Obama camp continues to duck, defend on Libya questions

By Matt Vasilogambros and Jonathan Miller

October 17, 2012

On the morning after the debate, President Obama’s team remained on the defensive over questions about the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Libya that killed four Americans.

During the debate on Tuesday night, Obama took responsibility for the U.S. diplomatic corps and attempted to counter Romney’s assertion that the administration shied from labeling the assault a terrorist attack. The two men sparred over the topic.

On Wednesday, Rep. Paul Ryan dismissed Obama's argument that he quickly labeled the attack an act of terrorism as an incomplete assertion. “It was a passing comment about acts of terror in general,” Ryan said on ABC’s Good Morning America. “It was not a claim that this was the result of a terrorist attack.”

Vice President Joe Biden, echoing Obama, said the Romney campaign tried to “politicize a tragedy” by criticizing the administration before the attacks had even concluded.

“Their strategy appears to be to make it appear that the president didn't care, didn't know, or was lying,” Biden said on ABC’s Good Morning America. “The fact of the matter is, the president was clear. We are going to get to the bottom of this. The whole world will know it.”

Last week, the administration said that neither the president nor the vice president were aware of requests for more security in Libya.

Citing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comments this week taking responsibility for the Benghazi attack, Biden said she affirmed what the White House has been saying for weeks: the president did not know of security requests from the consulate until after the attack.

“Neither the president nor I were told of the additional security request,” Biden said on CBS’s This Morning. “As Hillary has pointed out straightforwardly, that request never got to the president or me.”

Ryan would not answer questions on Wednesday morning over the Romney campaign’s initial reaction to the attacks. Instead, he continued his attack on the administration.

Appearing on Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Obama senior campaign adviser Robert Gibbs was asked whether President Obama had been briefed about previous attacks on the consulate in Benghazi. Gibbs responded that he was not “privy” to that information. “I’m happily ready to admit I don’t sit in those meetings,” he said. “I don’t have clearance to sit in those meetings.”

At one point, Gibbs was pressed on a question over when, specifically, the Obama administration labeled the attack an act of terror. Gibbs pulled a set of cue cards from his breast pocket and began reading quotes from Obama, one of which was from Sept. 13th in which the president said, “no act of terror will go unpunished.”

However, other administration officials claimed even days after the attack that it was "spontansous" and prompted by an anti-Islam video that was produced in the United States.

By Matt Vasilogambros and Jonathan Miller

October 17, 2012

http://www.govexec.com/defense/2012/10/obama-camp-continues-duck-defend-libya-questions/58830/