The Attack on Benghazi and the Hatch Act - Today's Q's for O's WH - 9/19/2012
TAPPER: In the wake of the attacks in Benghazi, the Pentagon and the State Department both made statements they then had to correct, the Pentagon involving whether or not there were Marines at the embassy in Tripoli - there were not - and the State Department regarding the presence of security firms at the Benghazi compound. Why was there such confusion? And is the White House or anyone conducting any sort of internal investigation into what went wrong?
CARNEY: Well, there is an ongoing investigation into what happened in Benghazi that's being led by the FBI. And -
TAPPER: Not that one. I'm not talking about the criminal act. I'm talking about the - obviously, there wasn't adequate security, that - along the lines of what went wrong and what the administration could have done better.
CARNEY: I think I would refer you, for questions about security at the Benghazi diplomatic facility and broadly speaking at diplomatic facilities - consulates, embassies - around the world, to the State Department. In terms of the statements that were corrected by Defense of State, I would refer you to those departments.
You know, from our perspective, we got out to you the information that we had as soon as we had it and it was available. And our assessment of what happened has been based on the best available information that we've had.
There is an ongoing investigation, led by the FBI, now going back to specifically happened in Benghazi, and we await the results of that investigation for more information about the protests and the attacks and what precipitated them and who participated in them, with the primary objective here of fulfilling the president's commitment that those people responsible for the deaths of four Americans be brought to justice.
TAPPER: What reason could there be? Or let me - let me rephrase that, who made the decision that there should not be in Marines in - at our diplomatic posts in Libya? More than half of our diplomatic posts have Marines. I understand they're not there to protect people; they're there to protect classified data. But it doesn't hurt to have them there. Who make that decision?
CARNEY: Well, I think security at diplomatic facilities is overseen by and run by the State Department. So I'd refer you to them about how decisions are made and what the allocation of resources was in Benghazi and elsewhere. I think they're the best people to answer that question.
TAPPER: Is the president concerned that there was a failure by someone in the administration to ensure adequate security measures, whether through -
CARNEY: The president is concerned that violent actions were taken that lead to the deaths of four Americans. You can be sure that he's concerned about that. And he is absolutely concerned that we take the necessary measures to make sure that those who killed Americans are brought to justice. And he has been focused from the beginning on ensuring that adequate security reinforcements be brought to bear at embassies and consulates and diplomatic facilities where that's deemed necessary. Again, there's an investigation - a broad investigation into what happened and how and why in Benghazi. And we have - will await the results.
TAPPER: Is that about the perpetrators of the violence?
CARNEY: Well, I think it encompasses everything that happened - I mean, I'm sure that they will look at everything that happened there. I mean, I would refer you to the FBI for details. But look - I mean, Jake, I think what happened in -
TAPPER: It was the anniversary of 9/11, an unstable country with roving bands of individuals who are armed, a government that says it itself cannot provide security; it's not ready to do so yet.
And it would just seem not that complicated to discern that there need to be some sort - serious security effort there to protect our diplomats.
CARNEY: Jake, I appreciate the question, and I understand it. And I - and I can simply say that there is an active investigation into what happened in Benghazi that led to the killing of four Americans. And the president has taken action to make sure that we have reinforced security at facilities as deemed necessary and is very focused on ensuring that we bring to justice those who killed Americans abroad. But I appreciate your question, and I think that, you know, we are awaiting the results of the FBI investigation.
TAPPER: OK. On one other subject, did the president have any response to the Office of Special Counsel report on Secretary Sebelius violating the Hatch Act?
CARNEY: I have not spoken to him about it. I think that Secretary Sebelius has responded to that and made sure that what was an - you know, her remarks were extemporaneous. The Health and Human Services Department has since reclassified the event to meet the correct standard. The U.S. Treasury has been reimbursed. And Secretary Sebelius has met with ethics experts to ensure that this never happens again. The error was immediately acknowledged by the secretary and promptly corrected, and no taxpayer dollars were misused.
TAPPER: Is it safe to assume that as far as the president's concerned, that's the end of the matter?
CARNEY: Well, I think it's safe to assume that action has been taken by the secretary and the department to remedy what was, you know, the result of an inadvertent error based on extemporaneous remarks. And she acknowledged it immediately, promptly corrected it and ensured that no taxpayer dollars were used and that the event - the department reclassified the event to make sure that the correct standards were met.
TAPPER: Thank you.