What Happened In Benghazi — Today’s Q’s for O’s WH — 10/10/12

Oct 10, 2012 3:04pm

TAPPER: Lieutenant Colonel Wood and Eric Nordstrom, the former regional security officer, have both suggested that there were efforts from the U.S. embassy in Libya to have more security, and the State Department — State Department officials wouldn’t let it happen. Why? Why didn’t the State Department listen to these men on the ground in Libya who wanted there to be more security?

CARNEY: Jake, as I said, there is no question that the result of what happened in Benghazi is not acceptable. Four Americans killed is not an acceptable situation, and that is why the president moved so quickly to ensure that an investigation was launched to bring the perpetrators to justice, the killers to justice, and a review was launched at the State Department to look at our security posture at the Bengali — I mean, not Bengali — at the Benghazi facility and elsewhere.

You know, those matters are under investigation. They are also being discussed in a public hearing on Capitol Hill today by the individuals and officials, both career and otherwise, who know the specifics of that. What I can tell you is what the president’s interest is in. He is very interested in bringing the perpetrators to justice and ensuring that we find out what happened, why it happened and taking steps to ensure that it never happens again.

TAPPER: Well, it’s been roughly a month. You have absolutely no idea why it happened? You don’t know why the State Department — (inaudible)?

CARNEY: Well, I think — I think, as we’re hearing on Capitol Hill today, we have learned a great deal as this investigation has progressed, and we have been very clear about what we have known at different stages of this process over the last several weeks and what we have yet to learn and the fact that at each stage, the investigation continues, and more facts may be developed that change our understanding of what happened. State Department officials are on Capitol Hill today being very clear about what we know now based on the several weeks of investigation that have taken place. They are also making clear that the investigation continues and that the Accountability Review Board that is looking into the issues of diplomatic security is continuing its work. You know, I’m not prepared to preview the results of an investigation that — or a review that have — that are not yet complete or to second-guess what the experts in the field are going to conclude.

TAPPER: President Obama shortly after the attacks told “60 Minutes” that regarding Romney’s response to the attack, specifically in Egypt, the president said that Romney has a tendency to shoot first and aim later. Given the fact that so much was made out of the video that apparently had absolutely nothing to do with the attack on Benghazi, that there wasn’t even a protest outside the Benghazi post, didn’t President Obama shoot first and aim later?

CARNEY: First of all, Jake, I think your assessment about what we know now is not complete. But I would simply say that –

TAPPER: What part are you talking — because I’m just going by what the State Department said yesterday, what –

CARNEY: There is no question that in the region, including in Cairo, there were demonstrations reacting to the –

TAPPER: I’m talking about Benghazi –

CARNEY: — the release of that video. And I will leave it to those who are testifying on the Hill to talk about, as they are –

TAPPER: The State Department said yesterday there was no protests.

CARNEY: That — that’s not what you said, though. You — there were — there were –

TAPPER: I’m talking about in Benghazi.

CARNEY: Right.

TAPPER: I’m not –

CARNEY: I’m not disputing that there was a protest. But what we said at the time is our intelligence community assessed that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo. OK?

Again, this is a moving picture, and people who on the night of an attack or the day after claim they know all the facts without making clear that what we know is based on preliminary information aren’t being straight, and they’re in some cases trying to politicize a situation that should not be politicized. I think that’s what the president was getting at. And I think many other people felt the same way.

This president’s focus has been from day one on going after those who killed four Americans, on protecting the thousands of diplomatic personnel we have around the world and those facilities that they work in, and on making sure that a thorough investigation is conducted to find out what happened and look — that looks into our security posture both in Benghazi and elsewhere.

TAPPER: I’d have to go back and read the transcript, but I remember both President Obama and Secretary Clinton talking about the video in the remarks in the ceremony when Ambassador Stevens’ remains were returned to this country. Maybe I have — maybe I’m remembering that wrong, but it seems to me there was a lot of talk about the videos in relation to the tragedy that unfolded.

CARNEY: I don’t have anything new for you about what the assessments are of how the attack came about, what the role of protests and demonstrations in other parts of the region were. I will point you to those who are testifying on Capitol Hill about this very matter as we speak.

TAPPER: Can I — can I just ask one last question? I know Democrats have talked about budgets being cut for embassy security. And I’m wondering if that’s something that the White House believes was a problem as well, that there was — there had something to do with money being withheld by House Republicans or whomever.

CARNEY: Well, I — look, this is — the issue of the security specifically in Benghazi, more broadly in Libya and more broadly than that in the region and around the world, is under review by the Accountability Review Board. And those assessments should be made by those who are investigating it. What is simply a matter of fact is that this president has fought for and put forward funding that he believes is necessary for our diplomatic personnel and diplomatic security around the world. And others have sought to reduce that funding over these past several years because of a — of an approach to our budget priorities that prioritizes tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. That’s just a fact; I am not making an assessment based on this incident. There is no question that what happened in Benghazi was a tragedy, and it was — that there was not a — you know, security enough to protect those four Americans.

-Jake Tapper

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