Keywords: biden, vp debate, benghazi, intelligence, state department, white house
Vice President Biden's statement that "we did not know" officials at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya wanted more security are causing some to wonder just how in touch the White House is with its intelligence experts.
The White House scrambled Friday to explain Biden's confusing statement, claiming he was referring only to "himself" and President Obama.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Biden "He was speaking directly for himself and for the president. He meant the White House," Carney said. He claimed it was "very clear" in context, while continuing to accuse Republicans of twisting the tragedy into a "political attack."
That later statement echoes comments made by Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter who earlier this week said the only reason Benghazi is in the political dialogue is because the Romney & Ryan ticket are making it a part of their stump speech.
During Thursday's debate, congressman Paul Ryan criticized Biden about the protection of diplomatic posts in Libya in the run-up to the Sept. 11 terror attack.
Moderator Martha Raddatz pushed Biden on the issue: "And they wanted more security there."
Biden responded: "Well, we weren't told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again."
"These kinds of issues are handled in the State Department," he said," Carney told reporters. "What I'm saying is that matters of security personnel are appropriately discussed and decided upon at the State Department."
Mitt Romney, at a Virginia campaign rally on Friday asserted that Biden had "directly contradicted" State Department testimony.
"He's doubling down on denial, and we need to understand exactly what happened," Romney said.
In addition to raising eyebrows over that comment, the vice president went a step further Thursday and threw the intelligence community under the bus -- putting the blame squarely on their shoulders for the faulty narrative, pushed for more than a week by the administration, that the attack was a protest spun out of control.
"That was exactly what we were told by the intelligence community. The intelligence community told us that. As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment," Biden said.
State Department officials who testified Wednesday suggested as well that when U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice claimed the Sunday after the attack that protests over an anti-Islam film were to blame, she was merely basing her comments on the intelligence at the time.
However, lawmakers by that point had been publicly challenging the notion that the protests were a factor. And sources have since confirmed that some in the intelligence community were pointing to terrorism within 24 hours of the attack.