President Obama claims he was only repeating what the intelligence community told him when his administration asserted that the attack in Benghazi began with a spontaneous protest inspired by an Internet video. If that’s the case, there is a simple way to prove it: Give the new congressional select committee investigating Benghazi his daily intelligence briefings that show exactly what he was told.
There is precedent for doing so. In 2004, at the request of the 9/11 Commission, President George W. Bush declassified and publicly released the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) delivered to him before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. No sitting president had ever declassified a PDB while still in office. But Bush did it anyway, releasing the report titled “Bin Laden determined to attack inside the U.S.” It warned that the FBI had detected “patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings” but contained no actionable intelligence that could have stopped the 9/11 attacks from happening.
What’s good enough for Bush should be good enough for Obama. Congress should ask the president to follow precedent and release the PDBs he received in the days after the Benghazi attack.
There is no good reason for Obama to refuse such a request. If Obama is right that the intelligence community told him the attack was the result of a protest over the Internet video, releasing the PDBs will demonstrate that he is telling the truth — and put the Benghazi debate to rest once and for all.