CONNOR LAND/Media Matters For America
Fox News contributor Jonah Goldberg perpetuated the right-wing smear that the White House "didn't respond" to the attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, an accusation that ignores multiple military leaders and congressional testimony.
On the July 23 edition of Fox's Happening Now, National Review Online editor and Fox contributor Jonah Goldberg discussed remarks that General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command during the September 11, 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, had made days earlier at the 2013 Aspen Security Forum. When Ham was asked whether he initially believed terrorists were behind the Benghazi attacks, he had replied that he "started to gain [that] understanding within the hours after the initiation of the attack."
Co-host Patti Ann Browne asked Goldberg about Ham's statement, wondering "Why is it that this is being considered political when people try to complain about the spin being put out by the White House that it had to do with this video?" Goldberg replied, in part, by denying that the administration even responded to the attacks:
GOLDBERG: We basically know what the truth is. Is that the White House, or the administration, was ill prepared for an attack. We were attacked. It was a terrorist attack because spontaneous protesters don't bring RPGs and coordinate fire. And so it was a terrorist attack. The White House didn't respond to it. American -- brave Americans died and afterwards, the White House in the midst of a presidential campaign, particularly because Hillary Clinton wants to run in 2016, concocted essentially what they thought was a face-saving cover story about what happened -- partly out of politics, partly out of error. And the problem is most people now know this and what Carter Ham has just said basically confirms this. The problem is that you're never going to get the White House to admit it at this point.
Goldberg's accusation blatantly ignores military leaders' congressional testimony, which detailed the White House's response to the attacks. On February 7, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that upon learning of the unfolding attack in Benghazi, President Obama "at that point directed both myself and General Dempsey to do everything we needed to do to try to protect lives there." Following Obama's directive, Panetta ordered nearby anti-terrorism teams in Spain to deploy to Libya. A six-man security team from Tripoli also deployed to Benghazi. Unfortunately, the units from Spain arrivedafter attacks on the consulate had ceased.
Other forces present in Tripoli during the Benghazi attack were ordered by General Ham to stay in Tripoli to protect the U.S. embassy and care for Benghazi survivors at the airport. Additionally, as Ham made clear in the very remarks Goldberg referenced, he rerouted a drone from eastern Libya to Benghazi once commanders learned of the fighting.
What's more, despite Goldberg's insinuation otherwise, the day after the Benghazi attacks President Obama addressed the nation from the Rose Garden about the "acts of terror" that had taken place in Libya. He remarked, "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is down for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done."