Myths And Facts About The Benghazi Attack And Protests In The Middle East


Right-wing media have pushed numerous myths about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and protests in the Middle East, from distorting the Obama administration's response to the attacks to misleading about the nature of security at the Benghazi consulate.

MYTH: Obama "Sympathize[d] With Those Who Waged The Attacks"

Romney: Obama Administration's Handling Of Attacks Was "Akin To An Apology." Following the violence in Libya and Egypt, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney issued a statement accusing President Obama of "sympathiz[ing] with those who waged the attacks" instead of "condemn[ing] attacks on our diplomatic missions." From The New York Times:

Mitt Romney on Wednesday took aim at the Obama administration's handling of unfolding developments in the Mideast, including the death of an American ambassador in Benghazi, Libya, accusing the administration of a "severe miscalculation" and calling its handling of the matter "akin to an apology."


"I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi," Mr. Romney said in a statement that went out just before 10:30 p.m. "It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks." [The New York Times9/12/12]

For more on Romney's statement following the attacks on the U.S. embassy and consulate, see here.

Fox's Stephen Hayes: "On The Substance," Romney Was Right. On the September 12 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Fox contributor Stephen Hayes claimed Romney's "critique was the right critique." Hayes disagreed with Romney's timing but only because "the media were going to obsess on this." [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 9/12/12, via Media Matters]

On Fox, Ann Coulter Claimed Romney's Response Was "Perfectly Appropriate." During the September 13 edition of Fox & Friends, Ann Coulter praised Romney by calling his response to the embassy attacks "perfectly appropriate" and attacked the media for being shocked by Romney's comments. Coulter claimed that "there is nothing shocking" about what Romney said. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/13/12, via Media Matters]

On Fox & Friends, Andrew Napolitano Bolstered Romney By Calling His Remarks "Statesmanlike."  On Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy asked Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano what he thought about Romney's comments. Napolitano replied, in part, "[W]hat he said yesterday in my view was statesmanlike and was far more presidential than what President Obama said." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/12/12, via Media Matters]

FACT: No Evidence Supports The Widely Criticized Claim That Obama "Sympathize[d]" With Attackers

ABC's Tapper: Evidence For Claim That Obama "Sympathizes" With Attackers "Does Not In Any Way Exist." Jake Tapper, ABC News' senior White House correspondent, noted that this attack does not "stand up to simple chronology." He went on to write, "The evidence that the president 'sympathizes with attackers in Egypt' was not immediately apparent, likely because it does not in any way exist." [, 9/12/12]

Claim That Obama "Sympathize[d]" With Attackers Was Widely Criticized. While some right-wing media figures defended Romney's remarks, other conservatives criticized them. Former Bush speechwriter David Frum called the comments a "dismal business in every respect," while conservative columnist Peggy Noonan said in a Wall Street Journal video, "Romney looked weak today." Foreign policy experts likewise criticized Romney's claims. [Media Matters, 9/13/12, 9/13/12]

MYTH: Response To Embassy Attacks Was Part Of Obama's "Apology Tour"

Fox's Carlson: Obama Went To Cairo And "Gave What Many Believe To Be An Apology Kind Of A Speech." During the September 12 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, while discussing the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo and consulate in Benghazi, co-host Gretchen Carlson said:

President Obama went to Cairo, early on in his administration and gave what many believed to be an apology kind of a speech. That was an outreach, according to the administration, to the Muslim nations, that this was going to be a different kind of president. And what happened? The polls said that people in Muslim nations disliked Americans more, after that speech. And now you are seeing, because of a crazy movie put out with clips on YouTube, that this kind of uprising can happen in these Middle Eastern nations. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/12/12]

Fox's Bolling Asks Obama: "How's The Appeasement And Apology Tour Working Out For You, Sir?" During the September 17 edition of Fox News' The Five, a clip of Obama speaking about outreach to the Muslim world was aired. Co-host Eric Bolling then said, "So how's the appeasement and apology tour working out for you, sir?" [Fox News, The Five, 9/17/12]

FACT: Obama Has Not Conducted An "Apology Tour"

Fact-Checkers Have Repeatedly Debunked The Claim That Obama Has "Apologized For America." In February 2011, Washington Post Fact Check blogger Glenn Kessler wrote that Obama's "apology tour never happened" and gave the claim his worst rating of "Four Pinocchios." In a June 2011 fact check, the Associated Press wrote that Obama "never made" apologies "for America." PolitiFact has repeatedly labeled the claim "ridiculous" and "false." [Media Matters, 4/26/12]

