WOODWARD: There are lots of unanswered questions. And I love documents, and they released some documents in this, and if you go and look at the original request for more security, they say our policy, our goal here is to shift from an emergency footing to normalize the security relationship.Now, look at what Senator Lindsey Graham said on "Face the Nation":
Now, this is in March, six, seven months ago. Anyone looking at that what say, wait a minute, read the document in which they say, oh, the situation is incredibly unstable. Well, why are you trying to normalize your security in a situation that's visibly unstable? You even acknowledge that.
So you've got a bad policy. And anyone looking at that would say, wait a minute; we are screwed up; we can't normalize here.
So that's the first problem. The second problem is, as soon as an ambassador is killed, the president should be more proactive and be out there. He can go, you know, five minutes in the White House briefing room and say this is really serious; we're going to get to the bottom of it; we don't have the answers. And all of this could have been nipped in the bud and it was not.
[MODERATOR CHRIS] WALLACE: And what do you make of the fact that, five days later, Susan Rice goes out and tells this story about a spontaneous protest, when we now know the State Department never thought there was a spontaneous protest? In fact, we know -- and they were in touch, in real time, with people on the ground in Benghazi on the 11th.
WOODWARD: I haven't -- you know, I don't think we know exactly why she did that or what was going on. But the key... is, two weeks later, the president's at the U.N. and citing this YouTube video, I guess half a dozen times. That, as we now know, had virtually nothing to do with what happened in Benghazi.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, the facts are there was never a riot. The-- the night in question, September 11th, Ambassador Stevens was being visited by the Turkish ambassador that wasn't the sole around the compound and the coordinated attack lasted for hours with al Qaeda-associated militia. My belief is that that was known by the administration within twenty-four hours and, quite frankly, Susan Rice, on your show on September 16th, the President on the 18th and the 25th, kept talking about an attack inspired by a video. They're trying to sell a narrative, quite frankly, that the Mid East, the wars are receding and al Qaeda has been dismantled, and to admit that our embassy was attacked by al Qaeda operatives and Libya leading from behind didn't work I think undercuts that narrative. They never believed that media would investigate. Congress was out of session, and this caught up with them. I think they've been misleading us, but it finally caught up with them.Shieffer plays video of Susan Rice, 5 days after the attack, saying "We did not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned."
... Al Qaeda is alive. Bin Laden may be dead. Al Qaeda is alive and they're counter-attacking throughout the entire region. And the truth is that the foreign policy choices of President Obama is allowing the region to come unraveled.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Where did you get this information that led you to this conclusion? Did you talk to officials there? Did you talk to people in the CIA? Did you talk to people in the administration? How are you so convinced of-- of what you have just stated?
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: The intelligence community on the ground in Libya has told Senator Corker and myself that within twenty-four hours, they communicated up to Washington that this was a terrorist attack. The president of Libya on the same date said it was a terrorist attack. The video of the compound shows that there was nobody at the Benghazi consulate. There was never a group to riot. And the evidence is overwhelming, and the idea that it was spawned by a- a video and a riot would be-- hold the administration blameless. They said it was a copycat of Cairo. It wasn't a copycat. It was a sustained attack that lasted for six or eight hours, using heavy weapons which undercuts the idea that al-- al Qaeda has been dismantled and on the run and it certainly undercuts the idea that our policy choices in Libya have not going after the militia, not helping the Libyans training the national army were good choices.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, it's not just Susan Rice. The President of the United States said that it was the result of a video on David Letterman two days later. And the facts are very clear. There was never a riot. There was never a group of people around the embassy. It was a coordinated terrorist attack that took hours. Patrick Kennedy from the State Department briefed congressional staffers the day after the attack saying it was a terrorist attack. The next day after she was on your show, the-- the counterterrorism deputy said it was a terrorist attack and the President after that went on national TV The View and David Letterman talking about we're not sure if this was inspired by a video, a hateful video.Amazing that Obama was doing this on "Letterman" and "The View" — the day after the attack!
The reason they're trying to sell this, if it is true it was an al Qaeda-inspired attack that was coordinated involving heavy weapons that lasted six-to-eight hours and our embassy consulate was so exposed and they had denied numerous requests to reinforce it, is Exhibit A of a failed foreign policy. I have seen this movie before. I went to Iraq in 2004 and everybody told me things are going fine. This is just a few dead-enders. Iraq was falling apart and you couldn't get the truth from the Bush administration. The Mid East is falling apart, and they're trying to spin what happened in Libya because the truth of the matter is al Qaeda is alive and well and counter-attacking.Connect what Woodward and Graham said. Woodward said the administration withheld security from Libya because they wanted to make things look normal, to convey a message that the conflict had wound down. And Graham is saying the video story was a message — a narrative — a story that they wanted to tell. It was the story that al Qaeda is vanquished, that the mission is accomplished.
