Speaking to reporters during a joint press conference with Prime Minister David Cameron Monday, President Obama called the controversy surrounding the editing of Benghazi talking points a "sideshow."
"The whole issue of talking points, frankly throughout this process has been a sideshow," Obama said. "There's no there, there."
Despite openly blaming a YouTube video in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attack, Obama said Monday at the time of the attack his administration wasn't sure who was responsible for the deaths of four Americans, including U.S Ambassador Chris Stevens.
"Immediately after this event happened we were not clear who exactly carried it out, how it occured or what the motivations were," Obama said. "Nobody understood exactly what was taking place during the course of those first few days."
Last Wednesday, Whistleblower and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya Gregory Hicks said in sworn testimony that he spoke to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at 2 a.m. on the night of the attack and told her, "We are under attack." He didn't mention a protest because there wasn't one. Hicks also said he was shocked when he heard UN Ambassador Susan Rice blame a YouTube video and a spontaneous protest on Sunday talk shows five days after the attack occurred.
ABC News reported late last week that the Benghazi talking points were edited 12 times and that all references to terrorism and al Qaeda were scrubbed. The initial version of unedited talking points were from the CIA and included warnings about terrorism, al Qaeda and a lack of security at the consulate in Benghazi. The best assessment sent from the intelligence community included multiple warnings about the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi. The final talking points with scrubbed references to terrorism and al Qaeda were edited by the State Department after communication and a meeting in the White House.
Obama admitted that the securing for diplomats in Benghazi at the time of the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2012 was not sufficient and that recommendations about how to keep State Department personnel safer are being implemented.
|Katie Pavlich is the News Editor at Townhall.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiepavlich. She is also the author of Fast and Furious: Barack Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and the Shameless Cover-Up.
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Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography