US President Barack Obama denounced Monday as a
"sideshow" the focus by congressional Republicans on memos they say
show that his administration attempted to downplay the terrorist
nature of the September attack on the US consulate in Libya.
"The whole thing defies logic," Obama said at a press conference, alleging that the review of the documents had "political motivations" and little to do with the administration's response to the killings of the US ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi.
"We dishonour them when we turn things like this into a political circus," he said. "What happened was tragic. It was carried out by extremists inside of Libya. We are out there trying to hunt down the folks who carried this out, and we're trying to make sure that we fix the system so that it doesn't happen again."
A series of memos leaked last week showed extensive edits to talking points that were then used by UN Ambassador Susan Rice to discuss the attacks on television. She has been criticized for providing a faulty explanation of the attack.
The White House maintained the talking points used by Rice were compiled by the intelligence community to reflect the understanding to the attacks at that time, but the memos made public Friday showed greater involvement by the White House and State Department than spokesman Jay Carney had acknowledged.
during a congressional hearing last week, opposition Republicans pressed for more information about the Benghazi attacks.
Rice had become the face of the Obama administration on television after the Benghazi attacks, saying the deaths were the result of a riotous spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Muslim internet video and not a terrorist act.
The Obama administration has since stressed that the incident was a terrorist attack with no demonstration in Benghazi related to the video, and that Obama himself had referred to an "act of terror" on the day of the attack.
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