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Romney Campaign Presses Obama on Benghazi

While the Obama campaign spent the day giggling over “binders full of women,” Paul Ryan made the rounds on the news networks, questioning the White House’s handling of the terrorist attack in Benghazi last month:

“It was a passing comment about acts of terror in general, it was not a claim that this was a result of a terrorist attack,” Ryan said on ABC’s “Good Morning America. “Nobody believed at that Rose Garden speech that the president was suggesting that particular attack was an act of terror.” …

Ryan doubled down in three separate appearances on broadcast morning shows, saying, “What’s troubling about this Benghazi attack is that it took two weeks for the administration to get their story straight.”

Ryan went over the timeline distributed by the Romney campaign that documents statements by the White House and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for two weeks following the incident, where it was called spontaneous and the violence was blamed on an anti-Islam YouTube video.

The administration has since acknowledged it was a terrorist attack.

While Obama insisted last night that he called Benghazi an “act of terror” in his Rose Garden speech on Sept. 12 — a claim that isn’t clear from the speech transcript — he reportedly acknowledged later that he avoided specifically calling it a terrorist attack for two weeks because of concerns over intelligence. Kerry Ladka, the audience member who asked Obama the question about Benghazi security, told WaPo’s Erik Wemple that the president spoke with him more candidly about the post-attack narrative after the debate:

President Obama, though, wasn’t done with Kerry Ladka. “After the debate, the president came over to me and spent about two minutes with me privately,” says the 61-year-old Ladka, who works at Global Telecom Supply in Mineola, N.Y. According to Ladka, Obama gave him ”more information about why he delayed calling the attack a terorist attack.” For background, Obama did apparently lump Benghazi into a reference to “acts of terror” in a Sept. 12 Rose Garden address. However, he spent about two weeks holding off on using the full “terrorist” designation. The rationale for the delay, Obama explained to Ladka, was to make sure that the “intelligence he was acting on was real intelligence and not disinformation,” recalls Ladka.

As to Ladka’s question about who turned down the Benghazi security requests and why, Obama reportedly told him that “releasing the individual names of anyone in the State Department would really put them at risk,” Ladka says.

So, Obama had enough evidence to call it an “act of terror” within 24 hours, but not enough evidence to call it a “terrorist attack” for two weeks? Serious question here — does the Obama administration consider a “terrorist attack” and an “act of terror” the same thing? Given the president’s weirdness on this issue — how he dodged any direct questions about whether it was a terrorist attack for weeks — maybe he doesn’t. Or maybe the White House is playing a game of semantics to buy itself cover on both sides. Either way, the president has a lot more to answer to.


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