CBS News has released a clip of an interview by Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes on Sep. 12 with President Barack Obama that indicates Obama knew the assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was a premeditated terror attack–and suggests the White House later deceived the public by blaming protests against an anti-Islam video. CBS chose not to air the clip for over a month–but did air Obama’s attack on Romney that same night.
Obama told Kroft that the attack in Benghazi was different from the violent protest at the U.S. embassy in Cairo: “You’re right that this is not a situation that was exactly the same as what happened in Egypt, and my suspicion is, is that there are folks involved in this who were looking to target Americans from the start.”
Obama’s remarks pointed towards a premeditated attack, in contrast to the story the White House went on to tell for weeks.
CBS chose not to air that portion of the interview with President Obama–not even in the days and weeks that followed, when it was highly relevant–first to the question of the nature of the Benghazi attack, then to the question of whether the president had in fact called it an act of terror from the start.
What CBS chose to air, instead, was President Obama’s attack on his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, who had criticized the administration’s apologetic response to the Cairo demonstration.
Obama said Romney “seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later.” That portion of the interview aired immediately, and drove the news for days. Obama’s comment suggesting that the attack had been premeditated was not aired.
Attkisson reported this week that emails linking an Al Qaeda affiliate to the Benghazi attack had been sent to the White House Situation Room just over two hours after the attack had begun. The emails suggest that the Obama administration knew from the outset that the Benghazi attack had been a terrorist attack–and that it knowingly misled the public when it repeatedly claimed there was no evidence of terrorist involvement.
When the video story unraveled, the White House tried to argue that President Obama had called the Benghazi attack an act of terror all along. In the second presidential debate, the President famously pointed to his Sep. 12 statement in the Rose Garden as proof, though his reference to “acts of terror” on that occasion had been general and not specific to the Benghazi attack, which he implied had been provoked by the video.
The new CBS footage suggests that Obama did, in fact, describe the Benghazi attacks as premeditated terrorism–not in the Rose Garden but in the White House itself, in a portion of an interview that did not air until more than a month later.
During that time, both CBS and Obama could have referred to the interview, but did not–likely because doing so would have vindicated Obama at the cost of exposing his subsequent deceit.
The fact that CBS refrained from publishing the critical clip from the interview widens the political scandal surrounding Benghazi into a media scandal.
National Public Radio’s Mara Liasson criticized CBS on Fox News Special Report yesterday, saying that CBS ought to have made the entire interview with Obama available immediately, in the public interest.
Together with the president, CBS has much to explain.