It has been 8 months since the terrorist attacks on our facilities in Benghazi, Libya, attacks that ended up killing four Americans including our ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. Still we haven’t had a concrete explanation about this incident and new State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki didn’t do anything to alleviate that state of affairs as reporters peppered her with uncomfortable questions in her May 13 press briefing.
One exchange during the briefing between Psaki and a reporter named Brad (perhaps the AP’s Brad Klapper) was particularly sharp.
At one point, Psaki avers that the State Department was not privy to the 12-times re-written Benghazi talking points until after all the re-writes were done. The reporter was a bit incredulous at that noting that there is no proof for her blithe claim because her office is refusing to release the records to prove it.
What was Psaki’s reply? “All right. Well, you’ll have to take my word for it…”
QUESTION: So who – no, no, no. Who is responsible for this? What does your talking points say today?
MS. PSAKI: On which piece?
QUESTION: On Benghazi. It’s been eight months. Specifically on al-Qaida and Ansar al-Sharia, do you believe that they were responsible for this incident?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, Brad, as you know, there’s still an ongoing FBI investigation —
QUESTION: So that’s looking forward?
MS. PSAKI: There is still – yes, we’re focused on the ongoing – the investigation, finding out who is responsible. You heard the President say that earlier today.
QUESTION: How many people have been brought to justice for this?
MS. PSAKI: Brad, you know the answer to that question, but their focus is on —
QUESTION: Is it zero?
MS. PSAKI: — getting it right. The focus is on getting to the bottom of who needs to be held accountable. Of course, we know this was a terrorist attack, as was said the day after the event. We know there are a number of active extremist groups. That’s something our friends and colleagues over at the FBI are focused on.
QUESTION: The President said today that this assessment regarding the protest happened in the early days when we didn’t know who these people were or their motivations, and now you’re telling me today you don’t know who these people are or their motivations?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, let me —
QUESTION: Have you changed your —
MS. PSAKI: Not at all. Let me point you back to – even if you look at the talking points and the train of that, the reference to al-Qaida was taken out even before the State Department saw the talking points. They were the best evaluation from the intel community of what was happening at the time. We know —
QUESTION: I can’t know that it was taken out before the State Department saw it because you haven’t released all that information. You’re just telling me that.
MS. PSAKI: All right. Well, you’ll have to take my word for it, or I believe that email may have been public. But the larger point here, Brad, is that this is an ongoing investigation. I know that you’d like to see some results of that, as many people would. The President and the Secretary, their counterparts and partners in the intel community are very focused on that.
QUESTION: Is there a statute of limitations on this investigation, or does it end in January 22nd, 2016 or something?
MS. PSAKI: Brad, I think they’re focused solely on getting to the bottom of this and finding out what happened and who to hold accountable. There’s no other factors.