President Obama believes the violence in Libya was a terrorist attack, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters today, the first explicit acknowledgement of the president's view on the nature of the attack.
"It is certainly the case that it is our view as an administration, it is the presidents view, that it was a terrorist attack," Carney said during a gaggle with reporters aboard Air Force One Wednesday morning.
His administration's view for about a week has in fact been that the attack was an act of terrorism, but the president himself has refrained from characterizing it as such, even when asked point-blank about it during an interview that aired Tuesday on ABC's "The View."
Asked by co-host Barbara Walters whether the attack was terrorism, the president responded, "There's no doubt that the kind of weapons that were used, the ongoing assault, that it wasn't just a mob action."
And during his remarks at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday the president referred to the deadly Benghazi consulate attack as an “assault on America” but stopped short of calling it terrorism.
The president’s seeming reluctance to use the term “terrorism” was further highlighted by comments Libyan President Mohammed Magarief made to NBC’s Ann Curry during an interview that aired Thursday.
Magarief did not back down from labeling the attack as terrorism even while trying to walk a fine line.
“This is how I am calling it as…a Libyan official," he said. "But it is for President Obama, Secretary Clinton to describe the way they like and they feel right. I mean, you have your terminology. And we have our terminology. It's an act of terror."
Magarief also contradicted the White House and other administration officials on the nature of the attack saying that outrage over a controversial movie about the prophet Muhammad had “nothing to do with this attack.”
Today Carney repeated that the investigation into the Benghazi attack was “ongoing.” He continued that the administration has provided information “Not based on speculation, but based on what we know.”