9:01 AM, Feb 12, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
In a premature celebration of Chuck Hagel's nomination being voted out of committee, North Korea tested a nuclear weapon last night. At 1:48 a.m., the White House put out a "Statement by the President" denouncing the test. One understands such statements are staff-written. But presumably President Obama stayed up late or was awakened to review personally a statement put out in his name on a serious foreign policy matter.
Which raises a question to which we still don't have the answer: Did President Obama stay up late on the night of September 11, 2012, to supervise actions taken or not taken by the U.S. government regarding the Americans under attack in Benghazi? Did his chief of staff or national security adviser ever awaken him as news came in and further decision points were reached? Or was the president allowed to sleep through the night, tired from the strain of his hour-long phone call with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and from the prospect of next day's long flight to a fundraiser in Las Vegas? We know President Obama didn't speak with Secretary of Defense Panetta that night. It seems that he only spoke with Secretary of State Clinton the next morning. Was he at least briefed by chief of staff Jack Lew or national security adviser Tom Donilon or his deputy Denis McDonough? Did Lew or Donilon or McDonough at least convene a meeting at the deputies level in the Situation Room, and then report back to the president? Or did the president and his top aides call it a day after their early evening meeting to discuss ensuring the press knew about his phone call with Netanyahu, while Americans in Benghazi were left to fight alone?