In the hours following the 2012 attack on the American outpost in Benghazi, during which four Americans were killed, senior Obama administration officials — including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney — tried to advance a talking point that the incident was a protest over an anti-Islam YouTube video that had gone awry.
Even President Obama focused on religious tolerance in the days after the attack, giving passive mention to it as an “act of terror.” Eight days later, however, administration officials conceded that the incident in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.
It’s not hard to figure out why the administration didn’t want to immediately admit that the incident was a terrorist attack, after all, 2012 was a presidential election year and the Obama campaign was trying to boost his foreign policy credentials against Republican criticism. As it turned out, Mitt Romney’s campaign mishandled Benghazi at a presidential debate, and the issue was a nonfactor in the election.