Iraq, they have been doubling of al Qaeda operatives in Iraq since we left, twenty-five hundred. Iran is flying over Iraqi air space to deliver weapons to Syria. Syria's becoming thirty thousand people dead and foreign fighters moving into Syria. The Iranians have quadrupled the amount of enriched uranium they have to build bombs, as the Obama administration talks to them. This whole region is about to explode, al Qaeda is on the march. Northern Mali is now under the control of radical Islamists that make the Taliban look like choir boys. So they're trying to sell something, (INDISTINCT) the facts on the ground will not justify. When John Kerry said at the Democratic National Convention ask bin Laden is he better off. They're trying to spike the ball after killing bin Laden create a false narrative about the true state of al Qaeda and it all caught up with them in Libya.
Now, here's Congressman Darrell Issa, also on "Face the Nation." He was refuting the Democratic talking point that attributes lack of security to a GOP budget cut.
REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA (Government Reform & Oversight Committee Chairman): There's 2.2 billion in discretionary reprogrammable money that wasn't used. The fact is they are making a decision not to put security in because they don't want the presence of security.That's what Woodward said above.
In our hearing, and in testimony, we were told they removed their diplomatic plates because they wanted to be invisible. They didn't put any markings on this building that was attacked because they didn't want to have people know they were. That is not how you do security. After there was a twelve-foot hole blown in the wall of this compound, all they did was rebuild the wall, no new reinforcement, no kind of capability to protect somebody inside....ADDED: After Graham and Issa's powerful interviews, Schieffer informed us that the administration "declined" to send any onto the show to defend its position. So for the Democratic perspective, they had Congressman Elijah Cummings, who is the ranking Democrat on Issa's committee.
This is not very Republican, if you will, but when President George W. Bush went aboard an aircraft carrier and said, "mission accomplished" I listened rightfully so to people saying, look, but there's still problems, and they're still dying, and quite frankly, things got worse in many ways after that famous statement.
.... We're going through a mission accomplished moment.
REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS: Bob, first of all, what happened to Ambassador Stevens and the other three public servants was...I paused the recording and said: "He's about to say "tragedy.'"
... indeed a horrible tragedy.Before unpausing, Meade and I enumerated the talking points we thought he was about to deliver. The first was it was a tragedy, which you can see he said. We had 5 total, and Meade held the 5 fingers of his left hand aloft so he could tick them off. And Cummings said each one, even using the very words we thought he'd say (words other Democrats, notably Biden at the debate, had already used):
We will search their killers down and bring them to justice. The one thing we must not do, though, Bob, is make this out to be a-- and treated like a political football, and I think that's basically what's happening. We have a situation where we rushed to a hearing. We don't have substantial evidence, yet. We're still gathering evidence, coming to conclusions, and looking in search of facts and this is what has happened. But, again, we-- there's a lot to be answered. And I think you asked the right questions. Yeah, there are a lot of things that we need to address. But this is not the way to do. We have an FBI hearing going on, investigation going on, and Hillary Clinton, Secretary Clinton, has appointed an accountability review board to look at this. And we will get the answers. But the way we're doing it, I think, is basically based on a campaign schedule, trying to give Romney some talking points.Schieffer pummeled him with a great question:
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just ask you this, Congressman, and I say this with all respect--if there were a car wreck here on M. Street outside my office and I looked out the window and saw a car wreck out there, I wouldn't have to wait till the cops came to know it was a car wreck. I mean it was a car wreck. There were two dozen people in that compound there. They had windows. They could look out the window. They could see that there was no demonstration going on. And, yet, it was not until last week that the administration admitted that this was a preplanned terrorist attack and not a spontaneous demonstration.What can he say? Something about "an evolving situation," which is just absurd, because how does the story of the anti-YouTube-video demonstration ever get started? You start with nothing — don't you? — and then add details. Schieffer says "well" and Cummings goes into spluttering mode:
But, Bob, Bob, you know, I just listened to that interview, both of those interviews, and-- and this conspiracy stuff is kind of ridiculous, to be honest with you.This sounds desperate. Graham and Issa were articulate, and all Cummings has is the accusation that their legitimate questions are "conspiracy stuff" and "a witch-hunt." It's insulting and lame.