U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-South Cobb), the only Democrat who represents Cobb at the federal level, elected not to return calls on the subject.
“Here we are we’re approaching two months after the fact, and the president has been basically totally silent on it, and he needs to come forward and explain what happened,” Chambliss said.
The attack should prompt a re-evaluation of a number of national policies, Chambliss said.
“No. 1, where are we with respect to providing security to our diplomats and our other government employees around the world?” he said.
The U.S. is vulnerable in other countries in that region, and if Americans cannot be protected, they don’t need to be there, Chambliss said.
Georgia’s senior senator has been critical of the Tunisian government for not allowing the U.S. to investigate Ali Ani al Harzi, a suspect in the Benghazi attack, until now.
“There’s a relationship between allies that require that our investigators have full and complete access to this guy if he was there,” he said. “Here we are again, almost two months after the fact, and just by what you see in the press, we know no more today than we knew on Sept. 12.”
The incident has only highlighted a problematic executive order Obama signed the day he was inaugurated pertaining to individuals captured on the battlefield known as enemy combatants, he said.
Enemy combatants are different from Article 3 criminals, who are tried in the federal court system.
“Enemy combatants are allowed to be held until the conflict is over, and we determine in the meantime whether we try them in military tribunals or not,” Chambliss said. “But since the president has signed the edict directing Guantanamo to be closed, we have no where to put these individuals.”
Chambliss said the president’s policy has been to kill enemy combatants with drone attacks rather than capture and interrogate them for information.
“If we capture an enemy combatant now, what would we do with them?” Chambliss asked. “The only one we’ve captured since the signing of that executive order, we’ve put on a battleship out on the middle of the ocean and sailed around with him for 60 days trying to figure out what to do with him.”
Chambliss is vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, a committee chaired by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, which will not conduct an oversight hearing on the attacks until Nov. 15, after the election.
“It should be before. … it’s very clear there’s a lack of leadership on the part of the president here, but that’s the call of the chairman,” Chambliss said, adding he would try to push for an open hearing to let the public know what happened. “We will get the intelligence community involved from a hearing standpoint, we’ll have the top leadership from the DNI to the director of the CIA, perhaps FBI Director Mueller — I’m not sure who’s going to be on the list, but we will have the top individual leaders available to let us know exactly what they know.”
U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) said it’s becoming clear that Obama initially portrayed the attacks as the result of a movie protest rather than a terror attack for political reasons. Politics is the reason he’s remained so quiet as well.
“His narrative was that Al-Qaida was on the run, that he and his administration had been successful in changing the dynamic,” Price said. “This is in bold colors evidence that in fact it is not the case, that leading from behind doesn’t work, that the Middle East is a greater cauldron now than it was when the president came to office, that the inability of this administration to project American desire, support and will in the area has made the area less safe, certainly made our ally Israel less secure, and the president’s foreign policy is unraveling before the eyes of the America people, and this wasn’t something that they wanted folks to see.”
Chambliss said Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, appeared on several Sunday morning shows to say the attacks were simply a spontaneous reaction to a movie, which was not true.
“I don’t know whether that was a cover-up or not,” Chambliss said. “I knew at that time that this was a terrorist attack. I had already issued a press release saying it was a terrorist attack. If I knew more than the president did or other folks in his administration, then something is wrong with the system, so I don’t think that’s correct. They knew it, and they still went out and tried to paint it as something other than a terrorist attack when they knew that’s exactly what it was.”
Why Obama’s administration portrayed the attack as a reaction to a movie is one of the questions Chambliss wants answered.
“Everything this White House has done for the last year and a half has been politically motivated, and I can only assume that there was politics involved in this,” Chambliss said.
Gingrey (R-Marietta) said it’s appalling to see Obama and his administration on the campaign trail displaying photos of him watching when the U.S. took out Osama bin Laden or of the president in the situation room watching the developments of the Hurricane, yet nothing is released on the Benghazi attack.
“They say they were on top of it in real-time,” Gingrey said. “Well, show us a photo then. You know, you like these photo ops on the campaign trail, show us some money. Where is a photo?”
