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Jay Carney on 9/20: The White House “hadn’t” called Benghazi a “terrorist attack”

TO:                         Interested Parties

FROM:                  Jonathan Collegio

Communications Director, American Crossroads

RE:                          Obama’s untenable position on Benghazi

DATE:                    October 17, 2012

Last night, President Obama claimed that from the beginning, the White House held that the attack in Benghazi was an “act of terror.”

The President clearly misled the American people with this claim, because if Obama’s Rose Garden speech was indeed the White House position, it did not inform any subsequent statement by the White House press officeand was even directly contradicted by his own spokesman several days later.

On September 20 – eight days after Obama claims to have called the Benghazi attack an “act of terror” – Jay Carney affirmed to reporters that the White House had never called it “a terrorist attack.”

From the gaggle on Air Force One, en route Miami, 9/20/2012:

Q: Can you — have you called it a terrorist attack before? Have you said that?

MR. CARNEY: I haven’t, but – I mean, people attacked our embassy. It’s an act of terror by definition.

Q: Yes, I just hadn’t heard you –

MR. CARNEY: It doesn’t have to do with what date it occurred.

Q: No, I just hadn’t heard the White House say that this was an act of terrorism or a terrorist attack. And I just –

MR. CARNEY: I don’t think the fact that we hadn’t is not — as our NCTC Director testified yesterday, 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 in the Benghazi area. We are looking at indications that individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to al Qaeda or al Qaeda’s affiliates, in particular al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Here, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney actually affirmed Gov. Romney’s position that the White House did not call the Benghazi attack an act of terrorism. Carney also said the now infamous video “precipitated some of the unrest in Benghazi” the day before.

President Barack Obama’s position on Benghazi is now untenable for a host of reasons:

  1. If the White House really held that Benghazi was a terrorist attack, why did Jay Carney not agree with that assessment six days later?
  2. If the White House really held that Benghazi was a terrorist attack, why did Jay Carney say the now infamous video “precipitated some of the unrest in Benghazi” on September 19?
  3. 3.       If the White House really held that Benghazi was a terrorist attack starting with the Rose Garden speech, did the president make this assertion before his intelligence officials came to that conclusion?
  4. If the White House really viewed Benghazi as an act of terrorism on the anniversary of 9/11, was it appropriate for the President to attend political campaign events in Las Vegas and Colorado over the next two days?
  5. If the White House really viewed Benghazi as terrorism, did it undertake any efforts to correct the record laid down by UN Ambassador Susan Rice when she said repeatedly that the Benghazi attack was the result of demonstrations following the video?

President Obama clearly misled the American people last night on Benghazi, as no subsequent statement by the White House or the president’s own spokesman reflected what he claimed in the debate. The President’s deception is made worse by the fact that it involved not just a dispute about policy or economic outcomes, but a terrorist attack that resulted in the assassination of an American ambassador. 

Barack Obama is trying to rewrite history, while the record unequivocally contradicts his claim.