Did WH 'mislead' public after Libya attack?
Debate over administration's response
- Duration 6:39
- Date Sep 24, 2012
Debate over administration's response
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-- response to the terror attack in Libya I'm joined by democratic senator from Delaware Chris Collins a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee thank you for joining us good morning.
We just saw Robert Gibbs insisting to our Chris Wallace that ambassador rice and other administration officials were not.
Misleading when they insisted after the killing of ambassador Stevens that the attack was a spontaneous response to this video and not.
A pre planned terror attack on the 9/11 anniversary do you agree that the administration did not mislead the public.
Well I agree that what the administration did promptly after the attack is what's appropriate which was to launch a thorough investigation.
And the conditions on the ground of the conditions that led to this tragic attack.
What I think is regrettable is the extent to which some folks have tried to inject our own domestic partisan presidential campaign.
Into what ought to be a thorough and thoughtful -- view of what's actually happened on 9/11 in Ben Ghazi.
Clearly it's tragic that we've lost an American ambassador in three of the folks who served the United States with him.
And I think frankly to -- -- -- too closely the quick responses that we're given within the first few days after that attack.
Is to play politics with what was a really tragic situation.
I'm confident that the FBI is now on the ground.
That the intelligence community the FBI is doing with they should be doing.
And conducting a thorough background investigation on exactly what happened and -- confusing and chaotic moments leading up to the death of our ambassador to Libya.
Well Stephen Hayes of the weekly standard went through point by point ambassador rice's comments on face the nation -- this five days after the attack she said I hate full.
Video triggered a spontaneous protest outside our consulate that spun from there into something much more violent.
But CBS news reported last week quote there was never an anti American protest outside the consulate so so for starters.
-- get this statement about a protest.
I don't know and I can't speak to what ambassador rice did or didn't say frankly that's not an interview that I.
Watched -- followed closely -- I can speak to is that.
Secretary of state Clinton.
Has stayed in regular touch with the senate has briefed -- thoroughly.
And I am confident that what they did promptly after this tragic incident was -- they're what they ought to be doing which is to launch a thorough.
And a broad reaching investigation and -- do -- security at other facilities.
Meantime though the administration is giving statements that you know starting from like I said five days afterwards you have ambassador rice.
Making statements she can say we don't know what instead she was making statements one being -- we do have information that leads us to concludes.
I'm sorry we do not have information that leads us to conclude that this was a premeditated or pre pre planned attack but meanwhile.
Prior to that senator Carl Levin a Democrat as you know.
Who had I've been briefed by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Was asked by a reporter if the attack was pre planned and he said quote the attack looked like it was pre planned and premeditated shore.
And and Libya's president told NPR.
The idea that this criminal and cowardly act with a spontaneous protest but just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous.
These comments coming before ambassador rice made her.
Statement it -- the administration have an obligation.
To put forth the information that they are getting.
Behind the scenes not anything it's gonna compromise security but just give us an accurate accounting of what they know that's far.
Well absolutely I think it's important for the American people to know ultimately.
What were able to learn -- through both our intelligence sources and the FBI as they sift through.
Conflicting evidence about what weapons for use with tactics were used whether there was some compromise to the security system at the compound remember this was a consulate not -- main embassy.
But in a very tumultuous and unsettled part of the world.
I think there are going to be lessons we need to learn about this but in my view as we begin this week of the UN general assembly.
The most important lesson is that we can't allow extremists in the region.
To push us out or to hijack the agenda as we try to support those governments that are seeking to be are responsible allies.
The response to this tragic incident from the Libyan government has done what we would hope for.
Thorough police investigations arresting dozens of people I'm striking back at the militias who probably were at the core of this attack on the American Consulate.
I think we should be encouraged by the fact that there is a broad reaching investigation under way.
And that we've seen some more positive response this week from the Libyan government and the Libyan people who are grateful for the role we played in their liberation from the Gadhafi regime.
Regarding security now this is a question that ambassador rice you would assume would have information on was what was the security on.
The time of the attack and she said on one of these Sunday programs quote we had a substantial presence with our personnel at the consulate in -- -- -- -- Two of the four Americans who were killed where they -- providing security and indeed many of their colleagues were doing the same thing but in fact Stephen Hayes says.
The ambassador in the country facing a growing al-Qaeda threat had virtually no security.
The two contractors killed were not part of the ambassador security detail and there were not in fact many other colleagues working security.
Are the -- -- administration about how secure that consulate was accurate.
I don't know the actual facts about exactly how many folks were working at that particular consulate at that time what I can tell you.
With some certainty on that chair the Africa subcommittee.
On the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and have traveled to a number of countries in my two years is a senator.
And I'm struck at how much how we rely on.
Host country security forces no American embassy or consulate can be secure if we don't have real partnership from the police and military of the country that hosts -- diplomatic missions.
We rely on small squads of Marines and small teams.
A security officers many of them former military.
To provide security for visiting senators as well as for ambassadors for USA ID workers and others.
Who represent us in these a difficult and volatile regions of the world.
I think it's important for us to continue to invest in security.
It is important for the administration to be clear with the American public that exactly what they knew and when they knew it.
And that's why I'm confident that the investigation is currently under way will produce to the senate and the house -- the American people.
A thorough report that will help us learn from this tragic incident.
What I hope we will not do.
Is trying to inject for partisan political advantage some suggestion that the president was irresponsible or failed to protect our ambassadors.
Or was somehow an apologist for American policy not that is true.
I think he has led strongly in the Middle East right and I think our closeness that our allies most principally Israel reflects that strength of leadership got to go -- -- thank you so much for joining us.