This was easily the most disturbing moment of the entire debate — so much so that media outlets like the Washington Post and BuzzFeed immediately published rebuttals to Joe Biden’s claim at the end of the debate. When Martha Raddatz opened the event by talking about Libya, Paul Ryan hammered the Obama administration for not heeding the calls for better security in an area where everyone knew that al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist terror networks had grown significantly since Obama and NATO decapitated the Qaddafi regime. Biden’s defense? Claim ignorance:
During the vice presidential debate Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden said the administration “did not know” that personnel working at the American embassy in Libya had requested more security before the deadly attack on Sept. 11.
As Biden was discussing the attack, Martha Raddatz, the debate moderator, cut in.
“And they wanted more security there,” Raddatz said.
“But we weren’t told they wanted more security there,” Biden responded. “We did not know they wanted more security there.”
That assertion runs counter to evidence and testimonies that were presented at aHouse Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday, where the committee released five memos requesting additional security, and witnesses from the State Department confirmed that those requests had been denied.
Glenn Kessler objected as well:
But this was contradicted by State Department officials just this week, in testimony before a congressional panel and in unclassified cables released by a congressional committee. “All of us at post were in sync that we wanted these resources,” said Eric Nordstrom, the top regional security officer in Libya earlier this year. A Utah national guardsman who led a security team, Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, said: “We felt great frustration that those requests were ignored or just never met.”
Just taking Biden at his word, we’d have to believe that (a) the State Department had no special concern over personnel in eastern Libya, where the weak central government can’t even deploy a police force, (b) the White House was unaware that al-Qaeda had expanded its operations in the region, and (c) no one remembered that the anniversary of 9/11 was approaching. That’s a shocking level of incompetence to confess on national TV. Small wonder that CNN’s tracking group considered this Joe Biden’s lowest point of the debate.
Furthermore, one has to wonder how the intelligence community will react to Biden’s bus-tossing them during the debate, too:
Vice President Biden blamed intelligence officials for the administration’s changing account of the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, during Thursday night’s debate with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
The Obama administration has been under fire for initially linking the attack on the U.S. Consulate to an anti-Islam video made in the U.S. before later acknowledging that that the attack was an act of terrorism, not a protest that turned violent.
Biden said the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, was repeating what intelligence sources had told her when she blamed the video as a “proximate cause” of the violence in an interview five days after the attack.
“The intelligence community told us that,” Biden said. “As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment.”
Then why did the White House designate it a terrorist attack within the first 24 hours while insisting publicly that it was a “spontaneous protest” that “spun out of control”?
Update: Via Daniel Halper, CBS News’ Jan Crawford reported that Biden “may have some clean up of his own to do today on Libya”:
Yes, I think this one’s going to stick.
Update II: Good Lord:
Vice President Joseph Biden speaks only for himself and President Barack Obama, and neither man was aware that U.S. officials in Libya had asked the State Department for more security before the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, a top White House official told The Cable.
Biden has come under fire for saying at Thursday night’s debate, “We weren’t told they wanted more security. We did not know they wanted more security there.”
The Cable asked Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications Ben Rhodes whether Biden was speaking for the entire Obama administration, including the State Department, which acknowledged receiving multiple requests for more Libya security in the months before the attacks. Rhodes said that Biden speaks only for himself and the president and neither of them knew about the requests at the time.
So … it’s official that no one at the White House had a clue what was happening in a mess Obama helped create in eastern Libya? Words fail me.