Failure in Benghazi

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According to reports from the few media outlets who have investigated this story, the Obama Administration apparently refused requests for security and assistance, both before and during the attack from our people in Benghazi. It is now known that in the weeks and days leading to the attack, the State Department ignored Ambassador Christopher Stevens’ requests for added security. Then, during the attack, someone in the administration's chain of command apparently refused requests for help from the few American defenders.
 
Since September 11, the confusion spread by the President and his subordinates, followed by a clear refusal to answer clear questions, is cause for concern. The timeline leading up to the attack is marked with security lapses, denied requests for additional security, and on-the-ground confirming rumors of an imminent attack. The more we learn about this incident, the more questions we have.
 
Why wasn't there better security in place prior to September 11? Congressional testimony provided by Eric Nordstrom, a Regional Security Officer in Libya outlines a prolonged scenario of weak security in the midst of repeated al Qaeda affiliated attacks on the Benghazi consulate. Even though officials in Benghazi asked for additional security, the State Department instead refused a request to keep in place a military special operations “site security” team in Benghazi.
 
In the moments leading up to and during the attacks, why were requests for help denied? And who denied those requests? These pleas were sent by brave - and now dead – men, at least three times. The answer that came back to them three times was "no."  It saddens me to think that as former SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty – men who rushed to the fray to defend their fellow Americans – faced death, their last thoughts may have been that they were forsaken by their command.
 
Who denied those requests and did the President know about it?  If he did not, that is equally troublesome. When asked twice by a Denver, Colo. television reporter if those requests were denied, Mr. Obama blatantly and awkwardly sidestepped the queries.
 
Why in the days immediately after the attack did the administration try to spread the story that an anti-Islamic video spurred a spontaneous demonstration? No credible evidence supports that claim. Why did they say that a demonstration took place before the attacks? Eyewitness accounts indicate that was not the case.
 
The contrast between the administration’s handling of Benghazi to its strutting after the killing of Osama bin-Laden is stark. In its braggadocios rush to take credit for his killing, the administration leaked sensitive information to a friendly press to make Mr. Obama look like the firm, strong commander-in-chief. But since Benghazi, Mr. Obama's administration has thrown up a veil of confusion now backed up by a wall of silence. There are no glorifying leaks, or Situation Room pictures.  Do the president and Secretary Clinton really think that the truth can ultimately be denied?
 
An equally distressing side story to these events, is the major media’s (with the exception of one major television network and a small number of correspondents) blatant refusal to cover this story. Asking questions about the Benghazi incident is not an attack on Mr. Obama. It is the duty of a free press to demand answers from elected leaders. It should worry all of us if this is the direction of modern American journalism. A politically correct, herd mentality will never expose the truth.
 
The president said “We leave nobody behind.” Regardless of the election outcome, the House of Representatives will continue to dig to get to the answers, because the only way to know whether the president’s comment is indeed fact is to ensure that the truth is not left behind to die in the dust and flames of Benghazi.

Olson is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.