Romney Was Right to Demand Truth on Libya, Benghazigate

Romney was right to demand the truth from President Obama on Libya and Benghazigate last night in the second Presidential Debate. After Obama’s performance about being offended at the very idea that he would play politics with the tragedy,  or the result of a spontaneous protest over a YouTube video.

He didn’t get clarity. Neither did we.

What we got was the moderator making a terrible call by butting in to support Obama’s claim that he said the words “act of terror” in the Rose Garden the day after the attack in Libya. As if that were even relevant. Ms. Crowley now admits that Romney was right in the main, but just — in her opinion — used the wrong word:

No, Ms. Crowley. Governor Romney didn’t use the wrong word. It was the President who used the wrong words. Romney was simply trying to call him on it when you stepped in. Ms. Crowley herself raised the same question Romney did back on Sept. 28 as to why it took so long for the Obama Administration to conclude it was a terrorist attack.

Words have meaning. Talking in general terms about our nation not liking acts of terror (which in the manner used by the President could be holding up a 7-11 convenience store) is not the same as saying that a US Ambassador died because terrorist organizations deliberately attacked our consulate and killed him and three others. That was Romney’s point. And it continues to be the issue.

Read for yourself (from the official White House transcript) his Rose Garden comments in which he clearly points blame toward the YouTube video before speaking in broad terms against “acts of terror” six paragraphs later:

Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths.  We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.  But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence.  None.  The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts. [emphasis mine]

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done.

And there is no question by any sane person with eyes and ears that the entire Obama Administration blamed the attack on the YouTube video for the next two weeks. The President himself implied as much in the text of his speech before the United Nations:

I know that not all countries in this body share this understanding of the protection of free speech. Yet in 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete. The question, then, is how we respond. And on this we must agree: there is no speech that justifies mindless violence.

There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy. [emphasis mine]

He apparently forget to mention his early conclusion to UN Ambassador Susan Rice who several days later made these planned comments:

“We are obviously investigating this very closely. The FBI has a lead in this  investigation,” Rice said Sept. 16 on “Fox News Sunday.” “The information, the  best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was  not a preplanned, premeditated attack. That what happened initially was that it  was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence  of the video. People gathered outside the embassy and then it grew very violent  and those with extremist ties joined the fray and came with heavy weapons, which  unfortunately are quite common in post-revolutionary Libya and that then spun  out of control.

“But we don’t see at this point signs this was a coordinated plan,  premeditated attack. Obviously, we will wait for the results of the  investigation and we don’t want to jump to conclusions before then. But I do  think it’s important for the American people to know our best current  assessment.” [emphasis mine]

There’s no walking this one back. The President had the chance to admit his mistake. Instead he doubled down on dumb. But words have meaning.

The options are these:

  1. When Obama said “acts of terror” in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, he meant “terrorist attack” but then proceeded to intentionally misled the American people by blaming a YouTube video — for political purposes.
  2. When Obama said last night that he had from the very next day called it an act of terror, implying that he had never viewed it as anything but that, he intentionally misled the American people — for political purposes.

Either way, the end result is that Obama and his Administration intentionally misled the American people, either then or now. Romney rightly sensed the blatant discrepancy about Libya and Benghazigate and called him on it.

Obama is now trying to rewrite two embarrassing weeks of his presidency and hope no one notices. Thanks to Governor Romney’s insistence — and even to some extent Ms. Crowley’s ill-advised interruption — his misleading words will get plenty of air-time between now and the next debate which just happens to focus on foreign policy.

Words have meaning. Truth still matters.

Let’s hope so, anyways.

