mean like, “What’s up, Doc?” Ha, ha.
Redacted: We’re not sure, but it could be an attack.
President Obama: Well, Let me know when you have something solid. Can’t you see I’m playing hearts with (redacted)?
Redacted: Yes, Sir.
5 p.m.: National Security Adviser Tom Donilon tells the president, “Our diplomatic facility in Benghazi is under attack, possibly by al-Qaida elements.
President Obama: Ben who … Oh, yeah. That city in Libya. But that kind of attack would be impossible. Al-Qaida is on the run.
Donilon: Of course, Mr. President, but maybe we ought to do something.
President Obama: You’re quite right. We’ll do what it always is best to do. We’ll wait several weeks, at least, until we’re absolutely sure what we’re dealing with. … Speaking of dealing, it’s (redacted’s) turn.
Donilon: I’ll get back to you.
President Obama: Uh huh …
6:07 p.m.: As the president leaves the Oval Office, (redacted) tells him that the State Department is attributing the attack to Ansar Al-Sharia.
President Obama: Good! I knew it wasn’t al-Qaida.
Redacted: Well, Sir, Ansar Al-Sharia is affiliated with al-Qaida.
President Obama: (Stamps his foot) But it isn’t al-Qaida. I’m going to dinner. Uh, keep me informed, of course.
8:30 p.m.: President Obama returns to the Oval Office to resume his game of hearts with (redacted).
8:35 p.m.: Mrs. Obama drops in to see the president.
Mrs. Obama: I hear something is up in Benghazi. Are you still playing that stupid game?!
President Obama: Ben … oh, yeah. But don’t worry. It isn’t al-Qaida. We’re playing cards because it helps me relax after a trying day as chief executive. Besides, we’re talking shop.
Mrs. Obama: OK. She withdraws.
11:45 p.m.: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls.
Clinton: Hey, Mr. President, it’s me, Hillary.
President Obama: Hey, Hil. What’s up. I was just getting ready to go to bed.
Clinton: Well, our ambassador to Libya is dead.
President Obama: No kidding! That’s too bad.
Clinton: And three other Americans have been killed in the attack on our Benghazi diplomatic facility.
President Obama: Do we know who did this?
Clinton: We’re not sure.
President Obama: As long as it wasn’t al-Qaida …
Clinton: It couldn’t have been. Al-Qaida is on the run.
President Obama: You’ve got it! Good night, Hillary.
Clinton: Good night, Mr. President.
Midnight: President Obama retires. End of diary, Sept. 11, 2012.
There are photographs of President Obama at the famed Oval Office “Resolute” desk (a gift from Queen Victoria, crafted from timbers of HMS Resolute). There is nothing on the otherwise clean desk but a telephone – and maybe a pen. Now you know why.
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