Since the rest of the mainstream media seems determined to ignore the Benghazi story until after the election, it is somewhat fitting that Fox News and Chris Wallace devoted the first part of their interview with Obama front man David Axelrod to the story. Watch Axelrod’s expression when Wallace opens with a question about Libya. Priceless.
Related Headlines from Sunday via Drudge:
There’s no practical way to summarize the back-and-forth here. So, here’s an excerpt from the transcript.
WALLACE: And, that was the president, returning from a campaign trip, and not answering a question about Benghazi.
David, simple question: did the president make a calculated decision, to run out the clock until the election and not answer questions about Libya?
WALLACE: So, why hasn’t he answered questions about his personal involvement in Libya?
AXELROD: The president has from the beginning, Chris — and we’ve talked you about this before, of course — the president has said, we want to get to the bottom of it. We want to share it with the American people. We want to get it right.
And there are a couple of distinguished Americans, Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen, the former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who are reviewing the whole matter, to get to the bottom of it. Not just to find out, you know, where things went wrong, but, how to fix it. And, so, that our diplomats and the service people we send overseas are as safe as they can be.
Now, they are serving in dangerous places and you cannot eliminating risk but you want to do as much as you can. And that’s what the president’s goal.
WALLACE: I understand all of the interagency issues and that does take time. But I’m going to ask you a few straightforward questions about the president’s personal involvement that don’t take time, and he could answer today.
Question one — the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was attacked twice before the 9/11 fatal assault. In fact, in August, and repeatedly, security officials there asked for more security, said they felt they were vulnerable. And, the situation was so dangerous that the British diplomats and the Red Cross pulled out of Benghazi. Question — did the president know about that?
AXELROD: Chris, all I can tell you is, the president is fully committed to the safety of his diplomats. He knew the ambassador. He was deeply invested in his work there.
And, obviously, any steps that we needed to take, we would have wanted to take. So, you know, I mean, I’m not in the White House, I’m not privy to all of the discussions, but I can tell you this: this president is 100 percent committed to the people of — he sends overseas personally to represent this country. He’s the one who met the coffins when they came home.
So, any suggestion that he would not take the necessary steps to protect them, make some decision not to take the steps to protect them, is just nonsense.
WALLACE: David, I understand you are not in the White House anymore but on the other hand, you did prepare the president and the vice president for their debates, where Libya came up and one of the debates, the vice president said, we weren’t told about requests for more security.
So I guess I’m asking, again, directly, did they know how dangerous the situation in Benghazi was, beforehand, before the attack? And, that the — security officials in Benghazi were asking for more help?
AXELROD: Obviously, Benghazi was dangerous. There were many other places in the world that are dangerous, where our diplomats serve and where our military serves, where our intelligence people serve.
And — but the question the vice president was asked, was did he know about a specific request for additional security and the answer to that was no. Those requests go — we have 230-plus facilities around the world, those requests go to the security professionals in the State Department. And that’s what happened in this case.
WALLACE: Second area. On the night of the attack, the president met with top national security advisors, and told them to deploy assets to the area. Question — why did he decide not to deploy? Why not actually send those assets in, in the seven hours between the first attack and the second attack, in Benghazi, that night, and, the second attack, seven hours later, two Americans were killed?
AXELROD: Chris, it has been reported and as the White House has said, I think, there was another piece of it in the paper this morning. The president convened the top military officials that evening and told them to do whatever was necessary. And they took the steps they thought — they took every step they could take.
But, listen, this is exactly what this review is about. Because, the real question here is, what went wrong, what could have been done better, if we have to make adjustments in the future, what adjustments should we make? That is a solemn responsibility of the president, and, everyone who serves with him and that’s what’s going to happen.
WALLACE: Finally, the president canceled campaigning for three days — three days — to deal with hurricane Sandy and he was praised for that. Why did he decide to go campaigning in Las Vegas within hours after four Americans were killed in Benghazi, in a terror attack?
AXELROD: Chris, as I said, immediately when word of the attack came, the president was meeting with his top national security folks. He was talking to them well into the night. He was in touch with them, during the day, as — during the next day as well.
So, there is no question about the fact that he was focused on this.
WALLACE: But, why did he feel he could campaign within hours after a terror attack?
AXELROD: Well, everything — everything was put in motion, that he could put in motion. Everything — every conversation that needed to be had was being had between him and his top national security officials.