On Monday, Fox News' James Rosen reported that newly declassified documents revealed that President Obama was briefed on the Benghazi terrorist attack minutes after the assault began. The new evidence, Rosen said, raises questions about why the Obama administration was allowed to present a false narrative about a video for two weeks.
Gen. Carter Ham, then head of AFRICOM, the Defense Department combatant command with jurisdiction over Libya, told a House panel last year in classified testimony that he broke the news of the attack to then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
According to testimony, he learned of the attack just 15 minutes after it began.
"My first call was to General Dempsey, General Dempsey's office, to say, 'Hey, I am headed down the hall. I need to see him right away,'" he told lawmakers last June. "I told him what I knew. We immediately walked upstairs to meet with Secretary Panetta."
Some 450 pages of testimony were given that day, Rosen said.
Dempsey and Panetta, Ham said, "had the basic information as they headed across for the meeting at the White House."
Armed Services Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., sitting in on the subcommittee's hearing with Ham last June, reserved for himself an especially sensitive line of questioning: namely, whether senior Obama administration officials, in the very earliest stages of their knowledge of Benghazi, had any reason to believe that the assault grew spontaneously out of a demonstration over an anti-Islam video produced in America.
"In your discussions with General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta," the California congressman asked, "was there any mention of a demonstration or was all discussion about an attack?"
Ham said there was some "peripheral" discussion about the subject but "at that initial meeting, we knew that a U.S. facility had been attacked and was under attack, and we knew at that point that we had two individuals, Ambassador Stevens and Mr. [Sean] Smith, unaccounted for."
Rosen posted a portion of the conversation between Ham and Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, a first-term congressman who pressed the issue further:
WENSTRUP: "As a military person, I am concerned that someone in the military would be advising that this was a demonstration. I would hope that our military leadership would be advising that this was a terrorist attack."
HAM: "Again, sir, I think, you know, there was some preliminary discussion about, you know, maybe there was a demonstration. But I think at the command, I personally and I think the command very quickly got to the point that this was not a demonstration, this was a terrorist attack."
WENSTRUP: "And you would have advised as such if asked. Would that be correct?"
HAM: "Well, and with General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta, that is the nature of the conversation we had, yes, sir."
Panetta told the Senate last February it was him who informed Obama about the attack.
"There was no question in my mind that this was a terrorist attack," Panetta told Sen Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.
Others also testified they referred to Benghazi as a terror attack, yet the administration blamed it on a video for two weeks.
"Leon Panetta should have spoken up," said Kim R. Holmes, a former assistant secretary of state under President George W. Bush. "The people at the Pentagon and frankly, the people at the CIA stood back while all of this was unfolding and allowed this narrative to go on longer than they should have."
For many, news of the report shows that Obama lied to the American people yet again, Twitchy said.
"So according to newly released documents, Obama blatantly lied about the cause of #Benghazi," one person tweeted. "We've been saying that since it happened."
"You lied to the families who lost sons in #Benghazi. Never a video. You & Hillary looked parents in the eyes & flat out lied," another person tweeted.
Rosen said that neither Panetta's office nor the White House responded to Fox News' requests for comment.
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