The Benghazi Report and Parents of Children With Mental Illness: Today's Qs for O's WH, 12/20/12

TAPPER: Has the president read the Accountability Review Board report?

CARNEY: I don't know. I haven't - I know he has been briefed on it. I don't know if he's read it word for word, but he's a voracious reader, so he may have.

TAPPPER: The - I believe one person has resigned and three have been - stepped down from their current duties but are still State Department employees. There might - there might have been an update for that since I last read about that. Is that sufficient for the president? Is that - is that enough accountability from the Accountability Review Board?

CARNEY: I think by every measure, the report has been assessed to be - to have been sharply critical and very blunt and clear-eyed about both problems that exist, problems that need to be fixed and the need for accountability, and actions are - already have been taken, as you just - as you just noted.

TAPPER: I'm not questioning the report. I'm -

CARNEY: Well, again, I think -

TAPPER: I'm wondering: is that enough?

CARNEY: I think independent experts here, Admiral Mullen and Ambassador Pickering, oversaw a - Accountability Review Board which I think everyone is judging to have been quite - and the recommendations that they have made are being adopted in full, and there has already been, in this very short period of time, actions that demonstrate accountability is being upheld.

I don't - I mean I haven't had a discussion with the president, but I think he is both appreciative of Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen for the service they provided to the nation here, for the depth that they delved into in this report and the seriousness of the recommendations, the speed with which they acted; and, you know, he intends to make sure that the administration, as the secretary of state has said, begins implementation of all of these recommendations before the next secretary of state takes office.

Some of this has to do - some of it will have to do with working with Congress to ensure that Congress provides the necessary funds to allow for enhanced security at our diplomatic missions around the world. So there is obviously more action that needs to be taken, but this is a very serious report and the president has indicated that he expects it to be implemented fully.

TAPPER: Again, I'm not disparaging the report. I'm just wondering if -

(Cross talk.)

CARNEY: Again, I think - I don't have another answer for you. Four people have already, in one way or another, been held accountable, fairly senior people, so -

TAPPER: Is that sufficient for the president? That's the only question.

CARNEY: I believe the president believes that the recommendations and the actions taken have been the right ones.

TAPPER: O.K., one other thing I wanted to ask about the mental health ramifications following Sandy Hook, and that is there have been some interesting personal stories in the media about parents - a lot of them single parents, but not exclusively - struggling with children who are mentally ill, some of them violently so, most of them not, who do not have enough help from society. They fall through some holes, some cracks in the system. I'm just wondering if the president has seen any of these, have read any of the - of the essays that have been written, and caught any of them on television, because it's been - it's actually been - it's been remarkable to hear, because normally you don't hear stories like this.

CARNEY: Well, I haven't had that discussion with him. He is someone who reads widely, and it would surprise me if he hasn't read or seen some of the reports that you're talking about, probably more likely to have read rather than seen, with all due respect to the broadcast media.

But the fact is that he believes very strongly that mental health is one of the major areas that needs to be addressed as we take a kind of comprehensive approach to this problem. It's why - setting aside the issue of gun violence - but the issue of mental health in general is extremely important to - in the president's view, to our - what our overall approach to health care in this country ought to be, which is why, as you know, he made sure that the health care law that he passed with Congress will ensure 30 million more Americans have access to mental health services, and that will also - makes recommended mental health services available without a co-pay or a deductible - again, part of the effort here to make it clear that issues of mental health are as important, both for the individual and for the society, as issues of physical health.

So - but as it relates to the gun violence there is no question that this is something that needs more exploration and likely more action, which is why the president has taken the action that he has.

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