After the White House for the first time Thursday explicitly called the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya an act of terror, President Obama ducked an opportunity to clear up the confusion about the ever-changing narrative -- appearing to hold firm to the story that an anti-Islam film was to blame.
The president spoke Thursday at a town hall hosted by the Spanish-language Univision. He declined to get into specifics, even as lawmakers said after an intelligence briefing that there clearly was "some pre-planning" in last week's deadly attack.
Instead, Obama launched into an explanation about how the U.S. saw something it's seen before, where "there is an offensive video or cartoon directed at the Prophet Muhammad" and that is used "as an excuse by some to carry out inexcusable violent acts" against the U.S.
Obama stressed that we're "still doing an investigation" and said he didn't know whether Al Qaeda was involved.
"There are going to be different circumstances in different countries. 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," he said. Obama did not answer the original question posed at the forum about why security wasn't tighter at diplomatic posts.
Despite the president's reluctance to clarify what has been a wave of evolving statements from administration officials and lawmakers alike, back in Washington the narrative was starting to crystallize.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, for the first time, called the attack terrorism.
"It is, I think, self evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack," Carney said. "Our embassy was attacked violently and the result was four deaths of American officials. That is self evident."
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