Media Matters: Obama Said Benghazi Attacks Were Terror All Along
Like they did with Joe Biden, Media Matters once again is running defense for the Obama administration on the terrorist attacks on our consulate in Benghazi that killed 4 Americans including Chris Stevens, the ambassador to Libya.
There was an exchange last night on the issue of those attacks. As Mitt Romney attempted to go after the President and his administration blaming the attacks on an obscure YouTube video and not calling it a terrorist attack until nearly 14 days later, Candy Crowley decided to leap in and play “fact checker”, saying Obama was right when he claimed to have declared the attack to be terrorism in his rose garden comments on September 12th.
Crowley had to walk that back after the debate, saying Romney was right. The President used the phrase “acts of terror” but he used the phrase in a general sense just after discussing the attacks of 9/11/2001 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Enter Media Matters. They now want to say the President was claiming it was a terrorist attack the day after and if you disagree, you’re some kind of newfound “truther.” They write:
During tonight’s presidential debate, moderator Candy Crowley corrected Mitt Romney’s false claim that President Obama did not refer to the September 11 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya as an act of terrorism the day after the attack.
ALl one has to do is read the transcript to see that Obama was referring to “acts of terror” in a generic sense:
As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it. Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.
No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.
Six-figure earning dunce Eric Boehlert, double down this morning and tweeted:
— Eric Boehlert (@EricBoehlert) October 17, 2012
He can’t even get his own date right. He meant September 13th.
So Media Matters now takes the position that President Obama, out of the gate, was declaring this to be a terrorist attack. If that is true, why then, were the following statements made by members of the administration?
September 12 — White House spokesman Jay Carney, in response to questions about whether the attack was planned:
“It’s too early for us to make that judgment. I think — I know that this is being investigated, and we’re working with the Libyan government to investigate the incident. So I would not want to speculate on that at this time.”
September 13 — Jay Carney:
“The protests we’re seeing around the region are in reaction to this movie. They are not directly in reaction to any policy of the United States or the government of the United States or the people of the United States.”
September 13 — State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland:
“Well, as we said yesterday when we were on background, we are very cautious about drawing any conclusions with regard to who the perpetrators were, what their motivations were, whether it was premeditated, whether they had any external contacts, whether there was any link, until we have a chance to investigate along with the Libyans.
September 14 — Jay Carney:
“We were not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent.”
September 16 — Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on CBS’ “Face the Nation”:
“We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.”
September 18 — Jay Carney:
“Our belief based on the information we have is it was the video that caused the unrest in Cairo, and the video and the unrest in Cairo that helped — that precipitated some of the unrest in Benghazi and elsewhere. What other factors were involved is a matter of investigation.”
It was not until September 19th, that somebody in the administration said directly about the attacks, that it was terror related.
September 19 — Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew Olson, responding to a question by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman on whether the attack was a terrorist attack:
“They were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy. … At this point, what I would say is that a number of different elements appear to have been involved in the attack, including individuals connected to militant groups that are prevalent in eastern Libya, particularly the Benghazi area, as well we are looking at indications that individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to al Qaeda or al Qaeda affiliates, in particular al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.” Olson also said U.S. officials had no “specific evidence of significant advanced planning.”
Yet the very next day, President Obama was still blaming the video:
September 20 — President Obama at a town hall meeting organized by the Spanish-language Univsion Network, responding to a question about the possible involvement of al Qaeda:
“What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.”
In fact, on September 25th, President Obama gave an address before the United Nations and again blamed the YouTube video for what happened in Benghazi.
I do believe Mitt Romney blew a golden opportunity on this point. I think he was partly thrown off by Crowley’s absurd refereeing on behalf of the President.
That being said, Obama did himself harm on this going forward, because all it does is invite more scrutiny on this issue. You can bet that Media Matters will be ready to come to his aid when needed.