With less than two weeks to go before Election Day, Speaker John Boehner is urging President Barack Obama to publicly address the bungled public response to the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
In a letter to the president, the Ohio Republican said that the administration’s response has been baffling not only to the public, but to House Members who attended an interagency briefing on the incident in September and were given information contradictory to what is now known about how the attack occurred.
“Americans remain concerned and frustrated about how your Administration handled the response to the attack,” Boehner wrote. “The American public is increasing[ly] reading information contradicting early accounts by your Administration of the causes of the events of the day. In the absence of your direct engagement to clarify these concerns, the public’s frustration and confusion is likely to discredit efforts to achieve out shared goals of justice and accountability for the direct assault on American interests and the deaths of four public servants.”
U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the Benghazi attack.
Initially, the Obama administration reported that the attack stemmed from a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islam video, but information released since has shown that the attack was coordinated.
Boehner asked Obama to publicly address whether his administration briefed Stevens before the attack, whether the ambassador had any concerns, whether military force was considered during the attack or its aftermath, and whether the administration is handling the investigation as a law enforcement matter or as a military matter.
The FBI has taken a lead role in investigating the attack, as it does when American civilians are attacked abroad.
“Why did the Administration fail to account for facts that were known at the time?” Boehner asked in the letter. “I also request that you explain how the Administration’s policy response has shifted now that it is publicly acknowledging the attack as an act of terrorism and not a result of an escalating protest against an Internet video.”
The day after the attack, Obama described it as “an act of terror” and administration officials have since said they did not have all the relevant intelligence until after the news broke.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.