Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mitt Romney blasts Obama, claims Obama "sympathize" with terrorists attacking U.S. consulate in Libya

Last night, terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing the U.S. ambassador and three other American embassy workers in the process.  The attack was heinous, of course, but that is not what really surprised me here.  What really surprised me was GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's initial response to the terrorist attacks:
 “I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”
 This really goes beyond a WTF moment.  Read the statement again.  Mitt Romney is not just attacking President Obama for cheap political brownie points, but is making the claim that President Obama is sympathizing with the terrorists who attacked and killed a U.S. ambassador, and three American embassy workers.  President Obama is siding with the terrorists, against U.S. foreign policy interests, and against his own country?  Is that what Mittens is actually saying?

Now there is a back story, where before the attacks took place, the U.S embassy in Egypt issued a statement that “condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”  This statement was released before protests took place against the U.S. embassy in Cairo, over a movie "Innocence of Muslims," which shows the Prophet Muhammad as a homosexual son, advocating child slavery, and engaging in extramarital sex. The movie was directed and produced by an Israeli-American real-estate developer, Sam Bacile, and promoted by  Florida pastor Terry Jones, who generated his own controversy by burning the Koran.  The Cairo protests also took place on Tuesday night, before the terrorist attack in Libya.  So a U.S. embassy official in Egypt issues a statement condemning the release of this movie by Bacile, and promoted by Jones, which insults and angers Muslim citizens in the Middle East.  Muslim citizens protest against the movie, terrorists attack the U.S. embassy consulate in Libya, and Mittens Romney attacks Obama for sympathizing with the terrorists over a second-rate PR statement which some embassy staffer wrote before any of these protests and attacks even took place?  Ironically, an administration official told Politico that, "The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government." Oops.

I will admit that the back story of the Cairo statement, in relation with the protests and the terrorist attack in Libya is bad enough.  It is a foreign policy screw-up within the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Egypt.  But the real clusterfrack was the Romney campaign's response to this mess.  After learning of the terrorist attacks, the Romney campaign decided to use this statement as an official Obama administration response to the attacks, and state that President Obama's sympathies were with the terrorists, over that of the Americans killed in the attacks.  They got the timeline completely wrong.  Even worst, instead of taking some time to gather information on what happened in the Middle East, Mitt Romney impulsively rushes headlong into sticking more than his foot in his mouth--he stuck his foot, his ankle, his leg, and his ass way into his mouth here!  This is not the kind of president you want to have woken up at 3am in the midst of a crisis.

Of course, now the story is getting better.  According to Talking Points Memo:
Some moments show you when a candidate is ready or not to become President of the United States. I suspect last night will become one of those moments for Mitt Romney. The verdict will not be positive.
As I noted last night, when the full scale of the events in Cairo and Benghazi remained unknown, the Romney campaign let fly a crude political attack both blaming the Obama administration for the attacks and suggesting that the President actually sympathized with them. This was after it was known that an as yet-unnamed Foreign Service Officer (later identified as Sean Smith) had died....
This was followed shortly by another attack from one of Romney’s prime surrogates, RNC Chair Reince Priebus, explicitly accusing the President of sympathizing with the attackers.
Romney’s attack was not only ill-judged and ill-timed, it was actually based on what appears to be a demonstrable falsehood. Romney, or folks writing in his name at his campaign, claimed that the administration’s first response to the attacks was to issue a press release condemning the anti-Islam film which had helped trigger the attack. This they picked wholesale from the right-wing blogosphere.
In fact, according to all available press reports and the account of the State Department, the press release in question came from the US Embassy in Egypt and preceded the attacks. So to claim it was a response to the attacks was simply false. So while American diplomats were dying in the field, Romney pops up with an egregious attempt to politicize the deaths with a flat out lie.
Behind the curtains a more chaotic and rash picture emerges.
The statement from the Romney campaign was initially released by Romney press secretary Andrea Saul at 10:09 PM — but under an embargo until midnight on September 12th. In other words, it was embargoed until September 11th was over.
Then a few minutes later at 10:24 PM the embargo was lifted and reporters were told they could use the statement immediately. There was no clear explanation of the change.
Bear in mind, this was all happening while attacks on US personnel abroad were ongoing.
According to a statement released this morning by the White House, the President was told last night that Ambassador Chris Stevens was unaccounted for. Only this morning did he learn that Stevens had died in the attacks that were on-going last night.
The campaign also authorized Romney’s top foreign policy advisor to give a blistering interview attacking the president while the attacks were continuing.
So apparently the Romney campaign had set up a GOP-coordinated plan to slam President Obama on the terrorist attacks in Libya, to take place after September 11th memorial events of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks.   If this is accurate, then the entire Romney campaign can be considered incompetent for developing a crass, political attack that is not only based on a faulty timeline, but that they planned to engage in after September 11th.

What is even more ironic is that other GOP leaders are shying away from criticizing President Obama in the wake of the events unfolding in Libya.

President Obama's response to the Libyan terrorist attacks can be found here.

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