President Barack Obama responded to Mitt Romney's charge that the White
House mishandled its response to the embassy attacks in Egypt and Libya by
accusing his challenger of having a tendency to "shoot first and aim later."
"There's a broader lesson to be learned here: Governor Romney seems to
have a tendency to shoot first and aim later, and as president, one of the
things I've learned is you can't do that," Obama said in an interview with
CBS News on Wednesday. "It's important for you to make sure that the
statements that you make are backed up by the facts and that you've thought
through the ramifications before you make them."
When asked if he found Romney's statement "irresponsible," Obama
responded, "I'll let the American people judge that."
The Republican presidential nominee has
faced significant backlash for targeting the president for a public
statement, made by the U.S. embassy in Cairo, that did not come directly
from his administration. The statement was made by the embassy prior to an
Egyptian demonstration in reaction to an anti-Islamic video. Other officials
have accused Romney of prematurely politicizing an episode that took the
lives of four diplomatic officials, including U.S. ambassador to Libya
Romney released his first statement on Libya and Egypt Tuesday night, in
which he called the president's handling of the situation "disgraceful." He
reiterated that criticism in a press conference Wednesday, stating, "The
president takes responsibility not just for the words that come from his
mouth but also from the words of his ambassadors, from his administration,
from his embassies, from his State Department."
"They clearly sent mixed messages to the world," Romney said. "The
statement that came from the administration -- and the embassy is the
administration -- the statement that came from the administration was a
statement which is akin to apology. And I think was a severe
Obama delivered his own statement on the crisis in Libya on Wednesday, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by his side, but chose not to engage with Romney during his speech. He instead focused on the incident and lives lost, while making it clear that those responsible would be brought to justice.
"We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,"
Obama said, "But there is no justification for this kind of violence. None."
UPDATE: 6:19 p.m. -- While aboard Air Force One on
Wednesday evening, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney read more quotes
from a transcript of Obama's "CBS News" interview, which makes up one
portion of a larger package in this Sunday's edition of "60 Minutes."
From the pool report:
"I think most Americans, Democrats or Republicans, understand that there are times when we set politics aside, and one of those is when we've got a direct threat to American personnel who are overseas," President Obama said.
"And so I think that if you look at how most Republicans have reacted, most elected officials, they've reacted responsibly, waiting to find out the facts before they talk, making sure that our No. 1 priority is the safety and security of American personnel."
"It appears that Gov. Romney didn't have his facts right. The situation in Cairo was one in which an embassy that is being threatened by major protests releases a press release saying that the film that had disturbed so many Muslims around the world wasn't representative of what Americans believe about Islam."
"In an effort to cool the situation down, it didn't come from me, it didn't come from Secretary Clinton, it came from people on the ground who are potentially in danger. And my tendency is to cut folks a little bit of slack when they're in that circumstance, rather than try to question their judgment from the comfort of a campaign office," Obama said.
"I do have to say that, more broadly, we believe in the First Amendment. It is one of the hallmarks of our Constitution that I am sworn to uphold, so we're always going to uphold the rights of individuals to speak their minds. On the other hand, this film is not representative of who we are, and our values, and I think it is important for us to communicate that. That's never an excuse for violence against Americans, which is why my No. 1 priority and my initial statement focused on making sure that not only are Americans safe, but that we go after anyone that would attack Americans."
Obama said the U.S. will "remain vigilant," and that "even as we apply pressure on al Qaeda and other elements that are affiliated in big chunks of the world, such as North Africa and the Mideast, we've got a lot of dangerous characters, and we've got to make sure we're continuing to apply pressure on them. And that's something I'm determined to do."
09/13/2012 04:37 PM CDT
Pentagon Deploys Security Team to Libya
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2012 - Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has authorized deployment of a Marine Corps fleet anti-terrorism security team to Libya to protect U.S. citizens there and to secure the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said here today.
During a Pentagon news conference, Little said Panetta strongly condemns the recent attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in the Middle East.
"The secretary extends his deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and to the entire State Department family," Little said. "The department has been working with the White House and State Department to provide resources to support the security of U.S. personnel and facilities in Libya."
Little said the Defense Department supported the evacuation of American personnel and casualties out of Libya and is supporting the repatriation of the remains of the four State Department personnel, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who were killed in the attack late Tuesday on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey also have worked over the past 48 hours with combatant commanders throughout the region to conduct reviews of their force postures, he said. They also are working "to ensure that we have the flexibility to respond to requests for assistance or orders as directed by the president of the United States," he added.
Little said the focus of the Defense Department is now on supporting whole-of-government efforts to provide security to American personnel in Libya and elsewhere, working closely with the State Department, "and then supporting any efforts that we may be called upon to assist in the effort to, as the president said, 'deliver justice.'"
