White House clarifies Biden on Libya security
October 12th, 2012
03:10 PM ET
2 years ago

White House clarifies Biden on Libya security

Louisville, Kentucky (CNN) - Aides to President Barack Obama on Friday attempted to clean up comments made by Vice President Joe Biden regarding security requests in Libya during Thursday night's vice presidential debate.

When asked about the security of U.S. diplomats in Libya prior to the attack in Benghazi, Biden said "We weren't told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again."

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Those comments contradict Congressional testimony by State Department officials who told the House Oversight Committee requests for security staffing in Libya were made and denied prior to the attacks in Benghazi.

But officials said the "we" to which Biden was referring includes himself, the president and the White House but not the rest of the administration.

Answering questions at the White House Friday, Press Secretary Jay Carney said the vice president "was speaking directly for himself and for the president, he meant the White House."

Carney continued, "No one who testified about this matter suggested that request(s) for additional security were made to the president or the White House."

If it sounds like he's suggesting the buck stops at the State Department in Foggy Bottom, White House aides say not exactly.

A senior White House official, speaking anonymously, told CNN they recognize the president is responsible for the security of all U.S. personnel around the world. But their intent here is to make clear that the vice president was not misspeaking when he said that he and the president were not personally briefed on the security requests.

The senior White House official also argued that while there were specific requests for additional security in Tripoli, there were none in Benghazi. The aide challenged Rep. Paul Ryan for suggesting Marines should have been protecting the ambassador, insisting Marines are never dispatched to protect diplomatic staff. As for security requests: one State Department official testified that there was an inquiry for more security in Benghazi but was not clear about how high it went.

Mitt Romney was quick to leap on the comments. During a speech in Virginia Friday he told a crowd the vice president is "doubling down on denial and we need to understand exactly what happened, as opposed to having people brush this aside. "

"American citizens have a right to know just what's going on and we're going to find and out and this is the time to make sure we do find out," he added.

A White House official also defended UN Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, saying that her comments describing what instigated the attack that killed four Americans will ultimately hold up.

The official said the intelligence community still believes the perpetrators were inspired to act after seeing a facility breached in Cairo. And insisted they're now determining whether that prompted them to launch a previously never before considered assault, or whether the perpetrators saw an opening to put into action a plan of attack that had been sitting on the shelf. Either way, the official insists, the U.S. had no forewarning of the attack.

Rice has been roundly criticized for appearing on multiple Sunday morning talk shows following the deaths and blaming the attacks on the frenzy from protests over the now well known video critical of Islam. She described the assault as "a spontaneous reaction."

The official added the Obama administration did not have a threat stream related to the consulate in Benghazi and the intelligence community has not established that there was a premeditated plan to attack the location on September 11th.


Filed under: Foreign Policy • Joe Biden
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Borderless

    Didn't the Obamakins decide that "clarify" means "flip flop"? Anyway, he didn't flip flop. Racist Joe just straight up lied.

    October 12, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  2. WyomingBound

    Rice should resign for lieing to the UN and the American people. Give the seal's mom the autopsy and details of her sons death – she deserves that much after all the lies this administration has told. Obama and Hillary C should apologize to the American people for the lies they told us as a country thinking we would believe them instead of what the rest of the world already knew was a terrorist attakc. And to the Biden who acts like a child – he's 100 yrs old and still can't talk for himself.

    October 12, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  3. Borderless

    Here's what really happened. Requests were made for more security. The requests were denied and the Obama administration was complicit in denying the additional security. The attack happened and the Obama administration hoped to paint it as a freak incident, a response to a video instead of a planned attack which was the reason for the request for more security. They found they couldn't cover up what really happened and that's when things got complicated.
    The Obama administration lied to the American people, lied to the international community, refused to take responsibility for Ambassador Stevens' death and the death of the brave men protecting him, and they did this all because Obama wants to have another four years of fail.
    This November we have a moral obligation to replace this narcissistic, heartless, unethical sociopath. Vote Romney/Ryan. It's just the right thing to do.

    October 12, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  4. vic , nashville ,tn

    Beirut April 18 1983 A suicide bomber killed 17 Americans
    Beirut October 23 1983 A suicide bomber killed 241 U.S. Marines were killed
    Dec 12 1983 U.S.Embassy in Kuwait was attacked
    ………………………………….
    Still Reagan is hero

    October 12, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  5. anoel2005

    we had Watergate........and no one died in the Watergate incident.

    Now we have Benghazi-gate , 4 Americans died, and they're trying to cover their lies with more lies

    October 12, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  6. Woman In California

    Mitt Romney was quick to leap on the comments.

    -------

    Give it a break Willard. The whole world saw last night just how dangerous and unprepared you and your thirsty sidekick are. You can bet the American people will never let you make any foreign policy decisions, so on behalf of my children and unborn grandchildren may you ROT off the face of the earth.

    October 12, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  7. Denny

    When I heard Biden lie on the very first question of the debate I was wondering if he really understood that the whole nation was watching. He contradicted testimony that had been given under oath hours earlier in the congressional hearings. Way to go Joe. You really are a joker.

    October 12, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  8. Nick

    No way I'll go for the Obama camp after Biden lied – yes, he lied – and not just once. The Benghazi incident was pronounced as a terrorist attack within 24 hours; the security issue was well-known per Congressional testimony; and he voted for intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan despite saying he voted against both wars. Added to Obama's whoppers and their loss of over a billion taxpayer dollars in "green" projects (plus $26 billion we'll never see from GM) why would anyone want these guys for another 4 years?

    October 12, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    That's just more of the same from Obama..........EVERYTHING, is always SOMEONE ELSE'S fault!

