Fox Smears Obama With New Benghazi FalsehoodOctober 3, 2013 1:20 PM EDT ››› ZACHARY PLEAT
Fox & Friends smeared President Obama with the false claim that he sent more security guards to keep veterans away from Washington, D.C.'s World War II memorial than were sent to the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya when it was attacked in September 2012.
When the federal government began a shutdown on October 1 after Republicans repeatedly demanded concessions to weaken or stop the Affordable Care Act in exchange for keeping the government open, national parks and monuments were closed as there were no longer funds to keep them staffed. Veterans participating in the Honor Flight program were eventually allowed to visit the World War II memorial.
On October 3, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy used the confusion over the status of the memorial to continue the network's inexhaustible obsession with Benghazi, saying, "as it turns out, it looks as if more personnel were sent in to the World War II memorial to keep people out than the State Department actually sent to Benghazi by two. They sent five people to Benghazi, the White House sent seven people to make sure that nobody got in to the war memorial."
An ABC News reporter was present at the memorial for several hours and didn't spot seven security guards keeping veterans away, but did observe the barricade being pushed aside without incident allowing the veterans to see the monument. One security guard was even spotted helping an elderly vet walk up a steep decline.
The National Park Service has also stated that it will not keep the veterans from visiting the memorial, calling their visits a First Amendment issue that supersedes the shutdown.
"The Honor Flights are being granted access to the WWII memorial to conduct First Amendment activities in accordance with National Park Service regulations applicable to the National Mall and Memorial Parks," the NPS said in a statement.
Politico reported on October 1, after a different group of veterans visited the memorial, that a National Park Service spokeswoman said "there [was] no risk of anyone getting arrested" at the time.
The ABC News fact check also debunked the claim that only five security personnel were present in Benghazi at the time of the 2012 attacks:
As for the Benghazi comparisons, though it is true that the State Department's independent review board found that security was inadequate during the attack, it is not accurate to say there were only five security guards guarding the entire compound. The Diplomatic Security agents Paul is referring to were on detail to guard Ambassador Stevens alone. The compound was in fact being guarded by several local militiamen, though again the review found the men were not equipped to handle such an assault.
[T]here were at least twice the number of guards and agents than Paul asserts providing security for the Benghazi consulate and annex on the night of the assault.
Additionally, military forces were dispatched to the region after President Obama was alerted to the attack in Benghazi. A timeline of the Benghazi attacks compiled by CBS News shows that hours before the second attack on the Benghazi annex was launched, which resulted in the deaths of two of the four Americans killed that night, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta ordered military assets to deploy to the area:
Over the next two hours, Sec. Panetta holds a series of meetings and issues several orders: Two Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) platoons stationed in Rota, Spain prepare to deploy - one to Benghazi and the other to the Embassy in Tripoli; A special operations team in Europe is ordered to move to Sigonella, Sicily - less than one hour's flight away from Benghazi; An additional special operations team based in the U.S. is ordered to deploy to Sigonella.
Extra guards in Benghazi may not have made a difference. According to Eric Nordstrom, the State Department's regional security officer for Tripoli from September 2011 to July 2012, more guards wouldn't have stopped the September 11, 2012 attack. In his written statement for a congressional hearing into the attacks, Nordstrom wrote:
Let me say a word about the evening of September 11th. The ferocity and intensity of the attack was nothing that we had seen in Libya, or that I had seen in my time in the Diplomatic Security Service. Having an extra foot of wall, or an extra-half dozen guards or agents would not have enabled us to respond to that kind of assault.