Republicans and right-wing commentators are calling President Obama a liar for his accurate claim during the debate that he referred to Benghazi as an act of terror. After a question from the audience about the attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission there last month that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, Obama said that he referred to it as an “act of terror” in his statement in the Rose Garden the very next day.
The following statement, from towards the end of his Sept. 12 remarks, substantiates Obama’s claim:
OBAMA: No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.
The screenshot from the White House website makes the context of Obama’s remarks clear:
Governor Mitt Romney questioned whether Obama was telling the truth, saying it took him two weeks to refer to the Libya attacks as terrorism. But moderator Candy Crowley then rebuked Romney. “He did call it an act of terror,” she said.
Now that Romney was caught passing false information, the right wing is trying to provide cover, claiming that Obama was speaking more generally about terror, or the September 11, 2001 attacks, in his remarks, and it seems like it has taken hold as their new talking point. Following that debate, several commentators attacked Crowley for her interjection and claimed, still, that Obama was lying. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus after the debate said, “I will say, though, that tonight, point-blank, the president lied to the American people about Libya. I think the moderator may have helped that along as well.”
Fox News’s Host Chris Wallace during a post-debate panel dismissed the idea that President Obama was speaking about Benghazi when he used the phrase “act of terror” in his Rose Garden statement. “All he said was ‘no acts of terror will shake the resolve of this great nation’, and did not refer specifically to [Benghazi] at all.”
In an interview with CNN, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal repeated similar claims, saying “[Obama] used act of terror, generally, didn’t identify it specifically.”
The conservative narrative maintains that it took two weeks for the President to call the attack in Benghazi terrorism. But, in addition to the Rose Garden comments, the story is further debunked by comments given at an Obama campaign rally in Denver on Sept. 13, where he also spoke about Libya:
OBAMA: So what I want all of you to know is that we are going to bring those who killed our fellow Americans to justice. I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished. It will not dim the light of the values that we proudly present to the rest of the world. No act of violence shakes the resolve of the United States of America.