By Matthew Continetti
President Obama strode to the lectern in the Rose Garden Thursday to announce a “historic” agreement between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. The preliminary deal made in Lausanne, Switzerland, the president said, “cuts off every pathway Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.” I hope he’s right.
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But I’m not counting on it. The president has a terrible record of initial public pronouncements on national security. He has a habit of confidently stating things that turn out not to be true. Three times in the last four years he has appeared in the Rose Garden and made assertions that were later proven to be false. He and his national security team have again and again described a world that does not correspond to reality. No reason to assume these concessions to Iran will be any different.
The U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked on September 11, 2012. Four Americans were killed, including our ambassador. Obama delivered remarks on the attack in the Rose Garden the following day. “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation,” he said. What he didn’t say was that the killings in Benghazi specifically were a “terrorist attack” or “terrorism.” On 60 Minutes, when asked if he believed Benghazi was a “terrorist attack,” the president replied, “It’s too early to know how this came about.” On September 14, neither the president nor Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called what had happened a terrorist attack. On September 15, Obama referred to Benghazi as a “tragic attack.” On September 16, Susan Rice, then U.N. ambassador, called it a “spontaneous attack.”
By September 24, when Obama recorded a campaign interview with The View, he again refused to say Benghazi was an attack by terrorists. “We’re still doing an investigation,” he told Joy Behar. It was not until two days later that administration officials began referring to Benghazi as a terrorist attack—something the Libyan government had been saying since September 13.