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About Bill Blankschaen

Bill Blankschaen is a writer, author, and speaker who empowers people to live an authentic life with abundant faith. A former pastor, Christian school leader, and master teacher, he is the founder of FaithWalkers ( where he equips Christians to live an authentic life and a blogger on faith and cultural issues at Patheos and He is the author of several books including A Story Worth Telling: Your Field Guide to Living an Authentic Life, What God Wants You to Do Next, The Secret to Explosive Personal Growth, and multiple collaborative books including his latest with co-author Erick Erickson — You Will Be Made to Care: The War on Faith, Family, and Your Freedom to Believe (Regnery, February 22, 2016).
In addition to his own writing and speaking, Bill helps other people and organizations tell their own story in effective ways. He comes alongside authors as a collaborative writer, handcrafts engaging materials as a content creator, and creates an effective brand strategy as a platform developer with his team of creatives and digital technicians. (

  • Jay Saldana

    Bill, how can you, argue “words have meaning” and then conversely argue for an interpretation that is not explicitly expressed in those very same words? (Your man blew it by getting greedy) Secondly, why should anyone pay attention to what you say about international relations and state department functions when it is obvious you are as ignorant as the rest of us on the necessities of international relations, and state department administrative functions. I can, at least, as a former operative in the Marine Corps (Force Recon) tell you, you are out of your depth when it comes to intelligence and how it arrives on the desks of principals. Please do not let your handlers in the conservative movement send you talking points that make you sound foolish. You won’t last at this rate and I rather enjoy arguing with you. By the way, I will conceded that the advantage seems to be to Romney and that he will be elected as it currently stands.
    Have a God Filled day,

    • John I.

      How, or in what ways, is his interpretation not one that is explicitly expressed in those very same words? He is pointing out that the words themselves are ambiguous, but that the entire scope of the ambiguity (i.e., however one determines the proper referents) is a deliberate misleading.

  • Elizabeth K.

    Yes, one can still hope. I’m hoping.

  • Jennifer

    Six paragraphs later… During which time the President paid tribute to a wonderful man. What a shame that finger pointing mere hours after this tragedy is seen as more important.

    As Chris’ step- brother so eloquently put it:
    “Chris Stevens lived a life, pursued a career dedicated to the ideals of liberty and friendship among peoples. He arrived wherever he went with his hand open, ready to meet his next friend. And he might be in the same room with an Israeli and a Palestinian, and each one of them would feel he had been heard.

    It was magic, really.

    We need peacemakers like Chris Stevens. And so in the tragedy and the sadness of his loss I take some solace in the fact that, because of this dreadful occurrence, his work has become all the more clearly known around the world. And think of the harvest of good will and friendship and, yes, love, which was the result of his encounters with all the Libyans — resulting in an outpouring of, of grief, regret, condolences, and also messages not just to my personal family but to all of us Americans from the Libyans, who said: “This is not us, we are against this.”

    So we all need to find ways to emulate what Chris did, and make peace – to wage peace, and not war. ”

    I will pray for this.

    p.s. words DO have meaning, Bill. Perhaps you should consider that the “embassy” you emphasized referred to the U.S. embassies in Tripoli and in Cairo that were attacked by mobs angered by the video – and not to the CONSULATE in Benghazi. The subject of the paragraph you partially quoted was about various examples of violence and unrest in the area. It was placed in the context of the point of President Obama’s speech about needing to look at the deeper causes of this crisis if we are to uphold our ideals.

    • Bill Blankschaen


      I might buy the embassy interpretaion except that our UN Ambassador used the word embassy to refer to the Libyan consulate, as well, as she described it as a random act of violence inspired by a video. No one — and I mean no one on right or left — questions that the President and His adminsitration clearly communciated that what happened in Libya happened because of a spontaneous response to a video for two weeks ater the fact when there was no evidence to support that claim and ample evidence otherwise.

      Thanks and you are right about the kind words regarding Ambassador Stevens. In my mind, that makes the absence of security and the cover-up all that more tragic.

      • Jennifer

        It is interesting to me that Mitt Romney stopped talking about this issue. I know that he was granted access to classified national security briefings and I am wondering what he learned.

        • Bill Blankschaen


          A valid point. I suspect his reason for dropping the issue personally was that it would backfire for him politically. Better to have others press the charges. Had he done it, it would have been perceived as a purely political partisan issue.

          But a keen insight nonetheless.