MYTH: There Was "No Security" At Libyan Consulate

Limbaugh: Ambassador Stevens Had "No Security" At Benghazi Consulate. During the September 21 edition of his Premiere Radio Networks' program, Rush Limbaugh claimed that Ambassador Chris Stevens had "no security -- none." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/21/12, via Media Matters]

FACT: There Were Multiple Teams Of Armed Guards At Libyan Consulate

WSJ: Consulate Security Included "A Four-Man Team Of Armed Guards Protecting The Perimeter" And "Five Armed State Department Diplomatic Security Officers." A September 21 Wall Street Journal article reported that security at the Libyan consulate included "a four-man team of armed guards protecting the perimeter and four unarmed Libyan guards inside to screen visitors." The Journal also noted: "Besides the four armed Libyans outside, five armed State Department diplomatic security officers were at the consulate." [The Wall Street Journal, 9/21/12]

WSJ: Prior To Attacks, "Embassy Personnel Conducted A Security Review." The same Wall Street Journal article reported that a security review was conducted right before the attacks on the consulate:

In the days before Sept. 11, intelligence agencies issued their annual warning of heightened security risks around the anniversary of the 2001 attacks. Many counterterrorism officials saw a lessened risk this year than last year, which was the 10th anniversary and the first one after the killing of Osama bin Laden.

In Libya, embassy personnel conducted a security review right before the anniversary. It determined there was no reason to think an attack was planned or the consulate in Benghazi was "insufficiently postured," said a senior administration official. [The Wall Street Journal, 9/21/12]

MYTH: Consulate Attack Was The "First Successful Terror Attack Since 9/11"

Fox's Gretchen Carlson Suggests Consulate Attack Was "The First Successful Terror Attack Since 9/11." During the September 17 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson asked, "Did the first successful terror attack since 9/11 just happen under President Obama's watch?" [Media Matters, 9/17/12]

FACT: There Have Been Multiple Terrorist Attacks Since 9/11 -- Including Several On U.S. Soil

There Were Several High-Profile Attacks On U.S. Soil Under Bush, And There Have Been Thousands Of Attacks Worldwide In The Last Decade. There were several high-profile terrorist attacks on U.S. soil under President Bush, including the 2001 anthrax attacks, the 2002 D.C.-area sniper, and the 2002 attack against the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport. In its 2008 report, the State Department counted 19 private U.S. citizens killed by terrorism in 2007. The report also counted more than 40,000 terrorist attacks worldwide between 2005 and 2007. [Media Matters, 9/17/12, 5/3/10]

MYTH: There Was "No Storming" Of U.S. Embassies Under Other Presidents

Krauthammer: "There Was No Storming Of The U.S. Embassy In Cairo In Those Days." During the September 13 edition of Special Report, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said:

KRAUTHAMMER: The irony is that it began in Cairo, in the same place where the speech he made at the beginning of his presidency in which he said he wanted a new beginning with mutual respect, implying that under other presidents, particularly Bush, there was a lack of mutual respect, which was an insult to the United States, which had gone to war six times in the last 20 years on behalf of oppressed Muslims in Kuwait, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

So to imply that we somehow had mistreated Muslims, which was the premise of his speech, and how the Iraq war had inflamed the Arab world against us -- well, there was no storming of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo in those days. [Media Matters, 9/14/12]

FACT: There Have Been Numerous Embassy And Consulate Attacks Under Recent Presidents

There Have Been At Least 15 Attacks On U.S. Embassies And Consulates Since 1979 -- Including Seven Under George W. Bush. U.S. embassies and consulates were attacked at least 15 times under the presidencies of Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush. Seven of those attacks occurred during the presidency of George W. Bush. [Media Matters, 9/14/12]

MYTH: Obama Administration Is Engaged In A "Cover-Up" Of Libya Consulate Attack

Hannity: "We Are Witnessing A Widespread Cover-Up Based On Flat-Out Lies." Sean Hannity began his September 20 Fox News show by airing a montage of White House officials speaking about the attacks on the U.S. embassy and consulate. He then said:

HANNITY: All right now, how this event can evolve from an impromptu riot about a YouTube video to a premeditated terrorist attack in the span of a week -- well, that can be explained one of three ways. Number one, this administration is stupid, simple as that. Number two, this administration is on the receiving end of some of the worst intelligence in American history. Or number three, we are witnessing a widespread cover-up based on flat-out lies, all aimed to protect a president who happens to be running for re-election. I'm going with number three, and in a moment, I'm going to show you the evidence to back it up. [Fox News, Hannity, 9/20/12]

Hannity Accuses Obama Admin. Of Lying To Protect "The Perpetrators Of Terror, The Murderers Of Americans," And Possibly Al Qaeda. Later during his show, while discussing the attacks with Fox News contributor Sarah Palin, Hannity said: "This lie that they told, they're protecting the perpetrators of terror, the murderers of Americans. I -- help me out. Is it Al Qaeda they're protecting, too, in the process? Because why? They don't want to admit that, you know, saying they stopped torture worked, and the apology tour didn't work? What is the thinking behind this?" [Fox News, Hannity, 9/20/12]

Van Susteren: "Incompetence, Or Cover-Up, Or Something Else?" During Fox News' On the Record, host Greta van Susteren said, after showing a montage of clips related to the attacks, "Why does the Obama administration keep changing its tune? Incompetence, or cover-up, or something else?" [Fox News, On the Record with Greta van Susteren, 9/20/12]

FACT: FBI Is Investigating Libya Attack, And State Dept. Panel Is Conducting Independent Inquiry

Press Secretary Jay Carney On Sept. 12: Benghazi Attack "Is Under Investigation." The day after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that the violence was already "being investigated" and that "as we find out information that can be made available I'm sure we will." From Carney's statements:

CARNEY: It's too early for us to make that judgment [that Benghazi attacks were planned and premeditated]. I think -- I know that this is being investigated, and we're working with the Libyan government to investigate the incident. So I would not want to speculate on that at this time.


I want to be careful about making statements that are based on speculation about this incident and its causes. It's under investigation, obviously, and as we find out information that can be made available I'm sure we will. [Press gaggle, 9/12/12]

Attorney General Holder Cut Trip Short To Manage FBI's Libya Probe. On September 13, the Associated Press reported that Attorney General Eric Holder ended a trip to the Middle East early, skipping stops in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, to return to the U.S. to manage the investigation. The AP wrote, "The attorney general's change in plans followed remarks he made Thursday in Doha, Qatar, that the FBI has opened a full investigation into the deaths and the attack on the consulate." [Associated Press, 9/13/12]

Ambassador Rice: "I Do Think It's Important For The American People To Know Our Best Current Assessment." On September 16 during Fox News Sunday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice noted that the investigation into the Benghazi violence was ongoing and briefed host Chris Wallace on the latest information:

WALLACE: Let's talk about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi this week that killed four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens. A top Libyan official now says that the attack on that consulate, on Tuesday, was quote, his words: "Pre-planned." Al-Qaeda says the operation was revenge for our killing a top Al-Qaeda leader.

RICE: Well, first of all, Chris, we are obviously investigating this very closely. The FBI has a lead in this investigation. The information, the best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack. That what happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video. People gathered outside the embassy and then it grew very violent. Those with extremist ties joined the fray and came with heavy weapons, which unfortunately are quite common in post-revolutionary Libya and that then spun out of control.

But we don't see at this point signs this was a coordinated plan, premeditated attack. Obviously, we will wait for the results of the investigation and we don't want to jump to conclusions before then. But I do think it's important for the American people to know our best current assessment. [Fox Broadcasting, Fox News Sunday, via Media Matters, 9/16/12]

Director Of National Counterterrorism Center Testified At Senate Committee Hearing About The Attack. On September 19, director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matt Olsen informed lawmakers about information obtained in the investigation. From The Washington Post:

The U.S. ambassador and three other Americans killed last week in Libya died "in the course of a terrorist attack," a senior U.S. intelligence official told lawmakers Wednesday.

Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, repeated earlier statements by the Obama administration that initial conclusions do not point to a planned assault. Instead, he said, "the facts that we have now indicate that this was an opportunistic attack," in which heavily armed militants took advantage of an ongoing demonstration at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

But Olsen went beyond those conclusions to say that the people involved in the violent assault appeared to have come from several militant groups, including localized extremists in eastern Libya as well as affiliates of al-Qaeda.

