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By W. Gardner Selby October 15, 2013

Dewhurst, suggesting Obama's impeachment, airs ridiculous claim about White House fielding live video of Benghazi attacks as they occurred

David Dewhurst told a group that President Barack Obama ought to be impeached, saying later that his reasons include Obama standing by while the White House fielded live video of the fatal Benghazi attacks, the Texas Observer reported.

Dewhurst, the third-term lieutenant governor faced with three challengers for the 2014 Republican nomination, suggested Obama’s impeachment while speaking Oct. 14, 2013, to the Northeast Tarrant County Tea Party, which also heard from the other GOP candidates.

"This election is about protecting you and your freedoms, which are given to you by God, but which are being trampled on by Barack Obama right now. I don’t know about you, but Barack Obama ought to be impeached," Dewhurst said, according to the Observer. "Not only for trampling on our liberties, but what he did in Benghazi is just a crime."

Afterward, Dewhurst elaborated on his criticism of the administration’s handling of the September 2012 attack in Benghazi, which killed Americans including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stephens. "I’m very concerned about Benghazi, in which all of the national news reporting indicated that live video was streaming into the White House," Dewhurst told Observer reporter Christopher Hooks. "That means that there was an overhead platform, probably a drone in the area. At least that’s what it tells me," he said. "And for not mobilizing some response to protect the ambassador and those three Americans is just outrageous to me. Just outrageous."

We asked Dewhurst for the basis of his reference to a live video feed of the attacks reaching the White House and didn’t hear back.

It didn’t take us long to find that the "Benghazi live stream" claim has already been debunked by the "urban legends" website.

That Snopes post, last updated Nov. 1, 2012, traces the claim to an Oct. 24, 2012, Forbes magazine op-ed article, which opened: "Just one hour after the seven-hour-long terrorist attacks upon the U.S. consulate in Benghazi began, our commander-in-chief, vice president, secretary of defense and their national security team gathered together in the Oval Office listening to phone calls from American defenders desperately under siege and watching real-time video of developments from a drone circling over the site.  Yet they sent no military aid that might have intervened in time to save lives."

The Forbes article did not provide a source for writer Larry Bell’s reference to real-time video.

In its article, Snopes noted that a CBS News story also posted Oct. 24, 2012, stated that the FBI and State Department had reviewed video from security cameras that captured the attack on the consulate. The CBS News report continued: "The audio feed of the attack was being monitored in real time in Washington by diplomatic security official Charlene Lamb. CBS News has learned that video of the assault was recovered 20 days later from the more than 10 security cameras at the compound. The government security camera footage of the attack was in the possession of local Libyans until the week of Oct. 1," CBS News said.

Earlier, on Oct. 12, 2012, the Daily Beast quoted two unidentified U.S. intelligence officials as saying that video taken the night of the attacks, showing a military-style assault took place, had been recovered the week before from the site of the attacks.

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"The Obama administration has been studying the videos, taken from closed-circuit cameras throughout the Benghazi consulate’s four-building compound, for clues about who was responsible for the attack and how it played out," the story said.

The story did not mention any live stream into the White House, though it said that in "addition to the footage from the consulate cameras, the U.S. government is also poring over video taken from an overhead U.S. surveillance drone that arrived for the final hour of the night battle at the consulate compound and nearby annex."

Our search for news stories on such a live stream, using the Nexis database, led us to an Oct. 29, 2012, Slate news story noting a claim by Charles Woods, whose son, Tyrone, died in the attacks, that the White House watched the attacks on a live stream over seven hours. The story also notes the CBS News report of a drone flying over the fatal scene hours after the attacks began. Slate quoted a White House spokesman, Tommy Vietor, as saying: "No one watched video of the attack at the White House as it happened."

Separately, as documented by Erik Wemple, who writes a "reported opinion blog" on the news media for The Washington Post, Fox News commentator Sean Hannity repeatedly incorrectly stated that the State Department watched live video as the attacks occurred. In a Jan. 23, 2013, news story, Wemple said that earlier that day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked before a House committee about live video feeds to the agency and replied: "There was no monitor, there was no real time."

Earlier, on Oct. 26, 2012, Fox News said it had learned that "there were two military surveillance drones redirected to Benghazi shortly after the attack on the consulate began. They were already in the vicinity. The second surveillance craft was sent to relieve the first drone, perhaps due to fuel issues. Both were capable of sending real-time visuals back to U.S. officials in Washington, D.C. Any U.S. official or agency with the proper clearance, including the White House Situation Room, State Department, CIA, Pentagon and others, could call up that video in real time on their computers." The story did not say any video was watched inside the agencies.

Our ruling

Dewhurst said live video of the Benghazi attacks reached the White House as the attacks occurred.

That’s not confirmed by news reports we found, while the White House said in October 2012 that no one there watched a live video feed.

Given that this claim has been debunked for about a year, we see it as incorrect and ridiculous. Pants on Fire!

PANTS ON FIRE – The statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim.

Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select facts to check.

Our Sources

News article, "David Dewhurst Calls for Obama’s Impeachment," the Texas Observer, Oct. 15, 2013

Opinion article, "White House Watched Benghazi Attacked And Didn't Respond," by Larry Bell, Forbes magazine, Oct. 24, 2012

News report, "U.S. military poised for rescue in Benghazi," CBS News, Oct. 24, 2012

News article, "Video From Benghazi Consulate Shows Organized Attack," the Daily Beast, Oct. 12, 2012

News article, "Can Conservatives Swiftboat Obama Over Benghazi?," Slate, Oct. 29, 2012

Reported opinion blog post, "Hillary Clinton torpedoes Hannity: ‘There was no real time’ video," Erik Wemple, The Washington Post, Jan. 23, 2013

News story, "EXCLUSIVE: CIA operators were denied request for help during Benghazi attack, sources say," Fox News, Oct. 26, 2012

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More by W. Gardner Selby

Dewhurst, suggesting Obama's impeachment, airs ridiculous claim about White House fielding live video of Benghazi attacks as they occurred

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