Gingrey said there’s no need for an investigation when all Obama has to do is disclose the evidence.
“We just need for them to share with us the video from the drone or drones, the audio tape from the CIA annex, the conversation between Chris Stevens and the others as to what transpired minute by minute, moment by moment. I mean, they have that information.”
Gingrey said he knows why Obama doesn’t share it.
“Because they know they dropped the ball and they screwed up royally, and it resulted in the death of four Americans including, one United States ambassador,” Gingrey said.
Every Sunday morning, Gingrey records the political shows and watches them later in the day after church. Gingrey said he watched Ambassador Susan Rice go on all of them as spokesman for the administration.
“The administration decides who goes and speaks on their behalf, and I guess Susan Rice maybe drew the short straw, but she, without question, could not have gone on those shows and could not have had her talking points without having that cleared by the administration,” he said. “On every single one of those shows, (she) said ‘this was not a terrorist attack. This was just a response to a demonstration that went awry. Got out of hand over that trailer on some video that denigrated Islam, and it had nothing to do with terrorism, was not a terroristic attack. Very sad, we regret it, you know, but that’s what it was pure and simple.’ She said it on either four or five different shows, and I heard every word of it.”
And that leads Gingrey to a dark conclusion.
“It tells me they were lying, they absolutely were lying. They were I guess biding for time and the president had already made his decision to go out to Las Vegas and do a fundraiser and a campaign event, and this was the spin they wanted to put on it,” Gingrey said. “They didn’t want to have any suggestion during the final three weeks of the campaign that this president was soft on foreign policy, that he had not been anything but an unmitigated success in regard to al-Qaida, getting Osama bin Laden, getting Muammar Gaddafi, having some kind of stable government in place in Libya and Egypt, and the Arab Spring was a complete success, when obviously it was not.
“In fact, it was a dismal failure, and he didn’t want to have that on his resume going forward in these last three weeks, so they made a calculated decision — unbelievable they made that decision — that we’re going to get through this without suggesting that we’ve got problems with a terrorist attack at our consulate in Benghazi.”
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-east Cobb) referenced a letter he and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sept. 25, in which they demanded more details regarding the increasing threats and security concerns that preceded the Sept. 11 attack.
“The response was, ‘well, we’ve commissioned a commission that’s required under the law, and we’ll report back in 60 days, which is Nov. 15,” Isakson said. “We have all the tangential evidence in the world that within 24 hours everybody knew there were indicators that it was a coordinated attack, and it was not due at all to this trailer or this movie, which is what was being said the first week, and we know within seven days we actually had information that the CIA or one of the DIA operations had requested additional security and that (Secretary of Defense) Leon Panetta had distributed in a statement about two weeks ago that they didn’t think the situation rose to the level of committing more security, and that obviously turned out to be a misjudgment,” Isakson said.
“Any time that you have that type of situation and American lives are lost, particularly those of ambassadors — we haven’t lost an ambassador in the line of duty since 1979, it’s a very rare occurrence for something like that to take place — we need to get the answers, and the only place you can get them is from the administration.”
Isakson said the Benghazi attack doesn’t seem to have affected the presidential race.
“Gov. Romney in the debate did what any sane presidential candidate would have done, he didn’t take the bait on trying to make veiled accusations,” Isakson said. “He was diplomatic on his approach on it, which I think is the way he should have been. But there are a lot of people asking a lot of questions, starting with Bob Corker and I beginning over a month ago. To date we still don’t have any answers, and when you don’t have answers to questions that are very logical, it causes concern.”
Chambliss said it was hard to say whether it was having an impact on the presidential race.
“The media coverage from the mainstream media standpoint has really not been there like it should have been,” Chambliss said. “We had a World War that started as a result of an ambassador being killed, so this is a big, big deal, and the media just hasn’t pressed it like they should.”
Gingrey, who said the administration has blood on its hands over the incident, said Obama and the mainstream media are determined to minimize the impact on the election.
“The Dems and their co-conspirators, the liberal media, are hell-bent and determined that it won’t have any effect on the election, and that would be a travesty,” Gingrey said.