"The picture that is emerging is one where a number of different individuals were involved, so it's not necessarily an either/or proposition," Olsen told a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. [The Washington Post, 9/19/12]

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: State Dept. Launching Independent Inquiry Into Consulate Attacks. From The Washington Post:

The State Department is opening a new inquiry into the attack on a diplomatic post in Libya that killed four Americans, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday.


The inquiry announced by Clinton will be carried out by an independent four-member panel chaired by retired diplomat Thomas Pickering. The panel, required by law, will look at whether security procedures were adequate at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and make recommendations to the secretary of state. Pickering was once the boss of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who was killed in the Benghazi attack last week, along with another diplomat and two security personnel. [The Washington Post, 9/20/12]

MYTH: Obama Admin. Denied That Attacks Could Be Terrorism And Blamed Violence On Anti-Muslim Film

Fox's Bolling: Obama Admin. Wants To Blame Attacks On Anti-Muslim Film Instead Of Calling It "What It Really Was. A Terrorist Attack." From the September 21 edition of The Five:

DANA PERINO (co-host): When Ambassador Rice goes on the Sunday shows -- first of all, she's never out, anyway. You never see her. She goes out, she's the one who says, this is all just the video, that's the information we have at the time. Three days later, we find out that that is completely wrong. How does that happen?

ERIC BOLLING (co-host): Honestly, Dana, it looks and smells and probably is a cover-up. The White House is covering up for what is going to end up being a terrorist attack on American soil, and there are three reasons. They're all political. Number one, because in the hours in the aftermath of the attack, President Obama decided to go get on Air Force Once, go to Las Vegas, pick up some campaign checks. Number two, this isn't an attack in retaliation for 9/11. 9/11 was 11 years ago. This is an attack in retaliation for [the] bin Laden killing and the victory lap that the Obama administration has been taking, especially at the DNC. Remember this line? "Bin Laden's dead. GM's alive." So the more they did that, the more it angered the Muslims, the radical Muslim world. And they said, "You know what? Enough is enough," and they went and did that. But the administration -- that doesn't look good. Politically, it looks bad for President Obama. So they had to blame it on a movie. Anything but what it really was. A terrorist attack. [Fox News, The Five, 9/21/12, via Media Matters]

Hannity: Anti-Muslim Film Is "Convenient Excuse" To Avoid Admitting Attack Was Terrorism. During the September 17 edition of Hannity, host Sean Hannity said the Obama administration is blaming the anti-Islam video for attacks on our consulate to avoid admitting it was a terrorist attack. From the segment:

HANNITY: Wasn't that part of the whole spin, that it had to do with the movie trailer? Well, that's a convenient excuse, considering the movie trailer was released back in July. So it's a convenient excuse. It gets them off the hook. Now they had to admit, because the evidence has been overwhelming and incontrovertible -- granted, our media in this country, they don't do their job. So now there's some culpability here. And I think there's some fair questions. [Fox News, Hannity, 9/17/12, via Media Matters]

FACT: Admin. Launched An Investigation Into The Attacks, Saying It Was Avoiding Speculation ...

Press Secretary Jay Carney: "It Is Too Early For Us" To Speculate On Nature Of Attacks Under Investigation. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters the day after the consulate attack in Libya that the violence was "under investigation," and that he wanted to avoid "making statements that are based on speculation." From Carney's statements:

CARNEY: It's too early for us to make that judgment [that the Benghazi attacks were planned and premeditated]. I think -- I know that this is being investigated, and we're working with the Libyan government to investigate the incident. So I would not want to speculate on that at this time.


I want to be careful about making statements that are based on speculation about this incident and its causes. It's under investigation, obviously, and as we find out information that can be made available I'm sure we will. [White House Press Briefing, 9/12/12]

Ambassador Rice: FBI Investigation "Will Tell Us With Certainty What Transpired." Appearing on ABC's This Week, Ambassador Rice stated that the FBI investigation "will tell us with certainty what transpired" in Cairo and Benghazi:

RICE: Well, Jake, first of all, it's important to know that there's an FBI investigation that has begun and will take some time to be completed. That will tell us with certainty what transpired.

But our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous -- not a premeditated -- response to what had transpired in Cairo. In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.

We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to -- or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo. And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons, weapons that as you know in -- in the wake of the revolution in Libya are -- are quite common and accessible. And it then evolved from there.

