Where Was Obama on Night of Benghazi Attack? President's Senior Adviser Ducks and Dodges

May 20, 2013 - 5:01 AM
dan pfeiffer

President Barack Obama with White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer. (AP File Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama "was kept up to date" on the terror attack in Benghazi "throughout the entire night, from the moment it started until the very end," the president's senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer told "Fox News Sunday."

But repeatedly pressed for details on where the president was and what the president was doing on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, Pfeiffer dodged the question, saying only that Obama was "kept up to date with the events as they were happening."

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, pressing Pfeiffer to fill in the blanks, noted that Obama was with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey in a previously scheduled meeting on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2012, around the time the Benghazi attack started. And former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she spoke to the president at 10 p.m. on the night of the attack.

"The question here is not what happened that night," Pfeiffer told Wallace. "The question is what are we going to do to move forward ensuring that this doesn't happen again."

Wallace told Pfeiffer, "You didn't answer my question. What did the president do that night?"

"He was kept -- he was in constant touch that night with his national security team and kept up to date with the events as they were happening," Pfeiffer repeated.

Wallace tried again: "When you say his national security team, he didn't talk to the secretary of state, except for the one time when the first attack was over. He didn't talk to the secretary of defense. He didn't talk to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Who was he talking to?"

"He was talking to his national security staff, his National Security Council, the people who keep him up to date about briefings as they happen," Pfeiffer said.

Wallace asked Pfeiffer if Obama was in the White House situation room.

"He was kept up to date throughout the day," Pfeiffer repeated.

"Do you not know whether he was in the Situation Room?" Wallace asked.

"I don't remember what room the president was in on that night. And that's a largely irrelevant fact."

Pfeiffer continued: "The point is -- the question is -- the premise of your question is that somehow there was something that could have been done differently, OK, that would have changed the outcome here. The accountability review board has looked at this. People have looked at it. It's a horrible tragedy, what happened, and we have to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Wallace responded: "Here's the point, though. The ambassador goes missing, ends up the first ambassador in more than 30 years is killed. Four Americans, including the ambassador, are killed. Dozens of Americans are in jeopardy. The president at 4:00 in the afternoon says to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs to deploy forces. No forces are deployed. Where is he while all this is going on?"

"This has been testified to by the --"

"Well, no," Wallace interrupted Pfeiffer. "No one knows where he was, or how he was involved, or who told him there were no forces --

"The suggestion of your question is that somehow the president --" Pfeiffer said.

"I just want to know what the answer is," Wallace interrupted.

"The assertions from Republicans here that somehow the president allowed this to happen or didn't take action is offensive. It is absolutely an offensive premise. And there's no evidence to support it," Pfeiffer said.

"I'm simply asking a question," Wallace said. "Where was he? What did he do? How did he respond? Who told him that you can't deploy forces, and what was his response to that?"

"As I said, the president was in the White House that day, he was kept up to date by his national security team. He spoke to the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs earlier, the secretary of State later. And as events unfolded, he was kept up to date."