House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) responded to President Obamaâs forceful condemnation of the GOPâs effort to portray his administrationâs response to the attacks on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya as a cover-up on Monday, suggesting that the president sought to downplay the severity of the incident by describing the killings of four Americans as an âact of terrorâ rather than a âterrorist attackâ
In the day following the Benghazi attacks, Obama appeared at the White House Rose Garden alongside then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In his remarks, Obama referred to the incident as an âact of terrorâ and used the phrase again at a campaign rally the day after in Denver, CO. âI want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished,â he said.
But Issa claimed that Obama relied on the âact of terrorâ formulation to dissuade Americans from thinking it was a terror attack, thus improving his chances of re-election.
âThe president sent a letter to the President of Libya where he didnât call it a terrorist attack even when at the time the President of Libya was calling it pre-planned Sept. 11 terrorist attack,â Issa told Fox Newsâ Megyn Kelly. âThe words that are being used carefully â like you just said, âact of terrorâ â an âact of terrorâ is different than a âterrorist attack.â The truth is, this was a terrorist attack, this had Al Qaeda at it.â Watch it:
Seven days after Obamaâs comments at the Rose Garden, National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen called the the assault in Benghazi an âopportunistic attackâ in testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. âI would say yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy,â he said, presumably pleasing Issa.
During a visit to Washington Hospital Center on Sep. 13, 2001 â just two days after the attacks on the World Trade Center â President George W. Bush described the incident as an âunbelievable act of terror.â