Senior White House advisor Robert Gibbs appeared on Fox News with Chris Wallace Sunday to discuss the state of the presidential race, President Obama’s decision to go on talk shows instead of meeting with world leaders, and the unrest that is sweeping the Middle East and parts of Europe.
One of the main topics of discussion was the manner in which the White House handled the wave of attacks on U.S. outposts in the Middle East on September 11– particularly in Libya, where a frenzied mob killed American Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others.
For days, the White House maintained that the attack was based entirely on a little-watched YouTube video that denigrates the Prophet Muhammad as a pedophile and a buffoon.
“[This] is not a case of protests directed at the United States… or at U.S. policy, but it is in response to video that is offensive to Muslims,” White House Press Sec. Jay Carney said several days after the attack. He added: “The unrest we’ve seen is in reaction to a film in which the United States government had no involvement.”
We now know, however, that the attacks were planned in advance and were not “spontaneous” as U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and others insisted.
Still, Gibbs told Chris Wallace that the administration did not “intentionally or unintentionally” mislead the American people.
Watch the interview, below:
“Why did Ambassador Rice give the American people bad information?” Wallace asked Gibbs after playing a clip of Rice insisting the attacks were spontaneous.
Gibbs insisted Ambassdor Rice relayed the best information that was available at the time, adding that no one wants to get to the “bottom” of the issue more than the administration.
“But I specifically, last Sunday, asked Ambassador Rice about the president of Libya, who was then saying it was pre-planned. I specifically asked her about Al-Qaeda, who said it was revenge…Miss Rice didn’t say, ‘We don’t know, we’ll get back to you.’ She said it was a spontaneous attack that was not pre-planned, that spun out of control. She had information at that time, and the information she gave the American people was wrong,” Wallace countered.
When Gibbs said the most important issue is to determine how to keep our embassies as safe as possible– adding that Paul Ryan’s budget would cut diplomatic security– Wallace noted that the administration demanded defense cuts as well.
“Specific question,” Wallace continued, reiterating that people don’t typically turn up for spontaneous demonstrations with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. “Did the Obama administration play down what happened in Libya, what happened in Cairo, because it would make Obama foreign policy look bad?”
“Absolutely no one intentionally or unintentionally misled anybody involved in this. Absolutely not,” Gibbs responded. “We learn more information every single day about what happened. Nobody wants to get to the bottom of this more than we do.”