The administration is pushing back against questions and criticism over the security at the U.S. Consulate in Libya, as well as President Obama’s remarks about the Middle East in a Sunday interview with “60 Minutes.”
Asked if the unrest in the Middle East has given him pause, President Obama said he knew there were “going to be bumps in the road,” in the interview.
“I think it was absolutely the right thing for us to do to align ourselves with democracy, universal rights—a notion that—people have—to be able to—participate—in—their own governance,” Obama said in the interview. “But I was pretty certain and continue to be pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road because—you know, in a lot of these places—the one organizing principle—has been Islam.”
Protests have raged in more than 17 countries during the last two weeks, with attacks on U.S. Embassies, chants of “death to America,” and violence. In Pakistan, one government official placed a $100,000 bounty on the head of the creator of an anti-Islam film.
White House press secretary Jay Carney called suggestions that Obama was, with the “bumps in the road” comment, marginalizing the deaths at the U.S. Consulate “both desperate and offensive,” in a Monday press briefing.
The State Department, meanwhile, is in damage control mode over the attack at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, Buzzfeed reported Sunday.
One State Department aide told a BuzzFeed reporter to “fuck off” after the reporter, challenged the aide’s responses to questions about CNN’s reporting from a journal kept by the late Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
The email exchange began with the reporter, Michael Hastings, asking a series of questions about the journal:
“Why didn’t the State Department search the consulate and find AMB Steven’s diary first? What other potential valuable intelligence was left behind that could have been picked up by apparently anyone searching the grounds? Was any classified or top secret material also left? Do you still feel that there was adequate security at the compound, considering it was not only overrun but sensitive personal effects and possibly other intelligence remained out for anyone passing through to pick up? Your statement on CNN sounded pretty defensive—do you think it’s the media’s responsibility to help secure State Department assets overseas after they’ve been attacked?”
After some back and forth, in which Hastings called the aide’s responses “bullshit,” the aide responded that he was “done with (Hastings).”