Top GOP Senators Seek Obama's Whereabouts During Benghazi Attacks

Friday, 02 May 2014 10:52 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Three top Republican senators asked President Barack Obama on Friday to disclose where he was during the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans.

The letter was from Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. It comes a day after former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told Fox News that Obama was not in the Situation Room in the White House's basement following events as they occurred on Sept. 11, 2012.

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"Over a year and a half has passed since the terrorist attacks, and the American people still do not have an accounting of your activities during the attack," the legislators, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in the letter. "Mr. President, can you now confirm that Mr. Vietor's account of your absence in the White House Situation Room is accurate?"

Vietor told Fox on Thursday that Obama was in the Oval Office in the White House when he first learned of the attacks.

"It is well known that when the attack was first briefed to him, it was in the Oval Office, and he was updated constantly," Vietor told Fox.

He added that did not know where the president was at all points in the night because he does not have a "tracking device on him."

Vietor said that Obama did not have to be in the Situation Room to continuously monitor a a developing situation.

The issue of Obama's whereabouts that night came up in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in February 2013.

Leon Panetta, who was Defense Secretary at the time, told senators then that the president was absent, but that they had met in a pre-scheduled meeting at 5 p.m. The session lasted 30 minutes.

He testified that he and Obama spent about 20 minutes discussing the situation that was just unfolding in Benghazi.

But, otherwise, Obama left operational details, including knowledge of what resources were available to help the Americans under attack, “up to us” — meaning Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Obama did not call back to check further developments, Panetta testified, "but we got information that the ambassador, his life had been lost, it went to the White House.”

Panetta said that he did not communicate with anyone at the White House after the earlier meeting.

The letter from McCain, Graham and Ayotte was among several fast-moving developments on the Benghazi attacks on Friday.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry to testify about emails released by Judicial Watch this week showing that Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes advised former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to link the attacks to an anti-Muslim video.

In addition, House Speaker John Boehner said the chamber would vote next week on creating a select committee to investigate Benghazi.

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