Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told senators on Thursday that President Barack Obama was absent the night U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in Libya on last Sept. 11.
Under questioning by Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Panetta said that he had met with Obama at a pre-scheduled meeting at 5 p.m., The Weekly Standard reports
The meeting was a pre-scheduled 30-minute session, Panetta testified. He testified that he and Obama spent about 20 minutes discussing the American embassy that was surrounded in Egypt and 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 in Benghazi, “up to us” — meaning Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, The Standard reports.
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When Ayotte asked whether Obama had called to check on the status of events in Benghazi, Panetta said, “no, but we got information that the ambassador, his life had been lost, it went to the White House.”
The outgoing Defense Secretary said that he did not communicate with anyone at the White House on the night of Sept. 11.
“There was no follow-up from the White House?” Ayotte asked.
“No,” Panetta responded. Obama had never called to check in, he testified.
When Ayotte asked whether the president had checked on what resources were available and how fast could they have been sent to the consulate, Panetta said, “The biggest problem that night was that nobody knew what was going on there.”
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