State Dept. pushed back on White House’s Libya claims
October 15, 2012
The Department of State is pushing back against top White House aides who have tried to blame it for not doing enough to defend the facility in Benghazi, Libya, prior to the Sept. 11 jihad attack.
On Friday, the department released an Oct. 9 background press briefing, during which a State Department official contradicted the White House's claim about the video.
The move is unusual, because the transcripts of most background briefings are not released - especially if they involve a direct disagreement between the department and the White House.
The contradiction came late in the briefing, when a reporter asked the State Department official to explain "what in all of these [Benghazi] events ... led officials to believe for the first several days that this was prompted by protests against the video?"
"That is a question that you would have to ask others. That was not our conclusion," responded the official.
"The Ambassador walked guests out around 8:30 or so, there was no one on the street at approximately 9:40, then there was the noise and then we saw on the cameras the - a large number of armed men assaulting the compound."
The press event was held the day prior to a House hearing, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, that showed how State Department officials actually reduced security measures at the Benghazi facility, despite increasing threats from nearby jihadi groups.
During the hearing, senior State Department officials tried to blame intelligence agencies when they were asked why they denied multiple requests for extra security of diplomatic facilities in Libya.
Their focus on the intelligence agencies diverted blame away from senior officials - such as Clinton or White House officials.