The Romney campaign has been hard at work attempting to blame President Obama for the terrorist attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Lead foreign policy adviser Rich Williamson claimed the attack wouldn’t have happened in a Romney administration and Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan chalked it up to the “broader problem” of the current administration “projecting weakness.”
But at least one prominent Republican would object to the GOP’s efforts to politicize terrorism and his name is Gov. Mitt Romney.
During a 2004 National Press Club luncheon, Romney was asked to address the 9/11 Commission’s finding of serious intelligence failures on the part of the US government in the run-up to the attacks. He responded that it is easy, but ultimately not particularly helpful, to blame different parts of the government for the attack:
It’s very easy, it is extraordinarily easy to point fingers and say, ‘Why, this part of government knew this and it didn’t tell that part.’ And, ‘These people here haven’t learned that.’ Well, the reason those barriers exist is for legitimate purpose in a world that was pre-September 11th. And judging our intelligence by post- September 11th conditions is something we have to do carefully. We do that to help us get better, and to the extent we find criticism in the kind of work that I’ve had to do and others are doing, it should be focused on how we can make ourselves more effective in the post-9/11 world. But trying to judge what happened pre-9/11 by post-9/11 knowledge is probably not terribly fruitful.
Romney’s approach was consistent with then-President Bush’s, who when asked whether he should apologize for his administration’s failure to prevent 9/11, said simply “The person responsible for the attacks was Osama bin Laden.” Former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice told the 9/11 Commission something similar, saying “I know that there was no single thing that might have prevented that attack…I believe that the absence of light, so to speak, on what was going on inside the country, the inability to connect the dots, was really structural.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, by contrast, took a more concrete approach to accountability this Monday, saying “I take responsibility [for Benghazi]. I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts.”