Right-wing media figures distorted Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's congressional testimony to attack President Obama over the response to the terror attack on the Benghazi consulate. In fact, Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey explained that the attack occurred in two waves separated by large blocks of time, and White House officials were engaged with military throughout the incident...
...In Fact, Testimony By Gen. Dempsey Made Clear That Obama's Staff Was Fully Engaged Throughout The Attack
Huffington Post: "The President Told Them To Deploy Forces As Quickly As Possible." The Huffington Post reported that Panetta and Dempsey were meeting with President Obama when they learned of the attack and the president responded immediately:
Several committee Republicans pressed Panetta and Dempsey about their discussions with President Barack Obama on that fateful day and his level of involvement, suggesting that after the initial conversation the commander in chief was disengaged as Americans died.
Panetta said he and Dempsey were meeting with Obama when they first learned of the Libya assault. He said the president told them to deploy forces as quickly as possible. [The Huffington Post, 2/7/13]
Gen. Martin Dempsey: Obama's Staff "Was Engaged With The National Military Command Center Pretty Constantly" Throughout The Attack. Dempsey testified during a February 7 congressional hearing that the president's staff was engaged with the military command center constantly during the attack, "which is the way it would normally work" (emphasis added):
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R-NH): But just to be clear, that night he didn't ask you what assets we had available and how quickly they could respond and how quickly we could help those people there -
PANETTA: No. I think the biggest problem that night, Senator, is that nobody knew really what was going on there.
AYOTTE: And there was no follow up during the night, at least from the White House directly?
PANETTA: No. No, there wasn't.
DEMPSEY: I would, if I could just, to correct one thing. I wouldn't say there was no follow-up from the White House. There was no follow-up, to my knowledge, with the president. But his staff was engaged with the national military command center pretty constantly through the period, which is the way it would normally work.
AYOTTE: But no direct communication from him?
DEMPSEY: Not on my part, no. [C-SPAN, 2/7/13, via Media Matters]
MIA Myth Based On Falsehood That The Benghazi Compound Was Under Sustained Attack
Fox's Camerota: "The Attack Was Under Way" For Eight Hours. Fox & Friends Saturday co-host Alisyn Camerota said that while we knew that Obama and Panetta engaged in a half-hour conversation during the attack, "we don't know what else happened for the eight other hours that the attack was under way." [Fox News, Fox & Friends Saturday, 2/9/13, via Media Matters]
CNBC's Kudlow: "Benghazi Went On All Night Long, At Least Seven Hours." CNBC host Larry Kudlow asserted that "Benghazi went on all night long, at least seven hours." [CNBC, The Kudlow Report, 2/7/13, via Media Matters]
Fox's Wallace: "Attack Was Going On Over The Course Of Seven Hours." On Fox News' Special Report, guest host Chris Wallace criticized "how little contact" officials had with Obama "while this attack was going on over the course of seven hours." [Fox News, Special Report, 2/7/13, via Media Matters]
In Fact, Several Hours Passed Between Two Short Attacks
Gen. Dempsey: "It Was Two 20-Minute Battles Separated By About Six Hours." Dempsey defended the military response to the attack in Benghazi, stating that there were two 20-minute attacks at the U.S. diplomatic facility, separated by six hours:
DEMPSEY: You know, it wasn't a seven-hour battle. It was two 20-minute battles separated by about six hours. The idea that this was one continuous event is just incorrect. And the nearest -- for example, the nearest aircraft -- armed aircraft, happened to be in Djibouti, the distance from Djibouti to Benghazi is the distance from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles. There is some significant physics involved. And the time available, given the intelligence available, I have great confidence in reporting to the American people that we were appropriately responsive given what we knew at the time. [CNN, State of the Union, 2/3/13]
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