Take a look at the first two paragraphs from today's column:
At the time they met with President Barack Obama on 9/11/2012, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, knew it was terrorists who were attacking our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Mr. Panetta testified Feb. 7.Most of it is demonstrably false.
Their pre-scheduled meeting in the Oval Office took place about 90 minutes after the attack began. The president "left it up to them" whether to respond, Mr. Panetta told the Senate Intelligence Committee. The fighting would last for six hours more, but neither he nor Gen. Dempsey heard from the president again that night, Mr. Panetta said.
But there's no reason for you, my audience, to simply take my word for it that I write is true - that's what Jack does with his audience. No, let's go to the facts.
Starting with that second paragraph - specifically this sentence:
The president "left it up to them" whether to respond, Mr. Panetta told the Senate Intelligence Committee.Note the word "whether" after the quotation. And note the quotation for that matter. Now you'd think that in a newspaper (even if it is only an "opinion" column found in that newspaper) when a Secretary of Defense is quoted the writer gets the quotation right - or at least it's close enough not to be misleading.
By phrasing it the way he does, Jack leaves his audience with the impression that the President left the decision to respond up to Panetta and Gen. Dempsey. This is false.
My evidence? Let's roll the tape:
At about 38 seconds in, Panetta testifies:
We had just picked up the information that something was happening, that there was an apparent attack going on in Benghazi. And I informed the president of that fact, and he at that point directed both myself and General Dempsey to do everything we needed to do to try to protect lives there. [Emphasis added.]And then at about 1:09, Panetta reiterated that the President:
...basically said, 'Do whatever you need to do to be able to protect our people there.'Panetta also said this in his prepared remarks:
By our best estimate, the incident at the Temporary Mission Facility in Benghazi began at 3:42 p.m. eastern daylight time on September 11th. The Embassy in Tripoli was notified of the attacks almost immediately and within 17 minutes of the initial reports – at 3:59 p.m. – AFRICOM directed that an unarmed, unmanned, surveillance aircraft that was nearby to reposition overhead the Benghazi facility.And yet despite all this evidence, Jack Kelly tells his readers that the President of the United States left the decision to respond to the Benghazi attacks up to the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - a falsehood.
Soon after the initial reports about the attack on Benghazi, General Dempsey and I met with President Obama and he ordered all available DoD assets to respond to the attack in Libya and to protect U.S. personnel and interests in the region. [Emphasis added.]
Then there's the sentence, immediately following:
The fighting would last for six hours more, but neither he nor Gen. Dempsey heard from the president again that night, Mr. Panetta said.Another falsehood as General Dempsey said on CNN three weeks ago:
CROWLEY: But when did you learn, if this was a seven-hour battle, we don't know when people died, and there when the ambassador died, but if this was a seven-hour battle, a U.S. strike force couldn't have gotten there in time to be of some service?And yet, Jack Kelly informs his readers that "the fighting" would "last" for more than 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 that's just the first two paragraphs - this is how he frames the rest of the column.
I'll ask it again: Doesn't anyone at the Post-Gazette fact-check Jack Kelly? Completely fact-check, I mean. Fact-check him enough so that everything he presents as a fact is, in fact, true.
It just doesn't look like it, guys. Sorry.