Last night in the second of the three Presidential Debates, Gov. Mitt Romney made a tactical mistake. In the course of questioning, moderator Candy Crowley brought up the subject of the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and 3 members of his staff. The question posed to President Obama by an undecided voter in the audience was from a man named Kerry Ladka:
“We were sitting around, talking about Libya, and we were reading and became aware of reports that the State Department refused extra security for our embassy in Benghazi, Libya, prior to the attacks that killed four Americans. Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?”
First and foremost, Obama never actually answers the question “Who was it that denied enhanced security and why,” but rather goes on to attack Romney for his statement following the attack:
“Well, let me first of all talk about our diplomats, because they serve all around the world and do an incredible job in a very dangerous situation. And these aren’t just representatives of the United States, they are my representatives. I send them there, oftentimes into harm’s way. I know these folks and I know their families. So nobody is more concerned about their safety and security than I am.
So as soon as we found out that the Benghazi consulate was being overrun, I was on the phone with my national security team and I gave them three instructions.
Number one, beef up our security and procedures, not just in Libya, but at every embassy and consulate in the region.
Number two, investigate exactly what happened, regardless of where the facts lead us, to make sure folks are held accountable and it doesn’t happen again.
And number three, we are going to find out who did this and we’re going to hunt them down, because one of the things that I’ve said throughout my presidency is when folks mess with Americans, we go after them.
Now Governor Romney had a very different response. While we were still dealing with our diplomats being threatened, Governor Romney put out a press release, trying to make political points, and that’s not how a commander in chief operates. You don’t turn national security into a political issue. Certainly not right when it’s happening. And people — not everybody agrees with some of the decisions I’ve made. But when it comes to our national security, I mean what I say. I said I’d end the war in Libya — in — in Iraq, and I did.
I said that we’d go after al-Qaeda and bin Laden, we have. I said we’d transition out of Afghanistan, and start making sure that Afghans are responsible for their own security, that’s what I’m doing. And when it comes to this issue, when I say that we are going to find out exactly what happened, everybody will be held accountable. And I am ultimately responsible for what’s taking place there because these are my folks, and I’m the one who has to greet those coffins when they come home. You know that I mean what I say.”
This is obfuscation of the first order.
Mitt Romney made his real mistake of the night by missing an opportunity to show that the President’s actions immediately after the attack were to engage in a concerted and administration-wide policy of denial, deception and cover-up with regard to the nature of the attack and the failures of his administration’s Middle East Policy.
Romney got hung up on whether or not Obama had described the attack as an “Act of Terror” in his 5 minute Rose Garden press conference (with no questions from the press) the following day. Obama had not, but instead used the following phrasing near the end of his statement:
“No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.”
However – far earlier in his statement, long before he even brought up the term, “acts of terror”, Obama said this:
“Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None. The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.”
This is the key to the cover-up. The initial determined effort by the Obama Administration was to link the attack on the embassy to the YouTube video which had offended Muslims with its portrayal of Mohammed. This is what Romney was trying and failing to get at, and this is the pivot point at which the truth was concealed from the American people. Combine this statement with Tweets from the American embassy in Cairo on September 11 which also tried to link the attacks to the video:
This is the bedrock of what Romney was trying to get across. Following the press conference, the administration proceeded full-tilt to link the attacks to the YouTube video, despite the fact that within 24 hours, it was known that the attacks were pre-meditated attacks planned by al-Qaida, and not related to the video at all.
“There will be more time later to reflect, but today, we have work to do. There is no higher priority than protecting our men and women wherever they serve. We are working to determine the precise motivations and methods of those who carried out this assault. Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet. America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear – there is no justification for this, none. Violence like this is no way to honor religion or faith. And as long as there are those who would take innocent life in the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace.”
Four days after the attack, despite knowing that the attacks had nothing to do with the video, United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice went on 5 different Sunday talk shows to further the claim that the attacks stemmed from a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam video.
Thirteen days after the attack, despite knowing that the attacks had nothing to do with the video, President Obama delivered his address to the United Nations and mentioned the offensive video 6 times.
Fifteen days after the attack, despite knowing that the attacks had nothing to do with the video, Obama went on the talkshow “The View” and again refused to unequivocally state that the attack was an Act of Terrorism, but insists that an investigation was ongoing, while sticking to his story that the even began with a protest against the video.
The pattern of denial, deceit, obfuscation and cover-up are starkly clear. The Obama Administration deliberately concealed the truth from the American people and the world. It is impossible to deny. However, with craven members of his team, a willing media and clueless supporters, Obama was able to keep the truth under wraps for a month.
Obama Lied. Stevens Died. The Media Helped.