President Obama today rebuffed as "nonsense" the insinuation by Sen. John McCain and other Republicans that the administration had engaged in a "cover-up" of botched security planning and response at the American consulate in Benghazi surrounding the attack on Sept. 11.
"Any allegations of cover-up are nonsense, and I've said so repeatedly," Obama told anchor Ron Steele of local TV affiliate KWWL of Waterloo, Iowa, in an interview .
"Look, these are our people that we send into harm's way. There's an investigation being done as we speak, and not only will we find out exactly what happened, but we will bring to justice those who carried out this attack," he said.
McCain has been harshly critical of the administration's security procedures and crisis response in Benghazi, telling "Face the Nation" on Oct. 28, "I don't know if it's either a cover-up or the worst kind of incompetence."
Obama has said he will hold accountable any member of the administration who "didn't do their job" before, during or after the Benghazi attack. But he says he will await completion of the investigation before passing judgment.
White House officials have said Obama is not - at this stage - actively engaged in or receiving updates on the internal review, but that he expects a "rigorous" summary of the findings at a later date.
The president, who has repeatedly faced questions about the Benghazi attacks in local media interviews, sought to cast the incident as an unfortunate aberration in a region where he has worked to restore "America's respect and resolve."
"The broader story is that in Libya as is true in many other parts of the world, America has stood by democracy, stood by the aspirations of the people of Libya, and that's why when this attack happened you saw tens of thousands of people on the streets of Libya who are claiming that America is our friend," he said.
"And that's the kind of leadership that Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was tragically killed, was all about. And that's what our administration has been all about. We'll find out exactly what happened and we will bring those who carried this attack out to justice. But that should not detract from the fact that four years after I took office America's respect and resolve around the world is unquestioned and that's a big step forward."