We'll wait to see exactly what the investigation finally confirms, but that's the best information we have at present. [ABC, This Week, via Media Matters, 9/17/12]

... And Never Foreclosed The Possibility Of Terrorism While Conducting The Inquiry

AP: The Obama Administration "Is Investigating Whether The Assault On The U.S. Consulate In Libya Was A Planned Terrorist Attack." Within 48 hours of the attack on our Libyan consulate, the Obama administration launched an investigation into whether the violence was a result of terrorism. From The Associated Press:

The Obama administration, roiled by the first killing of a U.S. ambassador in more than 30 years, is investigating whether the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Libya was a planned terrorist strike to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and not a spontaneous mob enraged over an anti-Islam YouTube video. [The Associated Press, 9/13/12]

Obama on Benghazi: "No Acts Of Terror Will Ever Shake The Resolve Of This Great Nation." Speaking from the White House rose garden the day after the attack in Benghazi, President Obama said:

OBAMA: No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done. [The White House, 9/12/12]

Obama Admin. Ultimately Called The Attacks Terrorism, But Investigations Are Ongoing ...

Director Of National Counterterrorism Center: Terrorists May Have Seized Opportunity Of Anti-Islam Film Protests For This "Terrorist Attack." Testifying at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, director of national counterterrorism Matt Olsen told the lawmakers the attack was terrorism, but the investigation is still ongoing to determine whether it was preplanned. From the Foreign Policy blog The Cable:

"I would say yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy," Matt Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said Wednesday at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, in response to questioning from Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT) about the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.


The U.S. government just isn't sure yet whether the terrorist attack was pre-planned or whether it was an example of terrorists taking advantage of protests against an anti-Islam film, Olsen said.

"It appears that individuals who were certainly well-armed seized on the opportunity presented as the events unfolded that evening and into the morning hours of September 12th. We do know that a number of militants in the area, as I mentioned, are well-armed and maintain those arms. What we don't have at this point is specific intelligence that there was a significant advanced planning or coordination for this attack," he said. [The Cable, Foreign Policy, 9/19/12]

Press Secretary Carney: It Is "Self-Evident That What Happened In Benghazi Was A Terrorist Attack." Press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that as of September 20, intelligence still did not point to a "significantly preplanned attack." From Carney's press gaggle:

CARNEY: It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.  Our embassy was attacked violently, and the result was four deaths of American officials.  So, again, that's self-evident.  I would point you to a couple of things that Mr. Olsen said, which is that at this point it appears that a number of different elements were involved in the attack, including individuals connected to militant groups that are prevalent in Eastern Libya.

He also made clear that at this point, based on the information he has -- and he is briefing the Hill on the most up-to-date intelligence -- we have no information at this point that suggests that this was a significantly preplanned attack, but this was the result of opportunism, taking advantage of and exploiting what was happening as a result of reaction to the video that was found to be offensive. [White House Press Briefing, 9/20/12]

... And Media Report Anti-Islam Film Was Root Of Middle East Protests

BBC: Anti-Islam Film Was Root Of Broader Protests In The Middle East. The BBC reported on September 21 that "[f]resh protests are under way in Muslim countries against an anti-Islam film made in the US." The article continued:

In Cairo, where the protests against the film began, Egyptian security forces are patrolling the streets around the US embassy.

Radical Islamists have clashed with security forces there in recent days, although President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood has stayed away from the unrest, only condemning the film and calling for peaceful demonstrations.

The low-budget film that sparked the controversy was made in the US and is said to insult the Prophet Muhammad.

Its exact origins are unclear and the alleged producer for the trailer of the film, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is in hiding.

