Tate Zeigler (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
Washington – U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today released the following statement on President Obama’s comments this afternoon on the attack against the U.S. Special Mission facility in Benghazi, Libya that killed four brave Americans on September 11, 2012:
“During a press conference this afternoon, President Obama claimed that, ‘The day after [Benghazi] happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism.’ This statement contradicts his comments over the course of two weeks after the attack in which the President repeatedly and specifically refused, in the heat of his re-election campaign, to label Benghazi a terrorist attack, despite the fact that there was compelling evidence that it was an al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist attack.
“To be clear, on September 12th in the Rose Garden, President Obama made a generic reference to ‘acts of terror.’ But that same day he was specifically asked by Steve Kroft of CBS’ ‘60 Minutes’ if he believed Benghazi was a terrorist attack, and the President refused to say so, stating, ‘it’s too early to know exactly how this came about, what group was involved.’ Six days later on ‘The Late Show with David Letterman,’ the President was asked what happened in Benghazi and responded by blaming the attack on an ‘extremely offensive video.’ Two days after that on Univision, the President said ‘we’re still doing an investigation,’ and blamed it in part on ‘the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video.’ Four days later on ‘The View,’ Joy Behar asked specifically if it was an act of terrorism, and the President again said ‘we’re still doing an investigation.’ The next day, in remarks to the United Nations in New York a full two weeks after the attack, President Obama still made no reference to Benghazi as an act of terrorism but blamed recent violence on ‘a crude and disgusting video [that] sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world.’
“In light of recent revelations and whistleblower testimony last week before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, it is very clear that we need a Joint Select Committee to resolve these contradictions and answer the many other unanswered questions about this tragedy. The Administration is spinning the American people and stonewalling Congress. This is unacceptable. The American people and the loved ones of those killed in Benghazi deserve to know the truth.”
PRESIDENT OBAMA ON BENGHAZI: SEPTEMBER 12-25
September 12, Rose Garden: President Obama makes generic reference to “no act of terror”
OBAMA: "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."
September 12, CBS’ “60 Minutes:” Answering question about whether he believes that Libya “was a terrorist attack,” President Obama says “It’s too early to know exactly how this came about, what group was involved …”
KROFT: "Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism in connection with the Libya Attack, do you believe that this was a terrorist attack?"
OBAMA: "Well it’s too early to know exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans. And we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice, one way or the other."
September 18, CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman:” President Obama blames attack on “extremely offensive video”
LETTERMAN: “Now, I don’t understand, um, the ambassador to Libya killed in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi. Is this an act of war? Are we at war now? What happens here?”
OBAMA: “Here's what happened. ... You had a video that was released by somebody who lives here, sort of a shadowy character who – who is extremely offensive video directed at – at Mohammed and Islam…”
LETTERMAN: “Making fun of the Prophet Mohammed.”
OBAMA: “Making fun of the Prophet Mohammed. And so, this caused great offense in much of the Muslim world. But what also happened was, extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the one, the consulate in Libya.”
September 20, Univision: President Obama says “we’re still doing an investigation”
UNIVISION: “We have reports that the White House said today that the attacks in Libya were a terrorist attack. Do you have information indicating that it was Iran, or al Qaeda was behind organizing the protests?”
OBAMA: “Well, we're still doing an investigation, and there are going to be different circumstances in different countries. And so I don’t want to speak to something until we have all the information. What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests...”
September 24, “The View:” President Obama says “we’re still doing an investigation”
JOY BEHAR: "It was reported that people just went crazy and wild because of this anti-Muslim movie, or anti-Muhammad, I guess, movie. But then I heard Hillary Clinton say that it was an act of terrorism. Is it? What do you say?"
OBAMA: "Well, we’re still doing an investigation. There’s no doubt that the kind of weapons that were used, the ongoing assault, that it wasn’t just a mob action. Now, we don’t have all the information yet, so we’re still gathering it. But what’s clear is that around the world, there’s still a lot of threats out there. That’s why we have to maintain the strongest military in the world, that’s why we can’t let down our guard when it comes to the intelligence work that we do and staying on top of — not just al Qaeda, the traditional al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan..."
September 25, President Obama to United Nations: “A crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world…”
OBAMA: "That is what we saw play out in the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. Now, I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity. ... And on this we must agree: There is no speech that justifies mindless violence. There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There's no video that justifies an attack on an embassy."