‘Terrorist Attack’ Language: Analysis


The President said that he called the attack on the Benghazi embassy a terrorist attack when he spoke in the Rose Garden on September 12.

His remarks are much less clear.

Obama emphasized the offending YouTube video early in his remarks at the White House:

We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None.

He then referenced general “acts of terror”:

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.

Commentary Magazine argued that this statement did not clearly reference this particular attack:

Obama said during the speech that “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation” — but at no point was it clear that he was using that term to describe the attack in Benghazi. He’d also spent the previous two paragraphs discussing the 9/11 attacks and the aftermath. “Acts of terror” could have just as easily been a reference to that. Or maybe it wasn’t a direct reference to anything, just a generic, reassuring line he’d added into a speech which did take place, after all, the day after the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice continued to blame the violence on the YouTube video, even after the administration had concluded that the attack was a premeditated act of terrorism by an al Qaeda-affiliated group.