With anti-American demonstrations exploding across the Muslim world, the White House is insisting that the deadly attack on U.S. diplomats in Libya and violent protests targeting U.S. facilities in Egypt and several other countries are entirely the result of an anti-Islamic video on YouTube.
“This is a fairly volatile situation and it is in response not to United States policy, not to obviously the administration, not to the American people,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday. “It is in response to a video, a film that we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting. That in no way justifies any violent reaction to it, but this is not a case of protests directed at the United States writ large or at U.S. policy. This is in response to a video that is offensive to Muslims.”
Questioned at length about the causes of the anti-American violence, Carney insisted it was all about the movie. “The reason why there is unrest is because of the film,” he said at one point. “This is in response to the film.” At another moment, he said, “The cause of the unrest was a video.” At yet another, “These protests were in reaction to a video that had spread to the region.”
Despite Carney’s confident assertions, it became clear in the briefing that the administration does not really know that the most serious incident by far, the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others, was in fact the result of the video. (And it’s not at all clear that a full-length version of the film actually exists.) When ABC’s Jake Tapper pressed Carney on whether the Benghazi attack specifically was sparked by the movie, Carney responded, “We don’t know otherwise.”