"The FBI and Department of Justice have opened an investigation into this tragic event," Little said. "Obviously, we will cooperate fully if called upon to support their investigation.
"Rest assured that this department is going to work very closely with our interagency partners to help investigate [and], if we're called upon, to assist," he continued. "And we will play our part in getting to the root of what happened."
Obama Directs Security Boost at U.S. Diplomatic Posts
Attack in Libya Should Shock World's Conscience, Clinton Says
Official Details Benghazi Attack, Vows to Support Libya
09/12/2012 11:23 AM CDT
Attack in Libya Should Shock World's Conscience, Clinton Says
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2012 - The attack in Benghazi, Libya, that resulted in the deaths of four Americans should "shock the conscience of people of all faiths around the world," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said here today.
U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and Sean Smith, a Foreign Service information officer and Air Force veteran, were killed in the attack. The State Department is withholding the identities of the other Americans, pending next-of-kin notification.
"All over the world every day, America's diplomats and development experts risk their lives in the service of our country and our values because they believe that the United States must be a force for peace and progress in the world," Clinton said. "Alongside our men and women in uniform, they represent the best traditions of a bold and generous nation."
Stevens risked his life to stop former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and then gave his life trying to help in building a better Libya, Clinton said.
"The world needs more Chris Stephenses," she added.
Although this happened in a country the United States helped to liberate and in a city it helped to save from destruction, Clinton said Americans must remain "clear-eyed, even in our grief."
"This was an attack by a small and savage group, not the people or government of Libya," she added. Libyans stood and fought to protect Americans during the attack, and Libyans carried Stevens' body to the hospital, Clinton noted.
The United States will not waver in its mission in Libya, the secretary pledged.
"The mission that drew Chris and Sean and their colleagues to Libya is both noble and necessary," she said. "A free and stable Libya is still in America's interest and security, and we will not turn our back on that."
Clinton said the United States is working closely with Libyan authorities to bring those responsible for the attacks to justice.
"Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protests that took place at our embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet," Clinton said, referring to a video that is purported to blaspheme Islam.
"Let me be clear, there is no justification for this," she said. "Violence like this is no way to honor religion or faith. And as long as there are those who would take innocent life in the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace."
Clinton noted that the attack took place as Americans observed the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
"It's an anniversary that means a great deal to all Americans," she said. "Every year on that day, we are reminded that our work is not yet finished -- that the job of putting an end to violent extremism and building a safe and stable world continues."
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Report: Hillary Ignored Warnings
Yesterday, we reported that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was responsible under the law for the “security policies and programs that provide for the protection of all US government personnel … on official duty abroad.” Clinton herself seemed bewildered by the attacks on the Libyan consulate, asking, “How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction?”
But according to the Independent, she had no reason to be puzzled. Quoting senior diplomatic sources, the paper reports, “the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted.” Nonetheless, “no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and ‘lockdown,’ under which movement is severely restricted.”
It gets worse. According to security sources, the State Department had greenlit a “health check” at the consulate I preparation for 9/11. Nonetheless, the attackers broke the perimeter within 15 minutes of the Libyan mob forming. Local guards did nothing. One witness reported, “The security people just all ran away and the people in charge were the young men with guns and bombs.” According to sources, the Ambassador died from smoke inhalation after he was trapped in a building set on fire and besieged by rioters.
The Libyan government, for all its supposed regret, seems less than troubled by the whole incident. Wissam Buhmeid, who commands the Tripoli government-sanctioned Shield Brigade, which operates as police in Benghazi, stated, “There were definitely people from the security forces who let the attack happen because they were themselves offended by the film; they would absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate. The deaths are all nothing compared to insulting the Prophet.”
Why wasn’t there better protection at the consulate? Because that’s the way Secretary of State Clinton wanted it; the State Department posted no Marines to the consulate. It was staffed instead by those Libyan “security” forces. The consulate also had “no bulletproof glass, reinforced doors or other features common to embassies.”
Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, “I am asking my colleagues on the committee to immediately investigate what role al-Qa’ida or its affiliates may have played in the attack and to take appropriate action.”
The story isn’t over in Libya. Violence continues. And classified documents have been stolen from the consulate, reportedly including the names of Libyans working with the Americans. Safe houses across Libya are now unsafe.
Secretary of State Clinton is responsible for the security of our staff, consulates, and embassies abroad. If the Independent’s report is correct, she has violated the most basic standard of duty. Both she and her boss, President Obama, must be held responsible.
Big-Peace/ 2012/ 09/ 13/ Obama-Hillary-ignored-warnings-Libyan-embassy