Visitor Logs: Obama Had “Debate Prep” Meeting on September 11, 2012, the Day of the Benghazi Attack [UPDATED With Major Update]
Where was President Obama during the Benghazi crisis? Some GOP senators want to know:
Republican senators on Friday put pressure on President Obama to confirm his whereabouts during the night of the Benghazi attack, after an ex-White House spokesman revived the debate by telling Fox News he was not in the Situation Room.
The detail about the president’s location the night of the attack is just one of many revelations that have, in a matter of days, kicked up the controversy to a level not seen since last year. After new emails were released raising questions about the White House response to the attack, a key panel on Friday subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry and House Speaker John Boehner announced a special investigative committee.
On Friday afternoon, three GOP senators wrote a letter to Obama asking about his whereabouts and spokesman Tommy Vietor’s comments to Fox News.
“Last night, the former Communications Director for the National Security Council, Tommy Vietor, stated that on the afternoon and night of September 11, 2012 — while the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya was under attack — that you never visited the White House Situation Room to monitor events,” they wrote.
Claiming that Americans still do not have an “accounting of your activities during the attack,” the senators asked him to confirm Vietor’s account. The letter was signed by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.
Here is an interesting tidbit from the White House Visitor Logs for 9/11/12: Obama met with three people, at an unknown time, for “debate prep.” (BUT SEE the “MAJOR UPDATE” below: while it’s clear that Obama’s debate prep people visited, it’s not clear from official records whether they met with Obama.)
(Click image for larger view.)
You may click the link here and see for yourself. Do it quick, before they scrub it. It says “3 meet with Potus [President of the United States] NO TIME LISTED 9-11-12.”
I looked up these three folks, and put the information I found on this page. In short, all three have backgrounds in debate coaching and connections to Joe Biden.
However, the logs clearly appear to indicate a visit with President Obama.
Oddly, the logs do not indicate a time of day for this meeting — but one would assume that debate preparation could be extensive and time-consuming.
I expect Big Media to be remarkably incurious about this tidbit.
I wonder if the Senators will be at all curious.
UPDATE: This is looking more and more significant as the evidence comes in. Here is the President’s official schedule for September 11, 2012. (H/t carlitos and reader M.R.) Obama appears to have been gone from the White House for much of the early part of the day. He observed a moment of silence on the South Lawn; visited the Pentagon Memorial; visited veterans at Walter Reed in Bethesda; returned to the White House; and met with Leon Panetta at 5 p.m. There are not too many holes in his schedule during the day — increasing the chances that the “debate prep” took place in the evening, after the meeting with Panetta . . . in other words, when the Benghazi attack was unfolding.
UPDATE x3: This WSJ piece from 9-18-12 confirms Ron Klain was Obama’s debate advisor: “Mr. Obama’s debate preparation is being coordinated by Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, according to a campaign official.” (Thanks again to M.R.) Reporters? Time to start posing some pointed questions.
UPDATE x4: I should note: I don’t know exactly who wrote this: “3 meet with Potus [President of the United States] NO TIME LISTED 9-11-12.” The language appears on data.gov, a federal database — and it appears clear that the debate preppers visited the White House. But I don’t know with any certainty who added the detail that they met with Obama. I do know that some reporter should ask.
UPDATE x5: The meeting took place at the “VPR” which means “Vice Presidential Residence.” This gives some credence to the theory that this was Biden debate prep and not Obama debate prep — but there is still that pesky detail about the link on data.gov that states “3 meet with Potus [President of the United States] NO TIME LISTED 9-11-12.” Was Obama participating in vice presidential debate prep — or conducting his own debate prep?? Meanwhile, I am investigating whether the “meet with Potus” language could somehow be user-generated — i.e. a notation by a user of the database rather than a custodian of the database. “Developing,” as they say . . .
MAJOR UPDATE: A reader has just confirmed that a user can save a data set and give it any name they wish — meaning that the “3 meet with Potus” language may have been generated by a user and cannot be considered authoritative. The data is accurate: Obama’s debate prep guy Ron Klain and two other debate prep people visited to conduct “debate prep.” But it can’t be ruled out that the “debate prep” was for Biden.
A reader links to this interesting post which shows the President and Biden together, out of the decision-making loop, taking calls from Netanyahu and such, from 6:30 to almost 7:30 p.m.
We still don’t know where Obama was after that. All we know is: he was not in the Situation Room.