President Barack Obama’s debunked debate claim that he has always described the raid that left four Americans, including Amb. Christopher Stevens, dead in Libya as a terrorist attack has drawn fire from conservatives.
During a press gaggle in Florida that took place nine days after the attack, White House press secretary Jay Carney acknowledged that the administration had not at that point in time used the term "terrorism" to describe the assault on the Benghazi consulate.
Q: No, I just hadn’t heard the White House say that this was an act of terrorism or a terrorist attack. And I just –
MR. CARNEY: I don’t think the fact that we hadn’t is not — as our NCTC [National Counterterrorism Center] director testified yesterday, a number of different elements appear to have been involved in the attack, including individuals connected to militant groups that are prevalent in eastern Libya, particularly in the Benghazi area. We are looking at indications that individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to al Qaeda or al Qaeda’s affiliates, in particular al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. [Emphasis added]
The administration’s changing explanation of the events in Libya has taken center stage in the election. Obama incorrectly insisted that he had described the assault as an "act of terror" during Tuesday night’s presidential townhall in Hempstead, N.Y.
"The day after the attack, Governor, I stood in the Rose Garden, and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror," he said.
Obama, however, said no such thing in the speech.
Gov. Mitt Romney pressed Obama on the matter before being interrupted by moderator Candy Crowley—who later admitted that she was wrong to affirm Obama’s claim, saying that Romney was "right in the main."
American Crossroads GPS, a conservative advocacy group, pointed to White House press secretary Carney’s refusal to call the attack an act of terror.
"President Obama clearly misled the American people last night on Benghazi, as no subsequent statement by the White House or the president’s own spokesman reflected what he claimed in the debate," the group said in a release.