The response to an attack on Americans overseas has local Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, asking President Barack Obama to clarify his comments in a recent interview.
Terrorist attacks left four Americans dead amid reports that U.S. security officials’ calls for help during recent attacks on U.S. personnel in Benghazi were denied. McKeon asserts that Obama’s claims about the president’s reaction were “implausible,” given the United States’ response.
Lee Rogers, who is challenging McKeon for the 25th Congressional District in Tuesday’s election, said he agreed with the calls for a further look into the situation, but he questioned the timing of the letter so close to an election.
McKeon sent a letter to the White House this week, calling for a response to President Barack Obama’s statements last Friday, on the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attacks.
“‘I gave three very clear directives,’” Obama is quoted as saying in the interview. “‘No. 1, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to…’”
McKeon’s main contention was that if there were orders given and not followed, then there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, according to Claude Chafin, spokesman for the House Armed Services Committee.
Chafin also said committee members are not operating under that assumption that Obama’s orders were not followed, which is why the committee is publicly pressing the president for answers.
The Benghazi situation deserves a closer look, Rogers said, but the timing smacks of partisanship.
“Calling for an investigation is a good thing, but I think he’s acting in haste because the election is happening next week, and he wants to raise some doubts,” Rogers said.
“It is partisan,” Rogers said. “It’s only Republicans coming out and asking for this. terrorists are to blame for the deaths, and McKeon should spend his time figuring out how to hunt down those who are really responsible.”
McKeon, who also serves as the chair of the House Armed Services committee, met with officials shortly after the Benghazi attacks to find out what happened, Chafin said.
After the meeting, McKeon sent the president a classified letter Sept. 25 asking for further details regarding the incident, which was not returned, Chafin said. Officials from the secretary of defense’s office let McKeon staffers know that military generals would not be responding to the congressman’s questions within a 24-hour time frame.
It was after repeated refusals for information that McKeon decided to press the president about his recent interview, Chafin said.
CSUN political science professor Martin Saiz said anything sent out so close to an election is likely to be construed as a political move rather than a policy one.
However, while the timing may be scrutinized, the degree and nature of a response is not always immediately obvious when the attacks are against a terrorist group, as opposed to a nation-state, he added.
“From what I do know, the response should be clear and proportional and immediate,” Saiz said. “But that’s not always possible, and that not always easy to do.”