During Tuesday’s White House press briefing, Fox’s Ed Henry questioned spokesman Jay Carney about the Obama administration’s stories regarding the Benghazi attack. Henry asked Carney, if military leaders knew immediately that it was an attack, why did Carney and other administration officials suggest that it wasn’t. The first video below is from that exchange. In two places, Carney allows that the attack was actually an attack.
“Of course it was an attack,” Carney says, scornfully to Henry. “The facility was attacked. There was never any doubt about…c’mon Ed.”
Near the end of the video, Carney goes farther: “The idea that we were somehow saying it wasn’t an attack? I mean, ya know. The sky is blue. Ya know. Up is not down, down is not up. Of course it was an attack.”
So that’s video number one. Carney: “There was never any doubt” that Benghazi was an attack.
Here’s video number two, from September 14, 2012. That’s three days after the attack. In this video, Carney expresses much doubt that Benghazi was an attack.
Carney: “These protests were in reaction to a video that had spread to the region.” He added: “We don’t know otherwise. We don’t have information to suggest that it was a pre-planned, uh, attack. The unrest we’ve seen around the region has been in reaction to this video that Muslims, many Muslims, find offensive.”
Carney only uses the word “attack” in order to dismiss the possibility that it was an attack.
Need more? No problem.
Carney continued: “And while the violence is reprehensible and unjustified, it is not a reaction to the 9-11 anniversary that we know of, or to US policy.”
Jake Tapper asks — this is three days after the attack — whether the White House believes that the violence resulted from protests over a movie.
Carney responds, “Look, this is obviously under investigation and after some back and forth, says “What I’m telling you is, this is under investigation. The unrest around the region has been in response to this video. We do not at this moment have information to suggest that, to tell you, would indicate that any of this unrest was pre-planned.”
Again, Carney refused to call Benghazi an “attack.” He went out of his way to deny that it was.
The fact is, the White House did have such information that would allow it to conclude that Benghazi was an attack, days before Carney said that they had no such information. The military knew within 15 minutes of the attack’s opening that it was a terrorist attack that bore the signatures of a planned and coordinated attack. They had reports from the ground, filtered through the State Department and the military, and an unarmed drone orbiting overhead sending back video in real-time. The military — specifically, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Carter Ham, then the commander of AFRICOM — told Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other administration officials apparently including the president himself that it was an attack.
What Jay Carney said Tuesday cannot be squared away with what he said to the press three days after the deadly assault. The statements are in direct conflict with one another. Carney needs to be called to Congress to testify and explain the difference between what he said on September 14, 2012 and what he is saying now.