In the wake of the U.S. Catholic Bishops having come out with a statement saying that Vice President Biden lied about Obamacare violating Catholic religious freedom during the debate last week, BCI takes a break from Catholicism for a moment to respond to something we just saw in the Town Hall meeting between President Obama and Mitt Romney.
Obama said he had referred to the Benghazi assault as an “act of terror” in the Rose Garden the day after the assault. The moderator claimed Obama was correct and agreed with him. That is not really the fact at all. Commentary summarized this well:
Obama said during the speech that “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation” — but at no point was it clear that he was using that term to describe the attack in Benghazi. He’d also spent the previous two paragraphs discussing the 9/11 attacks and the aftermath. “Acts of terror” could have just as easily been a reference to that. Or maybe it wasn’t a direct reference to anything, just a generic, reassuring line he’d added into a speech which did take place, after all, the day after the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
From the White House, here is what Obama said:
…Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi…
Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks. We mourned with the families who were lost on that day. I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed. And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi.
As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it. Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.
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.
“If Obama wanted to call the Benghazi assault a terrorist attack in that speech, he had plenty of opportunities to do so. Instead, he described it as a “terrible act,” a “brutal” act, “senseless violence,” and called the attackers “killers,” not terrorists. It’s also important to consider the context. For a week after this speech, the White House would not call it a terrorist attack. The official position was that Libya was a spontaneous response to an anti-Islam film, not a premeditated or preplanned act.
Some may wonder why it even matters. Maybe Obama really was referring to Benghazi as an “act of terror” in the speech, and he just failed to make that clear enough — so what?
Actually, this is much more than an issue of semantics. Calling it a terrorist attack would have given Obama powers under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF) to use military action, including drone warfare, against the perpetrators. If he were serious about “bring[ing] to justice the killers,” which he vowed to do in the speech, then labeling this incident a terrorist attack (if he believed that’s what it was) would have been critical.
It seems to BCI that “No acts of terror..” (note plural “acts”) following his comments that commemorated American deaths in “9/11″ and “Iraq and Afghanistan” is a general reference to any act of terror. In contrast, when he describes “…this terrible act,” he is referring to the Benghazi assault, which he did not specifically describe as a “terrorist act.” We all know that UN Ambassador Susan Rice also made the rounds of Sunday morning news/talk shows 5 days after the assault and said the assault has apparently come from the spontaneous protest against the anti-Islam video. National Review reminds us that, “According to U.S. law, acts of terrorism are premeditated. The Obama administration’s line for days following Obama’s Rose Garden statement suggested that the attack wasn’t premeditated.”
Though technically Obama did use the words, “acts of terror” in the Rose Garden speech, he did not say the Libya act was an act of terrorism. If the White House and President Obama wanted to tell the U.S. that the assault was an “act of terror,” why did they not actually do that for nearly two weeks after the assault?
The mainstream media will probably distort this, or will not report this. We wonder if the Romney campaign is sharp enough to get the facts out.