The Benghazi / Niger Comparison

by ptgkc –

In 2012, 4 Americans are killed in Africa. The President condemns the “act of terror” within 24 hours. The Secretary of State briefed Congress within 10 days. Critics hound the administration about the initial classification of the attack as possibly (or partially) spontaneous, as opposed to a pre-planned terrorist attack. Charges of cover-up continue for years, but the debate was largely over conspiracy theories about a lack of urgency in response or a cover-up about the groups involved. In reality, there was hair splitting in use of terms as the investigation to motive unfolded.

However, that was enough to initiate Congressional investigations, hearings, testimony and reports.

This month, 4 Americans are killed in Africa. The President doesn’t mention (or tweet) about the attack for 12 days. His first response is silent on the attack. 21 days later, he continues to ignore itThere has still been no condemnation of the terrorist attackers. No promise of justice for the armed service members killed.

As a refresher, a few milestones from a comprehensive 2012 Benghazi timeline at

  • 9/11/12 – Attack in Benghazi kills 4 Americans
  • 9/12/12 – President Obama refers to the incident as an “act of terror”. Clinton issues a statement confirming that four U.S. officials, not one, had been killed. She calls it a “violent attack.”  Clinton: All the Americans we lost in yesterday’s attacks made the ultimate sacrifice. We condemn this vicious and violent attack that took their lives, which they had committed to helping the Libyan people reach for a better future.
  • 9/13/12 – At a campaign event in Colorado, Obama again uses the phrase “act of terror.” He says: “I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished.”
  • 9/14/12 – FBI investigation continues and no new clarifications are offered by the administration.
  • 9/20/12 – White House language now includes “terrorist act”, but does not conclude who specifically was responsible or how much was pre-planned as evidence is still being gathered.
  • 9/21/12 – Clinton, speaking to reporters before a meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, calls it a “terrorist attack” for the first time. She says, “Yesterday afternoon when I briefed the Congress, I made it clear that keeping our people everywhere in the world safe is our top priority. What happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack, and we will not rest until we have tracked down and brought to justice the terrorists who murdered four Americans.”
  • 9/26/12 – Carney is asked at a press briefing aboard Air Force One en route to Ohio why the president has not called the Benghazi incident a “terrorist attack.” He said, “The president — our position is, as reflected by the NCTC director, that it was a terrorist attack. It is, I think by definition, a terrorist attack when there is a prolonged assault on an embassy with weapons. … So, let’s be clear, it was a terrorist attack and it was an inexcusable attack.”

Leaks from the CIA push the theory of an organized terrorist attack. Congress quickly seizes the narrative to portray the administration as covering up a terrorist act and overall as weak on terrorism and related groups. This all based on the initial comments within weeks of the attack.

It was serious enough to become a defining moment in the second presidential debate. Mitt Romney charged (falsely) that “it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.”

Obama: “The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened — that this was an act of terror — and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.”

Romney: “I think interesting the president just said something, which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.”

Obama: “That’s what I said.”

Romney: “You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying?”

Obama: “Please proceed, governor.”

Romney: “I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.”

Obama: “Get the transcript.”

Again, the debate centered on whether the attack was spontaneous or planned. Was it an armed mob that committed the murders in a night of chaos or an organized terrorist group that prepared and carried out the attack? The answer shapes the response. Is it an action that demands retaliation against a specific terrorist group or combatants? Was it an event that could have been prevented? An incorrect interpretation projects a weakness on terrorism that potentially emboldens enemies of the U.S.

Fast forward to Niger.

  • 10/4/17 – U.S. soldiers were accompanying Nigerien troops on a mission near Tongo Tongo. They were ambushed by about 50 militants and a firefight ensued. 4 Americans died. No mention or tweet by President Trump about the attack for the next 12 days.
  • 10/16/17 – At a Monday afternoon press conference, a reporter asked, “Why haven’t we heard anything from you so far about the soldiers that were killed in Niger?” Trump responded not to the attack, but about the notification to families and how he was more active than other previous presidents.
  • 10/17/17 – President Donald Trump took credit for the fact that ISIS is in retreat during an interview Tuesday.

US-backed forces fighting ISIS in Raqqa said “major military operations” in the city have ended and that the jihadists have lost control of their self-declared capital.

“I totally changed rules of engagement. I totally changed our military, I totally changed the attitudes of the military and they have done a fantastic job,” Trump said on “The Chris Plante Show.” “ISIS is now giving up, they are giving up, there are raising their hands, they are walking off. Nobody has ever seen that before.”

When Plante asked why that hadn’t happened before, Trump continued…

“Because you didn’t have Trump as your president,” he said. “It was a big difference, there was a big, big difference if you look at the military now.”

Deja vu? No, Niger is much worse.

Again, the President has yet to even recognize a terrorist attack took place. He has not articulated any condemnation of those that murdered American service members. There has been no response pledged against the attackers.

I would normally conclude the Commander-in-Chief is AWOL, but with his history of draft dodging, it’s clear he never wanted to report for duty in the first place. He recently found time to tweet about crime and terror in the UK. Why not Niger? What is this White House doing? Where is the outrage about the complete lack of answers? What is the policy? What will be the response? Who is in charge?

The GOP led House and Senate need to immediately issue subpoenas and schedule hearings with the same persistence waged against Secretary of State Clinton and the Obama administration following the Libya attack.

It’s time to hold President Trump accountable. When the timeline of the two attacks are compared, this is not Trump’s Benghazi. It’s much worse.


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos