Former WH Official Dodges: Where Was Obama During Benghazi Crisis?

By Susan Jones | May 2, 2014 | 7:49 AM EDT

Tommy Vietor worked as a spokesman for President Obama's National Security Council when the Benghazi attacks happened. (AP File Photo)

( - Tommy Vietor, a former spokesman for President Obama's National Security Council, says he was in the situation room at the White House on Sept. 11, 2012 when four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in two separate attacks around eight hours apart in Benghazi.

But in an interview with Fox News's Bret Baier Thursday night, Vietor could not or would not say exactly where President Obama was or what he was doing that night. "I don't know," Vietor said. "I don't have a tracking device on him."

"Was the president in the situation room?" Baier asked Vietor.

"No," he replied.

"Where was the president?" Baier asked Vietor twice during the interview.

"In the White House," Vietor said both times.

"He wasn't in the situation room," Baier said.

"As what point in the evening?" Vietor asked.

"Any point in the evening," Baier said.

"You know, it's well known that when the attack was first briefed to him, it was in the Oval Office and he was updated constantly," Vietor said. "And during that briefing he told (National Security Adviser) Tom Donilon and his joint chiefs and (the defense secretary) to move all military into the region."

(As has reported, President Obama was meeting with former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey around 5 p.m., and they told him about the first attack in Benghazi at that time. Dempsey testified that the meeting lasted half an hour, and both men testified that they never spoke with the president again that night. Almost six hours elapsed between the end of the Panetta-Dempsey-Obama meeting at 5:30 p.m. and the deaths of former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty at the CIA Annex in Benghazi.)

Baier asked Vietor where the president was at 10 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2012, when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned Obama:

"I don't know," Vietor said. "I don't have a tracking device on him."

"But you were in the situation room and he wasn't there," Baier said.

"Yes. I was in the White House," Vietor dodged.

"And the president wasn't in the situation room," Baier said.

"Not in the room I was in," Vietor said. "So, let's just be clear. You don't have to be in the situation room to monitor an intelligence situation. The PDB (top-secret presidential daily briefing) is in the Oval Office."

"We've never heard where the president was," Baier tried again.

"Yes," Vietor agreed.

"And no one has said. Hillary Clinton calls the president at 10:00 p.m., and then soon after that we get this statement blaming the video. Do you know, again, where that came from?"

"Same answer as a minute ago," Vietor said. "I do not know what the specific language for the State Department's statement came from."

The interview ended there.

A recently released White House email, obtained by Judicial Watch under a Freedom of Information Act request, shows the White House treated the Benghazi attacks as a political problem to be handled in a way that deflected criticism of Obama's foreign policy -- two months before the November presidential election.

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