SIDNEY, Ohio — Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign demanded “complete candor” from the Obama administration Wednesday over what happened before and during the deadly assault on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
The Republican nominee, currently campaigning in Ohio, has taken President Barack Obama to task for not clarifying exactly what led to the September 11 attack that left the US ambassador and three other Americans dead, or whether there was sufficient security at the facility.
“With each passing day, we learn more about the ways in which the Obama administration misled the American people about the tragic events that transpired in the terrorist attack on our consulate,” Romney policy director Lanhee Chen said in a statement.
“On an issue of this importance, nothing short of full and complete candor is acceptable.”
Nearly a month after the attack, the government “continues to offer incomplete and indirect responses to simple and straightforward questions,” he said.
“It is up to President Obama and his administration to ensure that congressional investigators and the American people have a full accounting of the facts not just from that day, but from the days and months leading up to the attack.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney was repeatedly pressed on the evolution of explanations coming from the administration on the Benghazi attack.
Asked whether the administration had misled Americans over the cause of the strike, Carney answered: “absolutely not. The president of the United States referred to it as an act of terror immediately after it occurred.”
Carney also argued that the intelligence on the attack changed as more information became available, and that officials, including UN envoy Susan Rice, had tried to be as open about the unrest as possible.
The administration originally suggested that the attack on the consulate was a spontaneous extension of an existing protest outside the building sparked by an anti-Muslim film made on US soil.
But now, the State Department says there was no protest and the streets outside the consulate were quiet before an attack by dozens of armed men who invaded the premises, set it on fire and hunted for staff.
“There are many questions about whether or not the administration properly heeded warnings, provided adequate security, or told the American people the whole truth in the aftermath of the attack,” Chen said.
Republicans have accused the White House of covering up evidence that the attack was the work of terrorists, possibly linked to Al-Qaeda, to shield Obama as his re-election fight, stressing his commander-in-chief credentials, heads into its final weeks.
The Obama campaign in turn has accused Republicans of seeking to exploit a deadly attack on Americans for political gain.