Remember this clip from President Obama’s “60 Minutes” interview on September 12, where Obama seems to agree the Benghazi attack was more than just a spontaneous demonstration? CBS released it on October 19, and has used it to support the president’s claim that he called the attack “terrorism” from day one.
But, as Bret Baier reports, that wasn’t the whole interview. CBS has just released new footage of Obama declining to call the attack terrorism when pressed, saying it’s “it’s too early to tell”:
KROFT: Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism in connection with the Libya Attack, do you believe that this was a terrorism attack?
OBAMA: Well it’s too early to tell exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans. And we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice, one way or the other.
Read Baier’s full analysis above, which gets into why this is so critical for the Benghazi timeline. In short, it’s a clear refutation of Candy Crowley, the White House, Obama’s comments during the debate, and the whole hopelessly spin-able “but he said it in the Rose Garden speech!” media. This interview was conducted immediately after Obama’s Rose Garden address. If the president had actually intended to call Benghazi a terrorist attack in the speech, he should have corrected Kroft when Kroft said “This morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism in connection with the Libya Attack.”
But he didn’t. In fact, when asked straight-up if he believed the attack was terrorism, Obama pointedly declined to use the t-word, saying “it’s too early to tell exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans.” He also called the attackers “folks,” which isn’t typically how you refer to terrorists.
Obama’s “acts of terror” comments in the Rose Garden were exactly what they sounded like — weasel-words designed to give the White House cover on whatever narrative it chose to put out. He couldn’t answer Kroft’s question unequivocally, because at that point the White House was trying to avoid calling it a terrorist attack.
Why did CBS wait until two days before the election to release this? Why didn’t they release it immediately after the debate, since it contradicted a major point of contention? So far, no word from the network other than this non-response response (via Politico): “We’re proud of our Benghazi coverage, which from Libya to Washington has been the most comprehensive original reporting of any network.”