President Obama defended his handling of the deadly terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, rejecting the notion that his administration was “confused” in the wake of the assault.
“We weren’t confused about the fact that four Americans had been killed,” Obama told Jon Stewart in a taped appearance Thursday on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” according to pool reports. “I wasn’t confused about the fact that we needed to ramp up diplomatic security around the world right after it happened. I wasn’t confused about the fact that we had to investigate exactly what happened so it gets fixed. And I wasn’t confused about the fact that we were going to hunt down whoever did it and bring them to justice.”
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has accused Obama of not being straightforward with the American people about the attack and failing to provide adequate security.
“Every piece of information that we get, as we got it, we laid it out to the American people,” Obama said. “The picture eventually gets fully filled in.”
Stewart pressed the president repeatedly on his administration’s changing accounts of what led to the attack, suggesting the response was not “optimal.”
“If four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal,” Obama said. “We’re going to fix it. All of it. And what happens during the course of a presidency is that the government is a big operation and, any given time, something screws up. And you make sure that you find out what’s broken and you fix it.
“Whatever else I have done throughout the course of my presidency, the one thing that I’ve been absolutely clear about is that America’s security comes [first],” Obama said. “And the American people need to know exactly how I make decisions when it comes to war, peace, security and protecting Americans. And they will continue to get that over the next four years of my presidency.”