John McCain Explodes After CNN Reporter Asks Him Why He Didn’t Attend Benghazi Briefing: ‘Who the Hell Are You?’
Earlier today it was revealed that Senator John McCain, along with several of his fellow Republicans, skipped a classified Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee briefing on the Benghazi consulate attack to hold a press conference about the lack of information on the Benghazi consulate attack.
CNN wanted to know why Sen. McCain decided it was more important to complain about “many unanswered questions” about Benghazi rather than, say, go to a committee briefing where those questions might be answered, so they sent a reporter to ask him.
But, ironically, McCain was in no mood to answer questions.
“I have no comment about my schedule and I’m not going to comment on how I spend my time to the media,” he told CNN’s Ted Barrett. Pressed on why he had no comment, McCain barked back, “Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?”
When CNN noted that McCain had missed a key meeting on a subject the senator has been intensely upset about, McCain said, “I’m upset that you keep badgering me.”
McCain’s spokesman Brian Rogers later told the media McCain missed the Benghazi hearing “due to a scheduling error.”
It’s worth noting that McCain was in a pretty foul mood yesterday as well, lashing out at a reporter who asked him if the national security threat from the Petraeus scandal was comparable to that of the Benghazi attack by calling the query “one of the dumbest questions I’ve ever heard.”
In conservative circles, the closing weeks of the election have involved a full-blown scandal: namely, that the Obama White House has covered up what really happened during the lethal September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. The Obama administration first failed to adequately protect U.S. personnel in Benghazi, this narrative holds; didn’t respond forcefully enough to save the four Americans who were killed; tried to deny that a coordinated attack occurred at all; and has concealed what the president and his top advisers knew about all this and when. “The Benghazi scandal,” is how Fox News host Bret Baier referred to the story Thursday.
And yet Mitt Romney wants nothing to do with it. In the second presidential debate, Romney treated Benghazi as the most important national security of the moment. But Romney sidestepped the issue in the final debate and, as far as I’m aware, hasn’t raised it since. It’s true that the topic blew up in Romney’s face in that second debate. But Romney’s sudden and complete abandonment of the topic has still been something of a mystery.
Now the story has taken a new twist, as Massimo Calabresi explains. It seems as through the most important actor during the attack may not have been the president, but CIA director David Petraeus. That leaves the storyline more confused than ever. Petraeus, the reputed savior of Iraq, is a hero to many of the same conservatives who have been driving the Benghazi story in an effort to burn the president. Now it seems possible that their ire could burn the general more than the president. Although Friday’s reports indicate that the CIA responded fast and aggressively as the attack unfolded, it also appears that the agency could have been more vigilant about security at the site in advance. It also seems possible that Mitt Romney fell silent on this issue because he came to understand that Petraeus is at least as politically exposed as Obama. (Bear in mind that Romney was recently granted classified national security briefings, as is the custom for major-party nominees.)
To be sure, Obama’s role in all this does remain frustratingly opaque. The White House hasn’t said whether the President was presented with any decision options during the attack, like whether to order drone or fighter jet strikes in the area (although it’s far from clear that either would have been practical in a confused situation). It’s still not quite clear why the Administration blamed that infamous anti-Islamic video for the attack as long as it did, even as contradictory reports added up. Hillary Clinton has taken responsibility in a broad sense for inadequate security at the consulate, but we still don’t know just how involved she was in that debate. And finally, if Fox News is right that special forces based in Italy were “told to wait,” rather than deploy to the scene, we still don’t know who gave that order. (Note that former Pentagon big Paul Wolfowitz, who is no Obama defender, claims that a military team in Europe was in fact mobilized immediately but could not have reached Benghazi in time to save lives.)
These are all frustrating questions. And while an official investigation is still ongoing, the White House could be offering more detail without spilling secrets. “The Obama administration needs to level with the country about why it made its decisions,” the Washington Post‘s fair-minded national security columnist–and frequent Obama defender–David Ignatius wrote this week. But it’s far from clear that the full backstory here amounts to the damning indictment of Barack Obama that some Republicans are intimating. Which may be why Mitt Romney doesn’t bother to mention it anymore.
In an interview with a Denver TV reporter Friday, President Obama twice refused to answer questions as to whether the Americans under siege in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, were denied requests for help, saying he’s waiting for the results of investigations before making any conclusions about what went wrong.
After being asked about possible denials of requests for aid, and whether it’s fair to tell Americans that what happened is under investigation and won’t be released until after the election, the president said, “the election has nothing to do with four brave Americans getting killed and us wanting to find out exactly what happened. These are folks who served under me who I had sent to some very dangerous places. Nobody wants to find out more what happened than I do.”
President Obama told KUSA-TV’s Kyle Clarke large that “we want to make sure we get it right, particularly because I have made a commitment to the families impacted as well as to the American people, we’re going to bring those folks to justice. So, we’re going to gather all the facts, find out exactly what happened, and make sure that it doesn’t happen again but we’re also going to make sure that we bring to justice those who carried out these attacks.”
Clark pressed again.
“Were they denied requests for help during the attack?” he asked.
“Well, we are finding out exactly what happened,” the president again said. “I can tell you, as I’ve said over the last couple of months since this happened, the minute I found out what was happening, I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. Number two, we’re going to investigate exactly what happened so that it doesn’t happen again. Number three, find out who did this so we can bring them to justice. And I guarantee you that everyone in the state department, our military, the CIA, you name it, had number one priority making sure that people were safe. These were our folks and we’re going to find out exactly what happened, but what we’re also going to do it make sure that we are identifying those who carried out these terrible attacks.”
In response, CIA spokesperson Jennifer Youngblood said, “We can say with confidence that the Agency reacted quickly to aid our colleagues during that terrible evening in Benghazi. Moreover, no one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate. In fact, it is important to remember how many lives were saved by courageous Americans who put their own safety at risk that night-and that some of those selfless Americans gave their lives in the effort to rescue their comrades.”
As polling day draws near the odds of one more gaff being the deciding factor narrow.
When it comes to buffoonery, the Republicans show a talent that leaves their rivals floundering in their wake.
Mourdock said. “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something God intended to happen.”
Mourdock is now considering his options but is of the opinion that the reaction to his statement is a liberal plot to discredit him
Missouri senate candidate Todd Akin said in August that women’s bodies have ways of preventing pregnancy in cases of what he called “legitimate rape”.
The medical profession have hailed this as an important new discovery
Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin released a statement accusing President Obama of engaging in “shuck and jive shtick” regarding last month’s attack in Benghazi, Libya.
For those who aren’t familiar with the phrase, “shuck and jive” is a racially-tinged expression.
Gaff Mouth does it again
Hello my name is Mitt Romney and I hate 47% of the people of the USA