White House spokesman Jay Carney just held a press briefing that was equal parts absurd and horrifying. Even as American embassies are mobbed by radicals, and our flags are torched and replaced with Islamist banners, Carney continued to repeat — almost as if he were trying to convince himself — that the riots are purely a reaction to a low-budget anti-Islam Youtube film. Nothing to do with the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Nothing to do with anti-American sentiment. Nothing to do with support for al-Qaeda or Islamic terrorism.

“Let’s be clear: these protests were in reaction to a video that had spread to the region,” said Carney. “We have no information to suggest that it was a preplanned attack.”

“The unrest we’ve seen around the region has been in reaction to a video that many Muslims find offensive,” added Carney. “It is not a response to 9/11.”

And it continued on like that for the rest of the briefing:

“The unrest around the region has been in response to the video.”

“What we have seen is unrest around the region in response to a video that Muslims find offensive.”

“We are working to ensure that our diplomatic personnel and our diplomatic facilities are secure as we deal with the response to this video, which we believe is offensive and disgusting.”

“The cause of the unrest was a video. And that continues today, as you know, as we anticipated. And it may continue for some time.”

“The reason why there’s unrest is because of the film. This is in response to the film… this is not a film that the United States government had anything to do with. We reject its message and its contents we find it both reprehensible.”

“My point was simply that we are responding to and coping with and dealing with…unrest brought about by this offensive video.”

“The unrest we’ve seen is a reaction to a film with which the U.S. government has had no involvement, which we’ve denounced as offensive. As I said yesterday, it can be difficult to see in some countries why the U.S. can’t simply eliminate this expression…but as you know…it’s one of our fundamental principles.”

“We find the video reprehensible and disgusting…This video has nothing to do, has nothing to do with the American government. It has nothing to do with who we are or what we believe.”

Even if the video fueled the protests, how did a low-budget Youtube film that nobody had heard of before last week get dubbed into Arabic and distributed around Muslim countries? The answer is fanatical Islamist leaders who used the film to incite outrage on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

And if you believe the video was the sole drive behind the protests, then why were U.S. flags replaced with the flags of al-Qaeda? Why were terrorists groups reportedly involved in organizing the protests weeks in advance — before the film even came to light?

The Obama administration does not want to talk about terrorism, because it wants to pretend it defeated terrorism by killing Osama bin Laden. They don’t want to mention al-Qaeda, unless of course it’s in the context of a drone our military dropped on one of its leaders. But as the embassy attacks illustrate, the Islamic terror threat has not disappeared. It hasn’t been vanquished by the lofty speeches of a Nobel Peace Prize-winning president, or eradicated by his policy of covert assassinations. The fact that the White House hasn’t seemed to grasp this is what made today’s briefing so tone-deaf, and so startling.

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