Panetta: 'Nobody Bears the Fault' for Benghazi

October 14th, 2014 12:48 PM

Those who see Leon Panetta as a stalking horse for Hillary Clinton just got some more ammunition for their argument.  Last week, Panetta helped distance Hillary from President Obama's foreign policy failures by blasting Obama for mistakes in Syria and Iraq.

But today, discussing the foreign policy issue on which Hillary is most vulnerable--Benghazi--Panetta suddenly became very forgiving.  Appearing on the Diane Rehm show, Panetta declared "nobody is to blame for Benghazi."

The relevant part of the interview begins at 33:30.

For good measure, Panetta also cleared anyone in the administration of lying about Benghazi.  In response to Rehm's question about "Republicans and right-wing politicians" accusing the administration of lying, Panetta acknowledged coming to a different conclusion as to whether a video provoked the attack. But he then claimed "I certainly have not seen any evidence and in my experience did not experience anybody who lied." Isn't that convenient -- for Hillary?

DIANE REHM: I wanted to ask you one follow-up question on Benghazi. Many Republicans and many right-wing politicians have said that the president or the administration lied about what happened in Benghazi. Is there any evidence that there were lies on the table?

LEON PANETTA: No, I certainly have not seen any evidence, in my experience did not experience anybody who lied about what took place. One of the things that happened, that created the controversy were the talking points that CIA had developed that indicated that it was a demonstration that got out of hand. I'm not quite sure why they came to that conclusion. It certainly wasn't my sense at the time. But they looked at the intelligence and that's where they came [out]. I think those talking points were wrong.  I think they probably should have -- the talking points should have said we are investigating this matter and we have not determined exactly what happened.  That should have been the talking points.

REHM: And stopped right there until they knew more.

PANETTA: That's correct.

REHM: Do you think that -- you know, Republicans are still pursuing this and making it a big deal in the election.

PANETTA: I know. I've seen that. And I assume they'll continue to try to beat that.

REHM: Right through 2016.

PANETTA: But I think the American people need to know that whether it was the commission that looked at it or whether it was the committees in congress, both Republican committees on the House side, Senate committees, Democratic committees on the Senate side, that all of them have come to the same conclusion. That it's unfortunate that it happened, but that there is nobody who bears the fault for what took place.  But everyone needs to learn the lessons about what we need to do to make sure it doesn't happen again.