Obama Won’t Call Libya Attacks Terrorism… ASKS Congress to Give Egypt $450 Million in Aid-
Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler has a terrific list of statements made after the Benghazi attack by administration officials and President Obama. Interestingly, despite the fact that yesterday it was reported that U.S. officials knew as early as September 12 that the attack was orchestrated by al-Qaeda, no official used the term “terrorism” until September 19th, when National Counterterrorism Center director Matthew Olsen said in a congressional testimony, “I would say yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy.”
The next day at the Univision Town hall, Obama is asked this: “We have reports that the White House said today that the attacks in Libya were a terrorist attack. Do you have information indicating that it was Iran, or al-Qaeda was behind organizing the protests?”
But in his response, Obama suggests it remains unclear whether the attack was an act of terror. “Well, we’re still doing an investigation, and there are going to be different circumstances in different countries,” Obama said. “And so I don’t want to speak to something until we have all the information. What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.”
And then again, several days after Olsen has told Congress that the attack in Benghazi was a “a terrorist attack,” Obama refuses to call it terrorism when appearing on The View in an episode that aired September 25. In response to this question, “I heard Hillary Clinton say it was an act of terrorism.” “Is it? What do you say?”, Obama said, “We are still doing an investigation. There is no doubt that the kind of weapons that were used, the ongoing assault, that it wasn’t just a mob action. Now, we don’t have all the information yet so we are still gathering.” Once again, there is no mention of the word “terrorism.”
In fact, to the best of my knowledge, Obama has yet to describe the attack as “terrorism” in any public forum.
Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom criticized the Obama administration’s handling of the matter today. “I think President Obama needs to be held accountable for his administration’s attempts to mislead the American people about what happened in Benghazi,” Fehrnstrom said on Fox News Channel’s America’s Newsroom. “We were initially told that this was a spontaneous demonstration in response to a video that was on You Tube. The administration sent their ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, on the Sunday shows to defend that position. Now we’re learning that it was a pre-planned terrorist attack, conduct on the anniversary of 9/11 and that it involved elements of Al Qaida.”
WH Moves to Give Egypt $450 Million in Aid Meets Resistance
September 28, 2012
The Obama administration notified Congress on Friday that it would provide Egypt’s new government an emergency cash infusion of $450 million, but the aid immediately encountered resistance from a prominent lawmaker wary of foreign aid and Egypt’s new course under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The aid is part of the $1 billion in assistance that the Obama administration has pledged to Egypt to bolster its transition to democracy after the overthrow last year of the former president, Hosni Mubarak. Its fate, however, was clouded by concerns over the new government’s policies and, more recently, the protests that damaged the American Embassy in Cairo.
The United States Agency for International Development notified Congress of the cash infusion on Friday morning during the pre-election recess, promptly igniting a smoldering debate over foreign aid and the administration’s handling of crises in the Islamic world.
An influential Republican lawmaker, Representative Kay Granger of Texas, immediately announced that she would use her position as chairwoman of the House appropriations subcommittee overseeing foreign aid to block the distribution of the money. She said the American relationship with Egypt “has never been under more scrutiny” than it is in the wake of the election of President Mohamed Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“I am not convinced of the urgent need for this assistance and I cannot support it at this time,” Ms. Granger said in a statement that her office issued even before the administration announced the package.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking at a meeting of the Group of 8 nations in New York, said on Friday that the world needed to do more to support the governments that have emerged from the Arab Spring uprisings, including those in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
“The recent riots and protests throughout the region have brought the challenge of transition into sharp relief,” Mrs. Clinton said, without mentioning the assistance to Egypt specifically. “Extremists are clearly determined to hijack these wars and revolutions to further their agendas and ideology, so our partnership must empower those who would see their nations emerge as true democracies.”
The debate comes as the issue of foreign aid in general made an unexpected appearance in the presidential campaign.
In a speech in New York on Tuesday, Mr. Obama’s Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, called for revamping assistance to focus more on investments in the private sector than on direct aid — a shift administration officials have said is under way.
While Mr. Romney did not address aid to Egypt directly, he cited Mr. Morsi’s membership in the Muslim Brotherhood as one of the alarming developments in the Middle East, along with the war in Syria, Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the killing of the American ambassador to Libya.
“A temporary aid package can jolt an economy,” he said. “It can fund some projects. It can pay some bills. It can employ some people some of the time. But it can’t sustain an economy — not for long. It can’t pull the whole cart, because at some point the money runs out.”
The $1 billion in aid, announced by Mr. Obama in May 2011, was initially intended to relieve Egypt’s debts to the United States, though negotiations stalled during the country’s turbulent transition from military rule to the election of Mr. Morsi this summer.
In recent weeks, negotiations over the assistance picked up pace, and the administration decided to provide $450 million instead, including $190 million immediately, because the country’s economic crisis has become acute, with an estimated budget shortfall of $12 billion.
The assistance outlined in letters to Congress on Friday would be contingent on Egypt’s setting in motion economic and budgetary changes that the International Monetary Fund is now negotiating as part of a $4.8 billion loan.
The administration has also thrown its support behind that loan, and officials said they hoped it would be completed before the end of the year. A $260 million infusion would come when the much larger loan is completed, according to officials familiar with the package. By law, all assistance to Egypt is contingent on the country’s meeting certain requirements, including adherence to basic democratic values and the Camp David peace treaty with Israel.
The protests over an anti-Muslim video and the storming of the American Embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11 came even as senior White House and State Department officials led a large business delegation to promote economic assistance and trade in Egypt.
Mr. Morsi’s slow response to the protests raised concerns in Washington, although administration officials later cited improved cooperation over the embassy’s security.
The $1 billion in assistance has been cobbled together from funds already appropriated by Congress, but the administration is required to notify lawmakers of its intention to release any of the funds. Ms. Granger presumably can put a hold on that release and pursue legislation to reverse the appropriation.
Mrs. Clinton lobbied lawmakers last week during closed-door briefings that focused on the tumult across the region, including the attack at the American diplomatic mission in Libya that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
In addition to the $1 billion in assistance, the administration is working with Egypt to provide $375 million in financing and loan guarantees for American financiers who invest in Egypt and a $60 million investment fund for Egyptian businesses. All of that comes on top of $1.3 billion in military aid that the United States provides Egypt each year.
A senior State Department official said that the administration would consult with members of Congress in the days ahead “to make the case that this budget support is firmly in U.S. interests in seeing peace, stability and democracy in Egypt and the wider neighborhood.”
SO THE QUESTION BEGS:
HOW DO WE KNOW WE ARE NOT FUNDING TERRORIST ATTACKS AGAINST OUR OWN COUNTRY WHEN THERE IS NO ACCOUNTABILITY?