State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland ended a series of questions about the Obama Administration’s changing narrative about the terrorist attack in Benghazi by saying that she’s paid to be “dumber” than other government officials.
“Look, I’m generally dumber than most of the rest of the government,” Nuland told reporters yesterday. “I mean, that’s what I’m paid to be.”
The comment drew a laugh, but Nuland was serious about not taking any more questions on the topic. “We’re not going to parse this any further,” she said sternly. “We’re just not.” (You can watch video of Nuland’s briefing above. To see these remarks, made towards the end of that dialogue, start at the 21:45 mark.)
That was her ultimate response to questions about whether the Obama Administration knew immediately that the attack “was more than a spontaneous attack.” The comment about being paid to be dumb came after she stood by Ambassador Susan Rice’s claim that it was spontaneous.
“Look, I’m not going to parse this 17 ways from this podium,” Nuland said. “What I am going to say is, obviously when one goes out and tries to represent what the totality of what we know, the intelligence community plays a large role in that. And they had given an assessment to the entire government, which was the basis on which Ambassador Rice spoke on Sunday, they themselves have talked very explicitly about how their assessment has evolved over time.”
These comments came after a reporter reminded her that a State Department official had contradicted the idea that the State Department thought a protest had sparked the attack.
“On the conference call on Tuesday night, the briefer said that an agent at the TOC instantly saw dozens of armed men flooding into the compound, that one of them – that the agent instantly yelled, “Attack, attack,” and that the agent immediately notified Washington of what was going on,” a reporter had asked Nuland. “On the same call, one of the senior officials said it was, quote, “not our conclusion that in the first several days, this was – that this was prompted by the anti-Islam video.” So how is it that Ambassador Rice came to such a different conclusion when she was on a Sunday show?”