• With: Dan Henninger, Bill McGurn, Jason Riley, Kim Strassel, Bret Stephens, Matt Kaminski

    RILEY: Two things. I think you will see Obama being more aggressive, closer to Biden's performance here, but without the smirking, without the condescension --

    GIGOT: And more dangerous potentially for Romney.

    RILEY: And the difficulty is the format of the next debate. When ordinary people are asking the question, it's hard to do that and then turn to your opponent and attack.

    GIGOT: Briefly, Kim?

    STRASSEL: Look, one of the problems the Obama campaign has had is up before Denver, they were careful not to have the president be aggressive in attacks because it would have a knock on his likability numbers. You are seeing that happen now. So that is also the burden he bears going into this. There's a lot of Independent who are still interested in voting for him because they like him. If he's very mean and very nasty the way Biden was this week that could potentially hurt him more, especially among sub groups like women.

    GIGOT: All right.

    When we come back, this week's congressional hearing on Libya sheds new light on what happened before, during and after the September 11th Benghazi attack, and raises new questions about the administration's response.


    BIDEN: We will get to the bottom of it. And wherever the facts lead us, wherever they lead us, we will make clear to the American public that whatever mistakes were made will not be made again.




    REP. RAUL LABRADOR, R - ID: Given the information that you saw on TV and your knowledge of the situation in Libya, did you come to a conclusion as to whether this was a terrorist act, or whether it was based on some film that was on the Internet, Lt. Col. Wood.

    LT. COL. ANDREW WOOD: It was instantly recognizable to me as a terrorist attack.

    LABRADOR: Instantly recognizable?

    WOOD: Yes, sir.

    REP. RAUL LABRADOR: And why is that?

    WOOD: Mainly because of my prior knowledge there. I almost expected the attack to come.


    GIGOT: Powerful and potentially damaging testimony this week from Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, who commanded a security team there prior to the September 11th assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. The House Government Reform and Oversight Committee held hearings Wednesday into that attack, which killed four Americans, including U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.

    We are back with Dan Henninger. Wall Street Journal foreign affairs columnist, Bret Stephens; and editorial board member, Matt Kaminski.

    So, Matt, you followed the hearings this week. What did we learn that we didn't know?

    MATT KAMINSKI, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: I think three things principally. First of all, we learned there was no protest at the Benghazi mission.

    GIGOT: No demonstration at all?

    KAMINSKI: None at all. There were no anti-video protesters there. And that State seems to have known this much earlier than the administration let on. The second thing we learned is that they definitely thought it was a terrorist attack earlier than they made clear. The third thing we learned was that repeated requests to boost security at the Libyan mission were turn down and an elite force led by Lt. Col. Wood of 16 men was pulled out in August --


    GIGOT: Pulled out?

    KAMINSKI: -- asked to extend into the fall.

    GIGOT: We have a clip at the debate, because Benghazi was a big topic at the vice presidential debate. Let's listen.


    RYAN: Our ambassador in Paris has a Marine attachment guarding him. Shouldn't we have a Marine detachment guarding our ambassador in Benghazi, a place where we knew there was an Al Qaeda cell with arms?

    BIDEN: Well, we weren't told they wanted more security. And we did not know they wanted more security.

    And, by the way, at the time, we were told exactly -- we said exactly what the intelligence community told us that they knew. That was the assessment. And as the intelligence community changed their view, we made it clear they changed their view.


    GIGOT: Bret, blame it on the intelligence community. How is that going to play?

    BRET STEPHENS, FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, maybe it will play well if the Republicans allow them to get away with that. We've been saying consistently, and we've been talking about Libya for a long time on this show, this was a failure of policy. It wasn't a failure of intelligence. In fact, intelligence, as Matt just pointed out, was all there. We knew what was happening in Benghazi. We knew very quickly what kind of incident we faced. We had been tracking Al Qaeda in Maghreb, in North Africa. This was not a failure of intelligence. This was inattention by the administration and then a later effort to spin it in a way that was politically convenient by blaming this video instead of the rise of extremism there.

    GIGOT: Dan, throwing the intelligence community over the side though is -- has -- politically, pretty risky strategy in the past for political leaders.

    HENNINGER: It is, but I would say it's of a piece with the Obama/Biden strategy. He said right there, we didn't know. By "we," he means the vice president and the president. It's of a piece, Paul, with what they said about the recession and the economy. Obama said the economy wasn't my fault, George Bush did it. And now Joe Biden is saying, we didn't know, the intelligence community didn't tell us. They have this instinct not to take responsibility at all for any serious event.

    KAMINSKI: The hearings show they did know. There were requests put in to State for more security because they were very worried things were getting out of control in Libya this year.

    GIGOT: But, does that mean there's a fissure here between Secretary of State Clinton's State Department and their narrative and the administration and the political campaign's narrative, which wants to say, well, it was the intelligence community or we didn't get the right story?