Fox News questioned recent remarks by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta defending the Obama administration's response to the terrorist attack in Libya, claiming that the administration had ample time to act to prevent the deaths of four Americans. But Fox omitted remarks from Panetta that directly contradicted the network's narrative that the attack unfolded over several hours.
During a weekend interview on CNN, Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defended the military response to the September 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi, stating that there were two 20-minute attacks at the U.S. Consulate, separated by six hours:
DEMPSEY: You know, it wasn't a seven-hour battle. It was two 20-minute battles separated by about six hours. The idea that this was one continuous event is just incorrect. And the nearest -- for example, the nearest aircraft -- armed aircraft, happened to be in Djibouti, the distance from Djibouti to Benghazi is the distance from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles. There is some significant physics involved. And the time available, given the intelligence available, I have great confidence in reporting to the American people that we were appropriately responsive given what we knew at the time.
PANETTA: This is not 911. You cannot just simply call and expect within two minutes to have a team in place. It takes time. That's the nature of it. Our people are there. They are in position to move, but we've got to have good intelligence that gives us a heads up that something is going to happen.
On Monday, host Martha MacCallum cast doubt on Panetta's remarks, specifically his statement referring to the 911 call, claiming it will be a “tough statement for him to defend” given that the attack was “a 7- or 8-hour exchange.” Panetta and Dempsey are scheduled to testify this week before a congressional inquiry into the Libya attack.
But MacCallum aired only a short portion of Panetta's remarks, omitting Dempsey's statement that the attack happened in two separate, short incidents.
During the segment, contributor Stephen Hayes further claimed that “other people familiar with the assets that we had in the region suggest that at the very least that we could have had some kind of a flyover to try to disperse this angry crowd.”
Fox has attempted to cover up, attack, or misrepresent much of the official testimony regarding Benghazi, including that of retired Gen. David Petraeus and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Furthermore, retired Gen. Jack Keane debunked the Fox News claim that the administration did not do enough to prevent the American deaths. Fox has also pushed myths about Benghazi for months, including misleading on the consulate's level of security and claiming that President Obama “sympathized” with the attackers.