President Obama claimed during last night’s debate that he cried terrorism immediately after the Libya attack, but in doing so, he contradicted his own spokesman.
Nine days after the assault, a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney if they had called the Libya assault a terrorist attack.
“I haven’t,” Carney replied on September 20th. And he was speaking for the White House, not just himself, as was made clear when he cautioned reporters against thinking it was significant that “we hadn’t” called it a terrorist attack yet.
Mitt Romney had a back-and-forth last night about whether Obama treated the assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, as a terrorist attack or a spontaneous protest gone bad. Obama wriggled off the hook when CNN’s Candy Crowley confirmed that Obama had used the words “act of terror” during his September 12 Rose Garden speech.
Obama opened that Rose Garden speech by blaming the attack on an anti-Islam Youtube video, even though he referred generically to “acts of terror” towards the end of the speech after mentioning the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.
The president now claims that phrase referred to the September 11, 2012 attack as well, but it took another week for the U.S. government to refer specifically to the murder of four Americans as a terrorist attack.
“I would say yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy,” NCTC director Matt Olsen told Congress on September 19th.
The next day, Carney confirmed to reporters that this was the first time they had called the attack “a terrorist attack.”