President Empty Chair

As applied in practice:

Ed Morrissey is incredulous as is Ace over the statements of the head of the Joint Chiefs of staff (as well he should be) but for all of that incompetence of man with the stars and all the snark of the Leon “Global 911″ Panetta there is only one story here:

The story is that on 9/11 during an attack on Americans in Benghazi (including a person he knew personally) the President of the United States was disinterested.

Hey, he had to plan his Vegas fundraiser, and try to talk Bibi into going along with his plan to dismantle Israel.

Of course, the other implication of all this is that the White House was lying all fall when they said they ordered people to do everything possible to help.

[Update a while later]

The president gave no direction in his one call to Panetta.

28 thoughts on “President Empty Chair

  1. Chris Gerrib

    So the Secretary of Defense is chopped liver? Isn’t it the job of the Department of Defense to run military operations? Why exactly does the President have to hover over his secretaries to make sure his orders are followed? If Panetta is told “do all you can” what further instruction does he need? If he needs further permissions, presumably the President has a cell phone and can be reached for those permissions.

      1. Al

        With competent subordinates, sure.

        “Yeah, I let Belisarius make decisions like that” would fly just fine.

        But now we’re doing an after action report.

        Who is the -other- incompetent?

    1. Gregg

      “Why exactly does the President have to hover over his secretaries to make sure his orders are followed? ”

      Have you EVER been a manager? Step 1 of managment of an organization is to give clear orders.

      But step #2 is to ALWAYS follow up to see that they were carried out.

      Always.

      Subordinates ignoring direction is as common as snowflakes in a blizzard.

      On top of that, when it’s something as important as life and death, you don’t go back to planning a fund raiser or go to bed. You SEE to it that YOUR EMPLOYEES are saved.

      This is so basic, so obvious, so much common sense…….

      no wonder you never thought of it.

  2. Larry J

    When lives were on the line and hard decisions made, Obama voted “present.”

    Chris, deploying troops to another country, even if only for a rescue mission, is very likely a decision presidents hold for themselves. Even the SecDef or Chairman JCS is unlikely to be given that authority.

      1. Al

        Because they appear to have been ordered not to?

        At least, they did not. And then they received no further input.

        Last go-around you were accusing “us” of being hypocritical on assigning the blame to whomever is most convenient.

        Is this “Underlings too stupid to request permission to ‘invade’ airspace for a rescue?” Or “Boss too stupid to know ‘and don’t call me, I’ll be sleeping’ is a fracking moronic order?”

      2. George Turner

        If that’s all the President has to do to launch a complex airborne rescue mission in a foreign country to save embassy employees, then Jimmy Carter’s rescue mission wouldn’t have involved Jimmy Carter.

    1. Paul Milenkovic

      We are told that we are Faux News Drones for reading too much into the testimony.

      C’mon, is Secretary Panetta or are the generals, who are subject to civilian command authority, going to come flat out and say, “We would have acted, but our boss (the President) blew us off.” The testimony is being dragged out of them, and they are saying as much as they can say without being insubordinate. But there are also apologists willing to say, “You are reading too much into this.” Always.

      The other thing is, I think Senator Ayotte and especially Senator McCain are reading too much into “all of the warnings from the Ambassador and others about security.” It is so easy to Monday Morning quaterback this thing when there are so many threats across the world and so much intelligence to filter. With respect to lives being lost, our men and women in the Armed Forces and in the Diplomatic Service know the risks, and the lives of these people are being lost all the time.

      The real question is whether these people were left to their own resources, in real-time when the attacks were happening. And yes, commanders up to the Commander in Chief have to make the hard choices of sacrificing people — hold that hill at all costs, cover the retreat of the main force.

      Secretary Panetta had hinted, had kinda, sorta taken responsibility, that a rescue was not attempted at his order as such a rescue, in his judgement, would have run too high a risk of turning into a Charlie Foxtrot, that is, lead to even higher casualties of the rescuing force. But not much has been said about options that could have been considered, and the President and the Secretary of State of shielded those secrets with a bodyguard of self-righteous indignation that they be questioned on this.

      Winston Churchill had famously said that every secret needs to be protected by a bodyguard of lies. I am really reluctant to publically call anyone a liar, but the President and the Secretary of State appear to be offering protection to something or someone. The question I have is whether they are serving an honorable cause in the greater national interest or for some less noble reasons?

  3. Chris Gerrib

    Per Rand’s second link, Panetta and Dempsey were told to do “everything we needed to do to try to protect American lives there” by the President.

    Again, what more authority and guidance did they need? “Do everything you need” seems pretty fraking clear, direct and decisive to me.

    1. Al

      So….
      Incompetent underlings this time.

      Have you ever actually given that order outside of a training exercise? Or something completely trivial?

      They’ve already claimed previously that they needed specific orders for a laundry list of items. “Do everything you need to” is not “Yes, you have explicit permission to commit an act of war on Libya by violating their airspace without permission.”

      It’s an ACTIVE/STUPID order that reserves all allocation of reward/blame until the results are known. Hey, results known, let’s hide the blame.

      “clear, direct and decisive to me.” Yes. Sad really.

      1. Bilwick

        Remember, Al, that with Gerrib, it’s never Obama’s fault. That’s what you expect from cultists, and why we call ‘em “Obama Zombies.” As I’ve predicted before, as the economy goes deeper into the cesspool, and as the Red Diaper Baby in the White House calls up his old pals in the New Party to gloat, “We did it–we finnaly did it!” Gerrib will be here–when he, too, isn’t busy scrounging up sustenance–doing his “Chip Diller” act and telling us, “There is no need to panic! Obama knows what he’s doing! Stay calm and keep your place in the bread lines!”

