White House clarifies Biden on Libya security
October 12th, 2012
03:10 PM ET
10 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."

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

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. Lisa P

    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
    And you think that Mitt Romney, once in office, would be any different? Would share every scrap of information that comes over his desk? Would take full responsibility for the thoughts, words and actions of every Federal employee or contractor, as well as all his campaign donors and everyone he or his dad or his granddad ever met? If so, you certainly are naive. Mitt Romney won't even stand behind the things he said last week; but then I'm sure that if he were President your unrealistic expectations would change even faster than his promises do.

    October 12, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  2. WyomingBound

    Romney wasn't the POTUS that we voted into office. We the People hired Obama and he lied to us. Obama lied about EVERYTHING in the Benghazi attack. And now there's video of dragging our amb. through the street. I can not believe that we as a people can not call it like we see it – our President lied to us and was followed up by Biden, H Clinton, and Amb Rice. Nope Obama lost my vote.

    October 12, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  3. Saddened

    So sad that we have become so heartless that we can't focus on the lives that were lost instead of using a horrible tragedy as a baseball bat. They requested a jet and were told to charter a plane if it became necessary????

    It was probably a little too late to call for a plane when the terrorists were at the door. All that were involved, all that are pointing in all directions to cast blame have blood on their hands and no amount of pointing in other directions can wash it away.

    October 12, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. Obama 2012!

    at least Obama campaign explain themself when there are confusion and misunderstanding they don’t flat out denies or not even bother to answer the "American People" i mean really isn’t the choice clear at this time who need to vote for?

    October 12, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  5. Newt Gingrich

    FACT: The family of one of the slain ex-Navy Seals agents guarding the embassy told Mormon Bishop Mittens to stop using their name and son's story for POLITICAL GAIN.

    FACT: In the 47% video, Mormon Bishop Mittens stated he was HOPING for something like the Bengazhi incident to happen.

    FACT: The GOP – including Paul Ryan – cut embassy security spending by 300 MILLION less than what Obama had requested.

    FACT: Arabs in the MIDDLE EAST were rioting against the Christian Taliban video leading up to the event in Benghazi. The embassy in Egypt was breached. The intelligence community had not indications the attack in Benghazi was a terrorism attack.

    FACT: Mormon Bishop Mittens jumped the gun on his press conference before even knowing the facts – including the deaths of the 4 Americans.

    FACT: There is a chain of command. If there was a request, it never made it to the White House.

    FACT: Only a marine unit could have protected the embassy. No US Embassy has marine protection.

    FACT: Mormon Bishop Mittens does not care about what happened in Libya.

    October 12, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  6. Obama 2012!

    Obama never lied!!!! You know who the liar is in this election but you want to ignore that since you blindly want to vote for Republican which at this point i can only say i don’t know why? I don’t know why you will vote for Romney if you are not rich. Because even though you sit here and defending him he won’t care about you, he never had and he never will. So if you want to make your life difficult by electing a selfish person who only care about his corporate and his corporate buddies then no one can stop you. I just hope there are enough smart people out there and vote for the man who is in the white house at the moment.

    October 12, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  7. Newt Gingrich

    If Mormon Bishop Mittens was so great as Governor, why isn't he contesting Massachusetts? – Joe Biden

    October 12, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. California Gary

    While it is terrible that we lost those brave souls, how about a dose of reality before trying to blame thier deaths on Obama? If anyone knew of the risk in going there, it was these people. They were the ones on the scene and the experts in the region. They must have felt what they went there for was important enough to assume the risk. They knew how much security they had, and didn't have, and went anyway. They could have made the decision not to go there unless and until they had better security arranged, but they went anyway. Instead of trying to assign blame for political purposes, we can't we just mourn those that perished and honor their courage and service to our country. Romney and Ryan need to "zip it" on this issue.

    October 12, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  9. Lisa P


    Romney wasn't the POTUS that we voted into office. We the People hired Obama and he lied to us. Obama lied about EVERYTHING in the Benghazi attack. And now there's video of dragging our amb. through the street. I can not believe that we as a people can not call it like we see it – our President lied to us and was followed up by Biden, H Clinton, and Amb Rice. Nope Obama lost my vote.
    October 12, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm
    A lie is showing a picture of the people who saved our Ambassador from the smoke filled consulate building and took him to the hospital and claiming that they are an angry mob beating him to death (or worse). The full video is out there. People we praising God when the Ambassador was found in the building alive.

    I'm not going to call you a liar because you didn't know, and only repeated the things you were told by people you thought you could trust - people who should have known, and should have told the truth. You should extend the same courtesy to our President. No one is perfect, as much as Mitt Romney likes to pretend to be.

    October 12, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
1 2