(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama called Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at about 10 p.m. on the night of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told CNSNews.com.
That was more than six hours after the attacks started, more than an hour before Tryone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed–and about the time that Clinton first released a statement linking the attacks to “inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” a reference to an anti-Muslim video on YouTube.
“Like every president before him, he has a national security adviser and deputy national security adviser,” Carney told CNSNews.com on Tuesday. “He was in regular communication with his national security team directly, through them, and spoke with the secretary of state at approximately 10 p.m. He called her to get an update on the situation.”
Carney was responding to questions from CNSNews.com about who Obama communicated with on the evening of Sept. 11, 2012. Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told the Senate Armed Services Committee they first notified the president of the attack during a Sept. 11, 2012 meeting that began at 5 p.m. and ran for about 30 minutes. They also told the committee they did not talk to Obama or anyone else at the White House after that meeting.
U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, State Department Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, who worked for CIA, were killed in the Benghazi attacks.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey. (AP)
That night, while the attacks were still unfolding, and before Woods and Doherty were killed, Secretary of State Clinton released a statement–entitled “Statement on the Attack in Bengazi”– linking the attacks to an anti-Muslim video that had been posted on YouTube. “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” Clinton said. “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”
Over the course of a week–from Jan. 8 to Jan. 15–CNSNews.com tried to get the State Department to simply say when exactly on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, the department issued this statement. The State Department would not respond. CNSNews.com called again Tuesday to inquire what time the statement was released. The State Department again did not respond.
However, the Associated Press confirmed to CNSNews.com that at 10:58 p.m. Eastern time that night, it ran a story quoting from Clinton’s statement linking the Benghazi attacks to “inflammatory material posted on the Internet.” Also, FactCheck.or, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, has reported that the State Department released Clinton’s statement “about 10:00 p.m.”–which is when Carney tells CNSNews.com Obama phoned Clinton.
FactCheck.org also pointed out that MSNBC posted a Reuters story at 10:32 p.m. that night, which quoted Clinton’s statement linking the Benghazi attacks to “inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”
The Benghazi attacks later were determined to have nothing to do with a protest over the YouTube video–although administration officials, including the president, continued to make that inference for days after the attacks.
During her Jan. 23 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Clinton stated she spoke with Obama the night of the attack, but did not say what time.