Is Libya terrorist attack 'debacle' hurting Obama?
The White House and the Obama campaign are under fire for the administration's handling of the terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the US ambassador and three other embassy personnel. The Romney campaign is attacking Obama on the issue.
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Meanwhile, critics are calling the Libya attack and the way it was handled by the administration a “debacle” – as columnists David Brooks of the New York Times and Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post both did Friday.Skip to next paragraph
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Not surprisingly, the Romney campaign is weighing in strongly as well.
"They keep changing their story," Ryan said at a campaign stop in Ohio Friday. "This is not what leadership looks like.”
"The vice president directly contradicted the sworn testimony of State Department officials," Romney said in Virginia. "He's doubling down on denial. And we need to understand exactly what happened as opposed to just have people brush this aside. When the vice president of the United States directly contradicts the testimony, sworn testimony of State Department officials, American citizens have a right to know just what's going on. And we're going to find out."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has promised a thorough investigation. In the Democrat-controlled Senate, Sens. Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins, chairman and senior Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, announced their own investigation Friday.
“We intend to examine the circumstances before, during, and after the attack, including threat awareness, U.S. security needs for diplomatic personnel in Benghazi and Libya, and communications among the intelligence community, the State Department, the Defense Department, and the White House,” Lieberman and Collins said in a joint statement.
The politics of all of this is obvious.
The House committee hearing at which the State Department officials testified about security in Benghazi, led by Rep. Darrell Issa, who chairs the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had a highly-partisan tone.
“I have grave concerns about the way [Wednesday’s] hearing devolved into a disorganized, partisan, and absurd spectacle when it should have been a serious and responsible investigation of the attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans,” Rep. Cummings wrote to Issa.
As the attack in Benghazi was underway last month, Romney made what many analysts – including many Republicans – found to be snap and intemperate comments in the middle of a diplomatic crisis. The Obama campaign – including Biden in his debate Thursday night – tried to make the same charge regarding Romney’s more recent comments about the administration’s response to the attack.
That is unlikely to stick, given the revelations – and the way the administration has handled them – over the past month.
Romney has changed his campaign emphasis on the controversy in one way, reports the Associated Press.
At the request of the mother of a former Navy SEAL killed in Libya along with Ambassador Stevens, Romney has agreed to stop talking about her son during his political campaign.
IN PICTURES: Libya's critical transition