The Obama administration and a complicit batch of media have stonewalled on this as long as they could. It’s been over seven weeks now of a handful of journalists and former military and diplomats asking questions about what happened in Benghazi, Libya on September 11. Americans deserve answers now, before the election.

They’ve been trickling out for weeks, and more are coming out now.

WaPo on the recent reports and conflicting reactions to them:

So what did happen on the night of Sept.?11, when Woods, Ambassador Christopher Stevens and two others were killed? The best way to establish the facts would be a detailed, unclassified timeline of events; officials say that they are preparing one and that it may be released this week. That’s a must, even in the campaign’s volatile final week.

The piece goes into claims and counter-claims, facts as they’re known and reactions from different players, Defense and CIA and “administration officials” among them, using info on where drones and gunships were at that time as a partial excuse.

If these rebuttals are accurate, that raises another troubling question: At a time when al-Qaeda was strengthening its presence in Libya and across North Africa, why didn’t the United States have more military hardware nearby?

Looking back, it may indeed have been wise not to bomb targets in Libya that night. Given the uproar in the Arab world, this might have been the equivalent of pouring gasoline on a burning fire. But the anguish of Woods’s father is understandable: His son’s life might have been saved by a more aggressive response, had one been possible. The Obama administration needs to level with the country about why it made its decisions.

Columnist Jonah Goldberg in the Chicago Tribune:

Last week, Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported that sources on the ground in Libya say they pleaded for support during the attack on the Benghazi consulate that led to the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. They were allegedly told twice to “stand down.” Worse, there are suggestions that there were significant military resources available to counterattack, but requests for help were denied.

If true, the White House’s concerted effort to blame the attack on a video crumbles, as do several other fraudulent claims. Yet, last Friday, the president boasted that “the minute I found out what was happening” in Benghazi, he ordered that everything possible be done to protect our personnel. That is either untrue, or he’s being disobeyed on grave matters.

Important point.

This isn’t an “October surprise” foisted on the media by opposition research; it’s news.

This story raises precisely the sort of “big issues” the media routinely claim elections should be about. For instance, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last week that the “basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on, without having some real-time information about what’s taking place.” If real-time video of the attack and communications with Americans on the ground begging for assistance doesn’t constitute “real-time information,” what does?

Real Clear Politics picks it up:

The ride on the Obama bus gets bumpier as more bodies are thrown under it…

The journalists went under the bus because the Foreign Service and career intelligence officers the administration tried to scapegoat refused to go there. They’ve leaked emails that reveal the White House was informed while it was still going on that the attack was the work of terrorists affiliated with al-Qaida.

To put this in the context of the Mother of All Scandals, these emails are the equivalent of a transcript of what was on the 181/2 minutes of the secret White House tapes President Nixon’s secretary erased.

“What did the president know, and when did he know it?” Sen. Howard Baker, R-Tenn, asked during the Watergate hearings. The answer in the leaked emails is that the president knew everything, all along.

They were sent by the Regional Security Officer in Libya to the State Department in Washington, the White House Situation Room, the Pentagon, the FBI and thedirector of National Intelligence.

The first said the consulate was being attacked by “about 20″ armed men.

The third, sent two hours later, reported that Ansar al Sharia, an Islamist militia, was claiming credit for the attack.

A fourth, sent at 11:57 p.m. EDT, described a mortar attack on the consulate annex, where the Americans were killed.

About 300 watch officers at the NSC, State, Defense, the FBI and other agencies would have read these emails as soon as they were received, and informed their superiors right away. This was a crisis. Men armed with mortars, machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades were attacking a U.S. consulate. The ambassador was missing. The secretary of state, the DNI and the president would have been briefed within hours.

When the “three a.m. phone call” came (at 6:07 p.m. EDT), the president ignored it. The day after learning Ambassador Stevens had been murdered and sensitive intelligence documents were missing, he jetted off to a fundraiser in Las Vegas.

And for nearly two weeks afterward, Mr. Obama and his senior aides blamed the attack on the Youtube video — even though they knew that wasn’t true.

His interview with Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes, taped the day after the attack, indicates that Mr. Obama has been lying from the get-go.

“My suspicion is, is that there are folks involved in [the attack on the consulate] who were looking to target Americans from the start,” the president told Mr. Kroft.

The fact that CBS cut this from the broadcast — airing instead Mr. Obama’s attack on Mitt Romney for criticizing his Middle East policy — indicates why the White House remains confident the “mainstream” media will continue to downplay the scandal.

This cover-up, like that in Watergate, goes right to the top. What’s being covered up is much worse than a “third rate burglary.” Why was security so lax? Why were the ambassador’s pleas for more turned down? Why did the president lie? Americans have a right to know. Few in the media have tried to find out.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....