White House: Obama, Biden Weren’t Told About Libya Security Requests

Joe Biden turned heads in the foreign policy community in Thursday’s debate when, asked about security failures that led to the Libya attack, he replied “We weren’t told they wanted more security.” Security officials testified to Congress this week that they had requested a stay for some security officers but were denied by the State Department. 

Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications Ben Rhodes told Foreign Policy that Biden was referring specifically to he and President Obama alone:

The Cable asked Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications Ben Rhodes whether Biden was speaking for the entire Obama administration, including the State Department, which acknowledged receiving multiple requests for more Libya security in the months before the attacks. Rhodes said that Biden speaks only for himself and the president and neither of them knew about the requests at the time.

The State Department security officials who testified before House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa‘s panel Wednesday never said they had made their requests to the president, Rhodes pointed out. That would be natural because the State Department is responsible for diplomatic security, not the White House, he said. Rhodes also pointed out that the officials were requesting more security in Tripoli, not Benghazi.

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