PUBLISHED:08:55 EST, 24 September 2012| UPDATED:09:59 EST, 24 September 2012
President Barack Obama referred to recent events in the Middle East, including violent attacks on embassies and the terrorist murder of a US ambassador and three other Americans, as ‘bumps in the road’.
The comment came in Obama’s CBS ’60 Minutes’ interview that aired on Sunday night.
Steve Kroft, the interviewer, asked: ‘Have the events that took place in the Middle East, the recent events in the Middle East given you any pause about your support for the governments that have come to power following the Arab Spring?
Obama responded: ‘Well, I’d said even at the time that this is going to be a rocky path. The question presumes that somehow we could have stopped this wave of change.
Bumps in the road: The President said the killing of ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya was some of the ‘bumps in the road’ along the ‘rocky path’ to Middle Eastern peace
Ambassador Chris Stevens died of apparent asphyxiation at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi after an attack launched under the cover of a demonstration against a crude, low-budget anti-Islam movie mad ein California.
Sean Smith, another diplomat, and former U.S. Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were also killed.
Republicans leapt on Obama’s ‘bumps in the road’ comment. Ari Fleischer, former press secretary to President George W. Bush said on Twitter: ‘I guess when u win a Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing “an attack that kills an Ambassador is just a ‘bump in the road.’
The Obama administration initially insisted the attack was a spontaneous result of anger about the movie and had nothing to do with al-Qaeda or U.S. policy in the region.
After the head of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Centre told Congress the attack was terrorism, Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney then stated: ‘It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.
‘Our embassy was attacked violently and the result was four deaths of American officials.’
On the same day as the five-hour Benghazi consulate attack, in which RPGs and mortars were used, the U.S. embassy in Cairo was targeted by a mob that tore down the American flag and replaced it with a black Islamic flag.
There were also attacks on U.S. missions in Tunis, Sana’a, Khartoum and Islamabad.
Stevens, the first U.S. ambassador to be murdered since 1979, was a fluent Arabic and French speaker widely viewed as one of the greatest American diplomatic assets in the region.
A diary written by Stevens and obtained by CNN after being found in the wreckage of the Benghazi consulate revealed that he had been concerned about security threats in the city and a rise in Islamic extremism.
A White House official firmly rejecetd this, telling ABC News: ‘It’s just not true that he was characterising the attack in Benghazi – the question doesn’t even make mention of it. He’s speaking about broad trends.’
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