President Barack Obama’s chief re-election campaign strategist David Axelrod told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace that the State Department — not the White House — was responsible for lax security at the Benghazi embassy prior to the deadly Sept. 11 terror attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
“The White House was talking about what the White House knew,” Axelrod said, referring to Vice President Joe Biden’s statement during a debate Thursday night that “we weren’t told” personnel in Benghazi had asked for extra security measures.
“There are embassies all over the world and requests all over the world and these requests go over the the security professionals at the State Department,” Axelrod said. “And there’s no doubt that some of these matters went into the security department of the State Department. But it didn’t come to the White House, and that’s what the vice president was responding to.”
Officials in the Obama administration, including U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, initially claimed that the attack was the result of a protest occurring outside the embassy over an anti-Islam YouTube video.
When it became clear that account was inaccurate, however, the White House scrambled to blame intelligence agencies and the State Department for various oversights. (RELATED: State Dept. says Rice was completely wrong about Libya attack; White House throws Hillary under 2012 bus)
“These kinds of issues are handled in the State Department by security officials,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said during Friday’s press briefing.
Wallace reminded Axelrod about Biden’s insistence that the State Department never informed the White House that more security was necessary.
“We weren’t told they wanted more security,” Biden told moderator Martha Raddatz, contradicting several State Department officials, who recently testified under oath that they had requested more security at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. “We did not know they wanted more security.”
But Axelrod remained defiant, before pausing to emphasize Obama’s personal stake in the Benghazi incident. (RELATED: Mark Steyn says Obama administration is using ambassador’s dead body as a political ‘prop’)
“These matters were being handled by the State Department,” Axelrod repeated. “Here’s the fundamental thing: Nobody on this planet is more concerned about getting to the bottom of this than the president of the United States. … He knew Chris Stevens, he admired Chris Stevens. We want to get to the bottom of it.”