(POWERLINE) — As John and Scott point out, the CIA has issued a statement making it clear that “no one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need [in Benghazi]; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate.” That statement surely was issued with the approval, and presumably at the direction, of the CIA’s director, General Petraeus.
Who, then, made the several decisions denying help to the Americans in Benghazi who needed it? Who, initially, told CIA to “stand down” in face of the attack? Who decided that American defense forces an hour or two away in Southern Europe would not be deployed?
Bill Kristol argues that, at least with respect to not sending in the military, the decision must have been made by President Obama. Given what was at stake – the safety of Americans, including an ambassador, in the face of an attack by hostile forces – Kristol surely is right. It is inconceivable that none of the key actors — Secretary of Defense Panetta, Secretary of State Clinton, and General Petraeus — failed to present to Obama the decision of how to respond. And if Obama failed to make a decision, that would be more damning than making the wrong one.
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Kristol goes on to ask: “When and why—and based on whose counsel obtained in what meetings or conversations—did President Obama decide against sending in military assets to help the Americans in need?”
The key question is “why.”