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Carney On Libya Attack: "I Never Said We Don't Know If It's Terrorism"

Ed Henry of Fox News asks White House press secretary Jay Carney why the the Obama administration said that the attacks on the consulate in Libya were not terrorism for so long?

Just as recently as September 20, at a Univision presidential forum, President Obama said "we don't know" if it was a terrorist attack.

Ed Henry, FOX News: You've been citing Undersecretary Kennedy and what he said in public today. Congressional sources have said that on September 12, the day after the attacks, Undersecretary Kennedy did a conference call with Congressional staffers and others, the day after the attacks, and said then this was not a protest, this was not a spontaneous reaction to the anti-Muslim video, that this was a coordinated attack. And so my question is, that was four days before Ambassador Rice went out on television, five shows, and said that we believe it is reaction. Did she, did you and others mislead the public because you didn't want to admit there was a terror attack?

Jay Carney, White House: Absolutely not. The president of the United States referred to it as an attack of terror immediately after it occurred, Ed, as you know. Two, Pat Kennedy, the Undersecretary of State for management is testifying in public today. So I would look to what he says before your cameras and the American people rather than what Congressional sources, whoever they may be, are telling you.

Henry: If you're saying that on September 12 the President called it terrorism, he used the phrase, 'an act of terror.' Then why were you at this podium for several days after that saying we don't know if it's terrorism?

Carney: I never said that. I never said we don't know if it's terrorism. There is an issue about the definition of terrorism. This is the definition: an act of terror. As the president made clear. What we were talking about is-

Henry: On September 12, the President believed this was terrorism?

Carney: He said, “it was an act of terror,” Ed. It was clearly, definitionally, if you look at the definition of terrorism, an act of terror. An assault with arms on a diplomatic -

Henry: We asked you for several days after that. You kept saying, “we don’t know.”

Carney: Check the transcript. The issue was, what led to the attack. And that has been an issue that we have provided assessments of based on the information that we have gleaned from the intelligence community - preliminary information - and we have made clear all along, as Ambassador Rice has made clear - the clips, the parts of these clips that I’m sure don’t always appear on some air, where she makes sure on September 15 that these were preliminary assessments based on preliminary information.

Henry: The President said it was terror?

Carney: You’re making a distinction between an act of terror and what led to the attack. An assault with violence and force and weapons against a diplomatic facility is, by definition, an act of terror.

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