Anti-US sentiment grew after a trailer for the film dubbed into Arabic was released on YouTube earlier this month. [BBC, 9/21/12]

MYTH: Marines At Cairo Embassy Were Barred From Carrying Live Ammunition

Breitbart: "State Dept. Denied Marines From Carrying Live Ammo At Cairo Embassy." hyped a rumor that Marines were forbidden from carrying live ammunition at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, asking, "Did the State Department ban Marines from carrying ammo at the U.S embassy in Cairo? That's what some are reporting, as well as claiming our Ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, had forbidden it." [Big Peace,, 9/13/12]

Fox Guest Bob Maginnis: "Supposedly ... The Ambassador Told The Marines Not To Take Live Ammunition Out Into The Yard." Appearing on Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight to discuss security at U.S. embassies and consulates in the Middle East, retired Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis told Lou Dobbs:

MAGINNIS: [N]ext door, in Cairo, supposedly Ann -- I forget her last name -- Patterson, the ambassador told the Marines not to take live ammunition out into the yard when they were trying to repel the people who were trying to get over the fence. That sort of thinking is dumb in this part of the world. You know, you're asking for it. You know, just think what, you know, could happen just about anywhere in the world if we put out the word that our Marines are not there ready to kill if you come across the line, if you try to kill the ambassador. It doesn't make any sense. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 9/13/12]

FACT: Marine Corps Called Rumor Of A Live-Ammo Ban "Not Accurate"

U.S. Marine Corps: Rumor Of A Live-Ammo Ban Is "Not Accurate." From the U.S. Marine Corps congressional liaison's memo dismissing the gossip:

The Ambassador did not impose restrictions on weapons or weapons status on the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group (MCESG) detachment.  The MCESG Marines in Cairo were allowed to have live ammunition in their weapons.  The Ambassador and Regional Security Officer have been completely and appropriately engaged with the security situation. Reports of Marines not being able to have their weapons loaded per direction from the Ambassador are not accurate. [U.S. Marine Corps memo, via Mother Jones, 9/13/12]

State Department Regulations: An Ambassador Could Not Have Banned Marines From Carrying Live Ammo In The Event Of An Attack. State Department regulations dictate that Marines cannot be given an order that would "jeopardize the safety or well-being of any Marine." From the State Department's manual on diplomatic security:

The [Regional Security Officer, or] RSO, with the approval of the chief of mission or principal officer, may assign duties other than those previously described in this section to the Marines as may be required by urgent or security-related circumstances requiring immediate action.  Such duties shall not contravene established Department or Marine Corps policy and shall not unduly jeopardize the safety or well-being of any Marine. [U.S. Dept. of State Foreign Affairs Manual Vol. 12 -- Diplomatic Security, accessed 9/24/12]

MYTH: Obama Called Killings In Libya "Just A Bump In The Road"

Hannity: Obama Called "Vicious Murder Of Four Americans ... Just A Bump In The Road." On his Fox News show, Sean Hannity said: "[T]he commander-in-chief had the nerve to liken this terrorist attack and the vicious murder of four Americans -- what he calls it, just a bump in the road." Hannity then showed video that omitted Obama's comments on aligning with democratic movements in the Middle East. He continued: "Now a U.S. ambassador, two Navy SEALs, and another American are assassinated: he calls it a bump in the road?" [Fox News, Hannity, 9/24/12, via Media Matters]

Krauthammer: Media Would Go Crazy "If Romney Had Said The Death Of Our Ambassador ... Is A Bump In The Road." On Special Report, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer claimed that Obama said "the death of our ambassador" and "the death of three other Americans" "is a bump in the road." [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 9/24/12, via Media Matters]

Fox's Kilmeade: When Obama "Talked About ... The Killings In Libya, He Called It Bumps In The Road." Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade also claimed that Obama called the deaths of Americans "bumps in the road" during his 60 Minutes interview. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/25/12, via Media Matters]

FACT: Obama Was Talking About Transitions For Newly Elected Governments, Not Deaths From Attacks

Obama Said New Governments May Have "Bumps In The Road" In Transition To Democracy. From President Obama's 60 Minutes interview:

KROFT: Have the events that took place in the Middle East, the recent events in the Middle East given you any pause about your support for the governments that have come to power following the Arab Spring?

OBAMA: Well, I'd said even at the time that this is going to be a rocky path. The question presumes that somehow we could have stopped this wave of change. I think it was absolutely the right thing for us to do to align ourselves with democracy, universal rights, a notion that people have to be able to participate in their own governance. But I was pretty certain and continue to be pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road because, you know, in a lot of these places, the one organizing principle has been Islam. The one part of society that hasn't been controlled completely by the government.

There are strains of extremism, and anti-Americanism, and anti-Western sentiment. And, you know, can be tapped into by demagogues. There will probably be some times where we bump up against some of these countries and have strong disagreements, but I do think that over the long term we are more likely to get a Middle East and North Africa that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more aligned with our interests. [, 9/23/12]

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