Tags: Benghazi Scandal | leon panetta | benghazi | 13 hours | movie

Panetta: Benghazi Probe 'A Political Football'

 (MSNBC)

By    |   Thursday, 07 Jan 2016 02:32 PM

Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta denied claims being made in a new movie, "13 Hours," that any orders were made to CIA operatives on the ground to stand down and not rescue Ambassador Christopher Stevens and other embassy staff in Benghazi who were murdered in 2012.

"Absolutely not," Panetta, who was secretary during the Benghazi scandal, told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on her "Andrea Mitchell Reports" program. "You know, I'm sure there are going to be movies and books and there will be all kinds of theories that will be presented, but from my experience and from the role that I played as secretary of defense, there was never any order to stand down. On the contrary, the whole effort was to do everything possible to try to save lives."

Panetta, who also served in the Obama administration as CIA director from 2009 to 2011, is set to testify behind closed doors to the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Friday, and told Mitchell that he believes the attacks are continuing to be tragic

"The problem was that attack ended quickly and because of time and distance, we never had a chance to get there," he said. "This is a tragic event, tragic in a number of ways. But most importantly, it's tragic because it's now become a political football that unfortunately, I think doesn't do service to all of those that were committed to trying to protect lives."

There are also several reports that the Pentagon offered a rescue mission to the State Department, but then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rejected the effort, another claim Panetta denied.

"I'm not aware of any such effort at all," he responded. "As a matter of fact, after meeting with the president, I immediately went back and we made decisions to deploy forces to put them in place to be able to go in and provide help to those involved and we in fact put forces in place."

Meanwhile Panetta, who was Bill Clinton's chief of staff, endorsed Hillary Clinton for the White House during his appearance on the noon program.

"The next president of the United States has two principal responsibilities," Panetta said. One is to break the gridlock in this town ... secondly, they have to be a world leader. My view is that Hillary Clinton probably has the best credentials in terms of those two areas that I discussed. But clearly, other candidates on the Republican side have to show that they are willing to address those two issues as well."

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Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta denied claims being made in a new movie, 13 Hours, that any orders were made to CIA operatives on the ground to stand down and not rescue Ambassador Christopher Stevens and other embassy staff in Benghazi who were murdered in 2012.
leon panetta, benghazi, 13 hours, movie
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2016-32-07
Thursday, 07 Jan 2016 02:32 PM
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