Last night President Obama got wee-weed-up claiming it was “offensive” to suggest that he or anyone on his team would mislead the public on the Benghazi attack. He then went on to immediately mislead the public about his own record on Benghazi.
In case you missed it, you can watch the exchange here. Romney asks if the President is saying he called Benghazi an “act of terror” on 9/12 and Obama says “Please proceed, governor.” Romney then says it was 14 days before Obama called it an “act of terror” and Obama interjects “get the transcript.” At this point Candy Crowley intercedes and notes that Obama did indeed use those words in his 9/12 rose garden speech about the incident.
Obama did use those words, but he certainly did not call Benghazi terrorism in the first two weeks after the attack. What Romney should have pointed out last night is that “act of terror” does not equal terrorism under this administration. In fact, if you go back to Obama’s 9/12 rose garden speech, you find that he was blaming the video for the “senseless violence” in Benghazi. That’s front and center in the 4th paragraph of Obama’s speech. His reference to “acts of terror” is an aside in the 10th paragraph after he has been discussing 9/11/01 and the loss of American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But if you have any doubt that “act of terror” does not equal terrorism, take a look at Jay Carney’s briefing on 9/14 (video below). Carney blames the YouTube video for the violence 14 times. He is specifically asked three times if he means to include Benghazi in this formulation and says “we don’t know otherwise…we have no information to suggest it was a preplanned attack.”
In other words, as far as the White House was concerned on 9/14, this was not a terrorist attack. Either Jay Carney was contradicting the President’s statement from two days earlier (and no one noticed) or Obama never claimed this was terrorism.
If you’re still not convinced, ABC reported that the President had called Benghazi a “terrorist attack” for the very first time on September 26th. Even the moderator of last night’s debate, Candy Crowley, had the impression that Obama had not called Benghazi a terror attack for more than two weeks.
What happened here is that the administration got caught blaming a video for something they knew almost immediately was an act of terrorism connected to al Qaeda. The statements of the President, Jay Carney and Ambassador Rice had become a political liability. So the administration revised history, beginning on October 10th, when Jay Carney had this exchange during his daily briefing:
Ed Henry, FOX News: If you’re saying that on September 12 the President called itterrorism, he used the phrase, ‘an act of terror.’ Then why were you atthis podium for several days after that saying we don’t know if it’sterrorism?
Carney: I never said that. I never said we don’t know if it’s terrorism.There is an issue about the definition of terrorism. This is thedefinition: an act of terror. As the president made clear. What we weretalking about is-
Henry: On September 12, the President believed this was terrorism?
Carney: He said, “it was an act of terror,” Ed. It was clearly,definitionally, if you look at the definition of terrorism, an act ofterror. An assault with arms on a diplomatic –
This is the game that President Obama was playing in last night’s debate. Though he and everyone else in his administration was blaming a YouTube video for two full weeks, he now hopes we will completely forget all of that and focus on three words that appeared in his 9/12 statement. Watch this clip of the President and Jay Carney yourself and see if you think they were calling this terrorism: