The key to Benghazi is the 5pm DC-time meeting in the Oval Office with Secretary of Defense Panetta and Vice-President Biden. Obama could not have said only “Do all that you can.” It is not enough. Panetta would return with something like, “So, you are granting the military CROSS-BORDER AUTHORITY to conduct the rescue mission?”
It’s a yes-no question on CROSS-BORDER AUTHORITY. Did he give it, or not?
CROSS-BORDER AUTHORITY is a scepter of authority that only the President carries, nobody else.
Panetta would not be told, “Check with my politicos.” Panetta would not be left with ambiguous orders. He would not walk out of the Oval Office without explicit instructions, explicity granting or not granting CROSS-BORDER AUTHORITY.
And there is a record of it. These guys go everywhere with aides. At the very least formal level, Panetta, to protect himself, walks out of the Oval Office and tells his aides and the generals flocking to him for instructions, “The President has granted you CROSS-BORDER AUTHORITY. Save our consulate.”
This waving of the CROSS-BORDER AUTHORITY scepter is a historic, critical moment. There is NO ambiguity about it. It is given, or withheld. No middle ground.
Crossing an international border with a military force, without permission of the nation invaded, is ONLY up to the President. Always, and every time.