Ex-WH Spokesman: Bad 'Parsing' to Believe I Said Al-Qaeda Part of Benghazi Attack
Ex-White House National Security spokesman Tommy Vietor said on Tuesday that reconciling his previous statements of Al Qaeda involvement in the terrorist attack on Benghazi—as compared to claims by the New York Times’ David Kirkpatrick that Al Qaeda was not involved—is nothing more than a “parsing game.”
Vietor, who left the White House earlier this year to form consulting firm Fenway Strategies with President Barack Obama’s longtime speechwriter Jon Favreau, told this reporter via Twitter that pointing out the contradiction between his past and current stances on who is behind the attack in Benghazi is just a "game."
The Times’ Kirkpatrick attempted to downplay the connections of Al Qaeda-linked terrorists involved in the attack in a lengthy piece published over the weekend. But, as Breitbart News reported in the wake of the Kirkpatrick story, the claim the Times published directly contradicts comments made by Vietor in May 2013, among other statements and talking points documents the Obama administration itself prepared.
In an email to specific reporters that liberal Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent published on May 15, 2013, Vietor admitted that al Qaeda-linked terrorists were in fact part of the terrorist attack in Benghazi.
“[W]hile it’s true that some of the Benghazi attackers had links to al Qaeda,” Vietor wrote in part then, before adding, “no one has ever claimed that this was a long-planned AQ operation by Zawahiri or AQ’s leadership like 9/11.”
Over the course of the past several days since the Times piece, this reporter has been asking Vietor about the previous statements he made when he was a National Security spokesman for the White House. Vietor’s first response via Twitter was that the comment was not in context, arguing that whether or not Al Qaeda was involved in the attack has something to do with a political “worldview” of an observer. “you wanna cut and paste the line after that, or does it not fit your worldview?” Vietor wrote.
When asked whether or not he stood by his previous statement as published by the Washington Post, Vietor said comparing his previous comments that confirmed—as a National Security spokesman for the president of the United States—that Al Qaeda was, in fact, involved in the attack on Benghazi, Vietor said comparing one statement to another is a “parsing game” and cast doubt on his previous statements that there were links to Al Qaeda with the attack.
“read that next sentence I wrote,” Vietor tweeted. “And tangential ‘links' are addressed in the NYT story. Your parsing game is weak.”
The "next sentence" in Vietor's May email states: "The charge that there was an administration effort to 'sell' a normalization narrative in Libya is nonsensical," which neither refutes nor addresses his statement that Al Qaeda had at least some involvement in the attack.
Vietor has not answered whether he had prior knowledge of the Times story pre-publication. Through a spokesman, now-former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denied any prior knowledge of the story.