    October 12, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  10. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    If Biden had made a complete statement during the debate, it would have gone something like this: "We didn't know that more security was requested because no request made it up to the White House from the Department of State." You should only act on what you know. Romney jumped the gun and blamed the White House before all the facts were know, and we still don't know what they are because the FBI isn't done yet.

    October 12, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  11. Millie

    The truth will set you free, a lie will hold you captive. They know they handled the incident with carelessness . Now the widows and children of the soldiers and the embassador will pay the price. How do they rest and go on with their lies. Just another day for the politicians in Washington, the life of the victims will never be the same, that is such a shame. Pray for our country , bring our boys home. This was such a senseless lost. They left them behind to be slaughtered.

    October 12, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  12. HOLY TIGHTY WHITIES WILLARD

    @borderless

    It seems so convenient for you republicans to criticize lack of security when republican members of Congress voted AGAINST more security for our embassies when Secretary of State Clinton asked for it. But you know how the slogan goes, IOKIYAR.

    October 12, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  13. Denny

    When Biden said that our intelligence shows that Iran is not close to having nuclear weapons – what makes him think that we should believe the "intelligence community" when he stated clearly that they didn't know what was going on in Benghazi?

    October 12, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  14. HunterPSU

    Always someone else is at fault in the b.o. whitehouse..."we" did not know ...it was "dangerous" in Libya...they are supposed to be our "friends" and no more terrorist are alive since we got bin laden......omg are we in trouble.

    October 12, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  15. No Tax Returns No Vote

    @Borderless: didn;t you used to be myviewis or truth hurts. You are not only borderless you are a borderline!!!!!

    October 12, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  16. anoel2005

    If the Obama ppl misspoke on day 1, they should have said that and continued on day 2 with the truth ( it was a terrorist attack).

    Instead, it's weeks later and they are still lying. We need a change in leadership before our country is ruined for another 4 years by a bunch of incompetent , lying Socialists. They are Pathetic.

    October 12, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  17. LocalVokal

    We still have troops dying in Iraq over real lies that were told about WMD's. Where was all of this outrage about that? Why not let the investigation play out?

    October 12, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "Here's what really happened."

    All you do is highlight the entire problem with the GOP/Teatrolls: they make up their minds before they have the facts and then, to the extent that the facts end up contradicting their pre-determined narrative, they then launch a counter-assault on those facts in order to defend their pre-determined narrative. The reason you ahve no credibility on the issue is because we all know that no matter what the investigation reveals, you'll stick to the story you fabricated before you had the facts. Enjoy your echo chamber.

    October 12, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  19. Lisa P

    "American citizens have a right to know just what's going on and we're going to find and out and this is the time to make sure we do find out," he added.
    ----------------------------
    Oh come on! If Mitt Romney really wanted American citizens to know what went on he would be pointing them to the BBC's excellent coverage instead of repeating the lies and misrepresentations put out by Fox News. The truth is not Mitt's friend and cannot be twisted to serve his cause.

    October 12, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  20. rrd

    HOLY TIGHTY WHITIES WILLARD

    @borderless

    It seems so convenient for you republicans to criticize lack of security when republican members of Congress voted AGAINST more security for our embassies when Secretary of State Clinton asked for it. But you know how the slogan goes, IOKIYAR.

    -------------------------------------------–

    This isn't even close to the truth. Congress has nothing to do with the security details at the embassy's.

    October 12, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    "He contradicted testimony that had been given under oath hours earlier "

    No he didn't. Mittens and Ryan and the rest of the Teatroll army are trying to accuse Biden and Obama of failing to act on knowledge they personally held. If they were not informed by their subordinates of a request for more security, then the accusations from Mittens and Ryan are untrue. What's ridiculous here is the idea that every single request, be it for more security or other things, automatically ends up on the presidents and/or VP's desks. They don't. Not even remotely, but the MSM will refuse to discuss that fact in order to fuel this controversy. If a subordinate failed to honor the request and is found to have been negligent in doing so based ont he information then known at the time, then he or she should be fired, clearly, but without direct evidence that Obama or Biden personally knew of the request, Mittens and the Teatrolls' attacks are entirely inaccurate.

    October 12, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  22. Brad

    The White House continues to lie and cover-up, even when this is all unraveling. They LIED about Libya, they LIED about the video, Biden LIED last night, and Carney LIED this morning.

    A wise man once said that it is best to just always tell the truth, because it is too difficult to keep track of which lies you tell to whom.

    October 12, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  23. Lisa P

    Denny

    When Biden said that our intelligence shows that Iran is not close to having nuclear weapons – what makes him think that we should believe the "intelligence community" when he stated clearly that they didn't know what was going on in Benghazi?
    October 12, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Assets. We have them in Iran; we haven't fully developed them yet in Libya. Apparently intelligence was relying on electronic communications monitoring in Libya, which doesn't work so well if conspirators are communicating by other means. Or if it was just a big angry armed mob, and not a conspiracy at all. I suspect all options are still open at this point. Sadly, Ambassador Stevens might have also been the best person to have figured out who killed him - he apparently had excellent connections with the many militia groups. I would still love to know what set that riot off, and if Stevens was really a target or just an unintended victim.

    October 12, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  24. Marc

    Dems Have no clue they are brain washed by the press. The press should be ashamed of themselves, they cover for Obama and I'm sure he is laughing at you behind your backs. Puppets

    October 12, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  25. GI Joe

    Romney didn't know either. But he sure is making hay isn't he. Kinda like he didn't know what Bain did while he was stll CEO and owner (before he retired retroactively). Romney is the biggest liar I've seen in my near 70 years.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    October 12, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
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