Senior Romney campaign foreign policy advisor Dan Senor continued to press the unsubstantiated narrative that the White House deliberately misled the public on last month’s attack in Libya. In an interview aired this morning on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Senor claimed that the Obama administration purposefully put forward a false story to explain the September attack on a diplomatic outpost in the city of Benghazi:
HOST STEVE INSKEEP: Would an attack like that not happened if Mitt Romney were President?
SENOR: Oh look, there’s — some folks have tried to assert that. We’re simply saying there were security requests for additional security resources; they appear to have been denied. There were a series of misleading statements after the incident claiming that the result – in response to a YouTube video, a spontaneous mob that turned into a terrorist attack. Those we now know aren’t true and yet the administration stuck to those explanations. Those other failures around the region we certainly believe could be addressed by a Romney administration.
Senor’s answer fits into the predominant narrative, that the administration continued to push the video as the cause after it knew otherwise. But in reality, from the beginning the Obama administration has avoided definitively pronouncing a cause for the assault that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Senor was specifically referring to the statements from U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice during Sept. 16 interviews on the Sunday talk shows. Rice said at that time that based on available information, the Benghazi attackers highjacked a protest against an anti-Muslim film as cover for the assault and that an investigation was on-going. Rice has since then said, “What you get Day 1, Day 2, Day 14 isn’t the whole story.”
Following Rice’s initial statements, the administration candidly put forward its new thinking, based on evidence as it was acquired. In a Sept. 28 statement, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, as coordinator of the seventeen Federal intelligence offices, said the intelligence community “revised [their] initial assessment to reflect new information.”
In testimony before the House Government and Oversight Committee on October 11th, Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy elaborated on the shift from the time of Rice’s statements to current administration position. “If any administration official, including any career official, were on television on Sunday, September 16th, they would have said what Ambassador Rice said. As time went on, additional information became available,” Kennedy said. “Clearly, we know more today than we did on the Sunday after the attack.”
Senor’s statement also refers to denied requests for additional security at Benghazi. The requests in question were actually intended for the Embassy in Tripoli — 400 miles away — and would have made little difference during the September attack.
Stevens’ father said this week that “[i]t would really be abhorrent to make this into a campaign issue.” Apparently the Romney campaign is not taking that advice.