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'The Absentee Commander in Chief'

5:33 AM, Feb 11, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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The boss and Peter Wehner, writing in the Wall Street Journal

We've both had the honor to work in the White House. We've seen presidents, vice presidents, chiefs of staff and national security advisers during moments of international crisis. We know that in these moments human beings make mistakes. There are failures of communication and errors of judgment. Perfection certainly isn't the standard to which policy makers should be held.

But there are standards. If Americans are under attack, presidential attention must be paid. Due diligence must be demonstrated. A president must take care that his administration does everything it can do. On Sept. 11, 2012, as Americans were under attack in Benghazi, Libya, President Obama failed in his basic responsibility as president and commander in chief. In a crisis, the president went AWOL.

Thanks to the congressional testimony of outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey late last week, we know they met with President Obama on Sept. 11 at 5 p.m. in a pre-scheduled meeting, when they informed the president about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. The meeting lasted about a half-hour. Mr. Panetta said they spent roughly 20 minutes of the session briefing the president on the chaos at the American Embassy in Cairo and the attack in Benghazi, which eventually cost the lives of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, security personnel Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, and information officer Sean Smith.

Secretary Panetta said the president left operational details, including determination of what resources were available to help the Americans under siege, "up to us." We also learned that President Obama did not communicate in any way with Mr. Panetta or Gen. Dempsey the rest of that evening or that night. Indeed, Mr. Panetta and Gen. Dempsey testified they had no further contact at all with anyone in the White House that evening—or, for that matter, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Whole thing here.

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