Obama MIA On 9-11 | Hagel Nomination On Cruz Control
It turns out that on the most important foreign policy challenge of his first term, Obama wasn’t even around to take such a call.
The Weekly Standard reported today on Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s testimony this morning before Congress. Panetta said that Obama was absent on the evening of September 11, 2012, when four Americans were killed in Benghazi.
Panetta said that, other than his previously scheduled 5 PM meeting with the president, he did not hear at all from the White House on September 11th, and that the commander-in-chief left everything, including knowledge of what resources were available to help the besieged Americans, “up to us.”
This news, revealed under oath, doesn’t square with statements by the White House in the days after the Benghazi attack. David Axelrod, one of Obama’s closest advisors, told an interviewer at the time, “As I said, immediately when word of the attack came, the president was meeting with his top national security folks. He was talking to them well into the night. He was in touch with them during the day…[and] during the next day as well.”
According to Panetta’s testimony today, he told Obama about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi at the 5 pm meeting on September 11. But not only did Panetta not hear from Obama the rest of the night, he didn’t hear from anyone else in the upper tier of Obama's national security team. Not Secretary of State Clinton. Not Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey.
Where was Obama on the evening of September 11th as four Americans were being slaughtered in Libya? Perhaps he was busy preparing remarks for the fundraisers he headlined in Las Vegas the following day.
Hagel Nomination On Cruz Control?
We reported that former Senator Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be Secretary of Defense is in trouble because he refused to provide information to the Senate Armed Services Committee on the foreign sources of money given to groups he worked for since he left the Senate in 2009.
Hagel’s questionable financial dealings mean that the Senate Armed Forces Committee did not hold a vote today on his confirmation, which it had previously been scheduled to do. A new date has not yet been set.
It is reasonable to ask the nominee to the most sensitive cabinet post to answer questions about whether and how foreign governments and entities may have been indirectly paying his salary over the last few years.
There are questions about Hagel’s work with the Atlantic Council, a think tank where he serves as chairman. The Atlantic Council has published at least one report “supported by a grant from the government of Kazakhstan.” The report portrays the Kazakhstan government favorably, which is a problem because it is not exactly a Jeffersonian democracy. In fact, Kazakhstan is rated as “not free” by Freedom House, an international human rights watchdog group.
There are also questions about Hagel’s service for Deutsche Bank, where he was a paid advisor. Deutsche Bank is under investigation for purportedly violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.
What’s most interesting about the delay is that freshman Republican Senator Ted Cruz (TX) spearheaded efforts to postpone the vote. Cruz distributed a letter to his GOP colleagues calling for the Armed Forces Committee to delay the vote until Hagel answers questions about his finances. Every Republican on the Armed Services Committee signed the letter.
“Your refusal to respond to this reasonable request [for more information] suggests either a lack of respect for the Senate’s responsibility to advise and consent or that you are for some reason unwilling to allow this financial disclosure to come to light,” Cruz wrote in the letter.
Freshman Senators are generally advised to keep their heads down, to take their time to get acclimated and to defer to their party’s leadership. But by taking the lead against Hagel, Cruz is proving he is a force to be reckoned with.
In other news, first-term Senator Marco Rubio has been chosen to deliver the Republican rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union address later this month.
Cruz and Rubio are both in their 40s. They’re both from big states. And they’re both fast becoming conservative Republican leaders in the Senate. Oh, and did I mention that they’re both Hispanic, a voting group that the GOP must do better with in future elections.
Gary Bauer is is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families where his articles are also shared.
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