At a Monday morning joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, President Barack Obama dismissed the White House Benghazi talking points controversy as “a sideshow” and accused his detractors of engaging in a “political circus.”
The Associated Press asked the president to comment on the brouhaha over the fact that the talking points, prepared by the CIA, were later sanitized at least a dozen time by the White House.
“The day after it [Benghazi] happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism,” he began.
“The whole issue of talking point, frankly, throughout this process, has been a sideshow.”
He later claimed that he was shocked by his political detractors’ claim that his administration would downplay the Benghazi terrorist attack because it happened in the latter days of his 2012 reelection bid.
“So if this was some effort on our part to try to downplay what had happened or tamp it down, that would be a pretty odd thing that three days later we end up putting out all the information that, in fact, has now served as the basis for everybody recognizing that this was a terrorist attack and that it may have included elements that were planned by extremists inside of Libya,” he said.
He closed by accusing his opponents of creating hyperbole purely for political gain.
“And the fact that this keeps on getting churned out, frankly, has a lot to do with political motivations,” he said.
“We dishonor [State Department employees] when we, you know, we turn things like this into a political circus.
Actually, President Obama has been the one who has politicized the Benghazi raid from the start, beginning with his Sept. 12 Rose Garden speech. ABC News reported that the president referred to the event as coming out of a protest to a YouTube video.
“Since our founding the United States has been a nation that accepts all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” the president said.
Later, in the same address, the president spoke of terror only in a general sense. “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation.”
This was the beginning of an almost 8-month process of politicizing Benghazi, beginning with this speech, then sanitizing the CIA timeline of events into a pablum for the American public, then finally stonewalling efforts to obtain any raw data to the point of withholding even the names of witnesses.
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