Crowley covers Obama’s fudged facts

As predicted, during his second presidential debate with Mitt Romney, President Obama repeated several claims he has made on the stump, even though they had already been reviewed by us (and others) and pronounced:


Perhaps the most brazen example was the president’s claim that “We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years. Natural gas production is the highest it’s been in decades.” Romney responded that “the president’s right in terms of the additional oil production, but none of it came on federal land. As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent.”

Perhaps Governor Romney reads the Debunker?

As this column reported eight months ago, “While it’s true that U.S. oil and natural gas production are up, this is not thanks to, but in spite of Obama. All the increased production has come from state and private lands, where the President has little power. On federal lands controlled by Obama, production has actually fallen.

“According to an Institute for Energy Research analysis of data from the Interior Department’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue, production of oil increased 14 percent and natural gas 12 percent on private and state lands in Fiscal Year 2011, while on federal lands, production of oil declined 11 percent and natural gas 6 percent.”

The increase from 12 to 14 percent in the decline of oil production, and from 6 to 9 percent in the decline in natural gas production is because Romney is citing a Department of Energy report released since that column was published.

But Obama’s biggest whopper was a new one, so colossal that we could never have anticipated it.

Responding to a question about the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Romney highlighted Obama’s reluctance to use the word “terrorist,” and his administration’s repeated attempts to portray the attack as connected to a spontaneous protest over a Youtube video.

“There were many days that passed before we knew whether this was a spontaneous demonstration, or actually whether it was a terrorist attack,” said Romney. “And there was no demonstration involved. It was a terrorist attack and it took a long time for that to be told to the American people …. [Y]ou have to ask yourself why didn’t we know five days later when the ambassador to the United Nations went on TV to say that this was a demonstration. How could we have not known?”

Obama replied, “The day after the attack … I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that … this was an act of terror ….”

Romney asked a yes-or-no question: “It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying?” Obama dodged until Crowley deflected the question, interrupting to say that Obama “did in fact … call it an act of terror…

Obama said, “Get the transcripts,” and Crowley repeated, “…the transcripts…” Let us therefore turn to the transcript of Obama’s Rose Garden speech of September 12.

Obama did mention “acts [plural] of terror” – but this followed references to “the 9/11 attacks” and “troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan” where terrorists have used improvised explosive devices to kill U.S. forces as well as civilians. Was this ambiguous reference to “acts of terror” the same as labeling the Benghazi attack itself “terrorism”? Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler, answers: “From our many years of covering diplomacy we would say there is a world of difference, but readers can draw their own conclusions.”

Perhaps more important, Obama had prefaced these remarks with the statement, “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others” – implying that the attack was actually provoked by the anti-Islamic video. The administration would repeat this implication more forcefully over the ensuing 13 days, culminating in President Obama’s September 25 address at the United Nations.

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