Panetta: President Obama was absent night of Benghazi attack and did not check in once during the night of the deadly terror assault
By James Nye
PUBLISHED: 01:43 EST, 8 February 2013 | UPDATED: 09:18 EST, 8 February 2013
The outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta revealed on Thursday that President Obama was absent the night of the lethal attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya – despite being told that the attack was occurring.
Speaking in front of senators investigating the terror assault which saw four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens lose their lives, Panetta said that Mr. Obama did not call or communicate with his defense secretary that night either.
According to his testimony, Panetta said that he met with the president at 5.00 p.m. on September 11th and went through a meeting that lasted 30 minutes during which he informed Mr. Obama of the incident before he left the Department of Defense for the evening and did not check back in.
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According to Panetta’s recollection the two spent around 20 minutes discussing events at the American embassy in Egypt that was surrounded at the time and the situation that had just begun to unfold in Benghazi.
‘A Defense Department timeline says that Panetta and Dempsey had been informed of the terrorist attack in Benghazi at 4:32 p.m.–28 minutes before they went into their meeting with Obama,’ according to CNS News.
‘At today’s hearing, Panetta said he informed Obama of the attack when they entered their 5:00 p.m. meeting.
‘That was one hour and 18 minutes after the attack started and while it was ongoing.’
Panetta said to Senator Kelly Ayotte, that President Obama left operational details for Benghazi ‘up to us’ – implying that the situation was under the control of Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
‘Did you have any further communications with him that night?’ Senator Ayotte asked.
‘No,’ Panetta replied.
‘Did you have any other further communications? Did he ever call you that night to say how are things going, what’s going on, where’s the consulate?’ she followed-up with.
‘No,’ Panetta said in response. ‘But we were aware as we were getting information about what was taking place there, particularly when we got information that the ambassador, his life had been lost, we were aware that that information went to the White House.’
In addition, Panetta admitted to Senator Ayotte that there was no communication with anyone at the White House and that no one from the White House called for an update on the situation.
It was also revealed that neither the Secretary of Defense nor the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton once during the eight-hour attack on the consulate in Benghazi.
‘In between 9:42 p.m., Benghazi time, when the first attacks started, and 5:15 am, when Mr. Doherty and Mr. Woods lost their lives, what conversations did either of you have with Secretary Clinton?’ asked Senator Ted Cruz.
‘We did not have any conversations with Secretary Clinton,’ said Panetta.
General Dempsey also said he had no conversations with the former Secretary of State.
‘And General Dempsey, the same is true for you?’ Cruz asked. Dempsey confirmed this.