The president’s articulation in August of a “red line” with regard to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons in Syria was “deliberate,” according to White House press secretary Jay Carney. The White House press secretary was responding to a New York Times report that surfaced over the weekend quoting several Obama advisers who said the president’s remark was unscripted and that, in retrospect, they wish they could take it back.
Carney reiterated that the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime constitutes a red line, as does the proliferation and transfer of those weapons, but was careful not to commit the administration to any particular action in Syria. “What the president never did was say ‘If X happens, Y will happen,’” Carney explained, telling reporters that as the administration weighs its options in the region, the use of chemical weapons is not the only “deciding factor.”
The White House spokesman also defended the administration and the State Department against accusations that its response to the Benghazi scandal was inadequate – in particular, that the investigation conducted by the Accountability Review Board, which is itself now the subject of a special investigation, did not get to the heart of what happened on 9/11/12.
The panel responsible for producing that report, Carney responded, was “chaired by some of the most distinguished experts in our national-security establishment,” calling its conclusions “unsparing.” The board found that the “inadequate” security at the diplomatic facility in Benghazi was to blame for what it called ”systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels” in the State Department — but levels below that of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
At a House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday, whistleblowers are set to testify that a Special Forces unit was ordered not to intervene as Americans came under fire and that the administration knowingly misled the public about the nature of the attack.