Obama’s camp calls Libya hit ‘terrorism’

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But the White House on Wednesday continued to defend its previous statement that the attack was an opportunistic strike prompted by the video rather than a long-planned operation against the U.S.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters traveling with the president on the campaign trail in Ohio that the U.S. counterterrorism chief’s assessment was that the attackers seized a chance that was opportunistic, rather than a long-planned assault.

Lawmakers from both parties on Capitol Hill have called for the administration to release more details about security at diplomatic posts after the Benghazi and Cairo attacks.

In addition, eight House Republican committee chairmen, including the leaders of the Intelligence and Armed Services committees, are demanding a new briefing “as soon as possible” from the Obama administration on the Libyan attack, criticizing the administration for having a “pre-9/11 mindset” in responding to the attacks and scolding Mr. Obama for failing to label it terrorism.

“Decades after al Qaeda attacked our embassies in East Africa, which catalyzed a series of events that led to the attacks on 9/11, it appears they executed a highly coordinated and well-planned attack against us again,” the letter said. “Clearly, the threat from al Qaeda and affiliated groups has metastasized; yet we do not appear to be learning from the past.”

Mr. Carney told reporters the administration has provided “as much information as it has been able to” about the Libya attack, but said there are FBI and State Department investigations going on, and they must be allowed to do their work.

For his part, Mr. Obama, campaigning in Ohio on Wednesday, stuck to his stump speech, saying that al Qaeda is “on the path to defeat” and that Osama bin Laden is dead.

He also acknowledged that the attacks of “just a few days ago” show that Americans “still face some serious threats in the world.” But he did not label the attacks terrorism.

On Tuesday, speaking to the U.N., Mr. Obama tried to strike a balance between criticizing the anti-Islam film, which he called “crude and disgusting,” and defending American rights of free expression.

“I know there are some who ask, ‘Why we don’t just ban such a video?’ The answer is enshrined in our laws: Our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech,” he said.

The worldwide backlash against “Innocence of Muslims” spread Wednesday, as Turkey and Brazil imposed restrictions on the video clips.

A Turkish court agreed Wednesday to let authorities block access to the film, according to the country’s communications minister. Binali Yildirim told the state-run TRT network that the film was “disgusting” and a “hate crime.”

Meanwhile, Judge Gilson Delgado Miranda agreed Wednesday with Brazil’s National Union of Islamic Entities that “Innocence of Muslims” violates the mostly Catholic country’s religious-freedom guarantees. She gave Google 10 days to block access in Brazil to the film trailer, after which the company will be fined.

Over the weekend, a Pakistani Cabinet minister offered a $100,000 reward to anyone who killed the California-based maker of the film, a Coptic Christian. The government in Pakistan said those were the minister’s own views.

But Mr. Saeed, in his interview with Reuters, which the news agency said was conducted in front of bodyguards, said the U.S. president should have been able to do something about the film.

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About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.

Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.

 

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