      2. George Turner

        Per Hillary’s statements, she asked the Libyan President to enter his airspace. He didn’t go along with that, and likely only Obama could give the order to go ahead without the Libyan’s permission, since Hillary had already been forced to involve the Libyan president in the decision chain.

    2. Gregg

      “Per Rand’s second link, Panetta and Dempsey were told to do “everything we needed to do to try to protect American lives there” by the President.”

      You need a direct order from the President to invade another nation. Most likely in writing. That sentence does not confer the legal right to do so.

      Surely all your years as a Naval Officer taught you this….

      1. Chris Gerrib

        Did they ASK for a cross-border directive?

        Perhaps they didn’t ask for a cross-border directive because they didn’t have anybody to send across the border.

        Panetta is 75 years old and retiring. Dempsey is at his terminal rank and Obama isn’t running for re-election. If there was some great conspiracy to kill Americans, why exactly would these two people be willing to fall on their swords?

        Where are the dozens of Admirals, Generals and unit commanders “straining at the leash” to rush into Benghazi? Where are the hundreds of soldiers and sailors who were supposedly grounded by Obama’s orders?

        The reason you haven’t heard from them is they don’t exist, and the reason there was no cross-border directive (which you never need in self-defense and rescue situations) is because there was nobody to send. Maybe there should have been, but your fixation how many times the word “terrorist” was said or what Obama had for dinner blinds you to the real questions.

        1. George Turner

          I’ve read reports of such generals “straining at the leash.” The commander of Africom had a rescue force ready to launch, and reportedly ordered it to launch about 30 seconds before he was relieved of command. The general who was said to have relieved him was announced as his replacement about a week later.

        2. Gregg

          “Where are the dozens of Admirals, Generals and unit commanders “straining at the leash” to rush into Benghazi? Where are the hundreds of soldiers and sailors who were supposedly grounded by Obama’s orders?

          The reason you haven’t heard from them is they don’t exist,..”

          Surely your decades as Naval Grand Admiral taught you that as long as you are on active duty you aren’t allowed to say stuff like that, even if it’s what you think.

          There were boots in Livorno – 3 hours away.

          There were fighter jets on a carrier 1 hour’s flight away; jets in Italy 2 hours away. They sat there useless because of no orders from The One.

          Your love affair with the President blinds you to the real facts.

          1. Al

            And “the situation” reportedly lasted 9 hours. More if you trust the reporting that Ambassador Stevens was still breathing shallowly when discovered before being “carried to the hospital”.

        3. ken anthony

          Chris, your argument consist of ‘making shit up.’ If you know any warriors, you know they have honor and will do what they’re trained to do. When it doesn’t happen, it’s because of some politician.

          Obama is responsible. Except he’s not.

          Obama has no honor and your suppositions dishonor our heroes.

          One of the men who died had a laser targeting the mortar that killed him. The gunship was orbiting or he would not have done that. His request for support was denied. Those people that denied that request are murderers.

          You Chris are defending the indefensible.

    3. Gregg

      “Did he ask you how long it would take to deploy assets, including armed aviation, to the area?” asked Sen. Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire Republican.

      “No,” answered Mr. Panetta.

      He, of course, being Obama.

      “These were actually two short-duration attacks that occurred some six hours apart,” Mr. Panetta said. “We were not dealing with a prolonged assault that could have been brought to an end by a U.S. military response.”

      The assertion drew a harsh criticism from Mr. Graham, who asked: “Did you know how long the attack was going to last, Secretary Panetta?”

      “No idea,” the defense secretary responded.

      “Was any airplane launched anywhere in the world to help these people?” pressed Mr. Graham as the tension filled the hearing room.

      Mr. Panetta said C-130 aircraft were ultimately flown in to evacuate American survivors, but Mr. Dempsey responded that if Mr. Graham was “talking about a strike aircraft,” the answer was no.

  4. Leland

    Panetta and Dempsey were told to do “everything we needed to do to try to protect American lives there” by the President.

    Why hasn’t the President requested their resignations for sitting on their hands waiting for the President to call back while the Ambassador died?

    If any of Gerrib’s comments were the issue; the President would demand to know why he wasn’t kept in the loop. Instead, he wasn’t kept in the loop, and the people, Gerrib claims, were given all the authority and guidance they needed; apparently waited for the President to call before acting. If Gerrib is correct, Panetta and Dempsey are incompetent to follow simple orders and should be dismissed in disgrace. Of course, Gerrib being correct on anything is a longshot.

    From the comments at Althouse:

    Dempsey 10-25-2012:

    “I can tell you, however, sitting here today, that I feel confident that our forces were alert and responsive to what was a very fluid situation.”

    Panetta 10-25-2012:

    “We — we quickly responded, as General Dempsey said, in terms of deploying forces to the region. We had FAST platoons in the region. We had ships that we had deployed off of Libya. And we were prepared to respond to any contingency and certainly had forces in place to do that.”

    Today Dempsey said that no one with proper authority told him to take action.

    Today Panetta said that despite his previous claims, he did not have military assets capable of effective action.

    The American people were told a narrative about Benghazi that has not held up in any manner what so ever.

  5. wodun

    Why would Obama care about an attack on our ambassador in a country Obama had armed and trained islamist militias to overthrow the government and then operated in said country freely and openly and then exported their jihad to neighboring countries like Mali? Why should Obama care about any of that?

    Everything from this administration about benghazi is a contradiction. Their story has changed more times than a batman reboot.

  6. wodun

    The survivors still haven’t been interviewed and the only person Obama sent to jail is the video maker.

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