Attacks 'Grew Spontaneously Out of a Video Protest'
5:50 PM, Oct 17, 2012 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
He quotes from my piece:
This, Weigel writes, is “completely misleading.” And he’s right. I was wrong.
Obama did indeed say something about a terrorist attacks.
That’s my mistake. And in a debate which turns on specificity of language, nothing is more important than accurately rendering what the two sides have said.
My point, very poorly made, was that Obama once again emphasized the video and passed on an opportunity to very clearly declare: What happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.
It seems clear that the White House wanted to avoid this kind of statement until it had no choice – after National Counterterrorism Center head Matthew Olsen said under oath that it was a terrorist attack.
And on that point, I can add something to the timeline that makes that even clearer. American Crossroads highlights something from the 9/20/12 gaggle with Jay Carney that I’d been told (before the gaggle was transcribed) was off-the-record.
Carney says twice that his use of the phrase “terrorist attack” was new for the White House. And, as I point out in my longer timeline, reporters hearing this from the White House certainly regarded it as “news” – and did again a week later when Carney was asked to clarify that it was the president, and not just his spokesman, who believed that the Benghazi assault was a terrorist attack.
Weigel runs into his own problems later, though, when he claims that Susan Rice, like Obama, “never suggested that the falsehood that the Libya attacks grew spontaneously out of a video protest.” Weigel points to her interview on ABC to back up his contention:
If Rice didn’t say that the attack “grew spontaneously out of a video protest” in the section he quotes, it’s probably because she said it immediately before that. In fact, Rice said almost precisely what Weigel says she avoided saying.
When Jake Tapper ask Rice about Benghazi, she said:
So the attacks “grew spontaneously out of a video protest.”
In short, there’s no question the Obama administration sought to downplay for more than a week what the intelligence demonstrated clearly: Benghazi was a premeditated, highly organized terrorist attack conducted by al Qaeda-linked terrorists.