The House Select Committee on Benghazi asked President Obama to answer questions about what those in the White House did in response to the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya by Islamic extremists.
The president refused, stating through his attorney that “If the president were to answer your questions, his response would suggest that Congress has the unilateral power to demand answers from the president.”
Nevertheless, merely reading the questions that were asked is instructive, especially given that the president is “the only person who can answer some of these questions,” committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy observed in his report.
“The Executive Branch would, perhaps, argue sending questions to the President is ‘unprecedented’ and would create a ‘constitutional crisis,’” the South Carolina Republican wrote. “The Legislative Branch would argue several prior Committee Chairmen sent an extensive set of questions to the President regarding Benghazi, the President has answered media inquiries about Benghazi without a ‘constitutional crisis,’ and the President is uniquely situated to answer these questions.”
In his June 7 letter to Obama’s counsel, Gowdy disclosed what questions he wanted answered.
1.The White House issued a readout of your meeting with senior
administration officials on September 10, 2012, indicating
“specific measures” had been taken to “prevent 9/11 related
attacks.” What were these specific measures, and how did these
specific measures differ from specific measures taken on prior
anniversaries of September 11?
2. When did you first learn a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, had
been attacked? What were you told, and by whom? Were you
informed Sean Smith had been killed during the initial attack?
3. What orders or direction, if any, did you give to Secretary of
Defense Leon Panetta upon learning of the initial attack? Did
you or anyone at your direction ever modify, withdraw, alter, or
amplify the initial orders or direction you gave to Secretary
4. What were you told about Department of Defense assets in the
region that could respond specifically to Benghazi? Did you ask
for or receive a list of military or paramilitary assets in the region
that could respond to Benghazi during the pendency of the
5. Were you subsequently kept informed about the initial attack,
subsequent attacks, and/or efforts to either send military
assistance or evacuate U.S. personnel? By whom?
6. When did you learn Ambassador Christopher Stevens was
missing, and who informed you? Were you kept informed on
efforts to locate Ambassador Stevens, and if so, by whom? When
did you learn Ambassador Stevens was dead, and who informed
8. Were you aware that prior to any military asset moving to
respond to the attacks the State Department expressed concerns
to the White House about the number of military assets going
9. When did you learn of a mortar attack that killed Tyrone Woods
and Glen Doherty? Who informed you?
10. Were you aware of any efforts by White House and Department
of Defense officials during the evening of September 11, 2012,
and into the early morning hours of September 12, 2012, to reach
out to YouTube and Terry Jones regarding an anti-Muslim
video? What specifically connected the attacks in Benghazi to
this anti-Muslim [sic] video, and why weren’t these efforts made
after the protests in Cairo, Egypt?
11. When did you learn individuals associated with terrorist
organizations participated in the attack on the U.S. facilities in
12. Did you receive the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) on September
12, 2012 and September 13, 2012? If so, who provided you with
13. Have you ever viewed surveillance footage from the cameras (or
other sources) located at the U.S. facilities in Benghazi depicting
the attacks? Will you declassify this footage so the American
people can see for themselves what transpired?
14. Did you authorize a covert action or covert operation to provide
lethal assistance to Libyan rebels?
Those are the questions that were asked of the president — 13 open to the public, and two that were classified.
But we’ll never learn the answers because “the most transparent administration in recent history” doesn’t want us to know.
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