The White House is claiming Vice President Joe Biden speaks only for himself and President Barack Obama, not the entire administration, after he said "we" weren’t aware that U.S. diplomats in Libya wanted more security.
Biden's statement during Thursday's vice presidential debate that "we weren’t told they wanted more security there" was directly at odds with the State Department, which acknowledged it received multiple requests for increased security prior to the Sept. 11, 2012 attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
A top White House official told Foreign Policy magazine Friday that neither Obama nor Biden were aware of the requests and that Biden does not speak for the entire administration:
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.
The State Department security officials who testified before House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa's panel Wednesday never said they had made their requests to the president, Rhodes pointed out. That would be natural because the State Department is responsible for diplomatic security, not the White House, he said. Rhodes also pointed out that the officials were requesting more security in Tripoli, not Benghazi.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Friday blasted Biden's answer and accused him of "doubling down on denial."
"The vice president directly contradicted the sworn testimony of State Department officials," Romney said. "He’s doubling down on denial. And we need to understand exactly what happened as opposed to just have people brush this aside. When the vice president of the United States directly contradicts the testimony, sworn testimony, of State Department officials, American citizens have a right to know just what's going on."
Later on Friday, White House press secretary Jay Carney also made to separate Biden's comments from the administration Friday as well.
"The vice president was speaking about himself and the president and the White House. He was not referring to the administration, clearly, since there was a public hearing for four-and-a-half hours where it was discussed openly by individuals working at the State Department requests that were made," Carney told reporters. "He was speaking about himself and the president and the White House."
But even that explanation has potential problems, as one YouTube commenter noted:
Does Jay Carney understand what he just said? He's trying to say that the US Commander and Chief did not have the information that is critical to National Security for more than a week after they FALSELY told the world that what evolved into a global uprising was because of a poorly made video about Muhammad loaded into Youtube that only had a few hundred views at the time. That's a wee scary eh?
This post has been updated since it was first published to add comments from Mitt Romney and Jay Carney.