65° Good Morning
65° Good Morning

Obama calls for embassy security funding

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama Thursday tried to turn the tables on Republicans who have criticized his administration's response to last year's deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, calling on lawmakers to increase funding for diplomatic security.

Obama's call was the second White House step in as many days designed to combat GOP charges that his administration misled Americans about the circumstances of the attack, playing down the terrorist strike that killed four Americans amid the presidential race.

Obama has angrily rejected those claims and now is seeking to turn the debate toward improving embassy security.

"I want to say to members of Congress in both parties, we need to come together and truly honor the sacrifice of those four courageous Americans and better secure our diplomatic posts around the world," Obama said at a news conference. "That's how we learn the lessons of Benghazi."

The State Department is seeking about $1.4 billion for increased security. The money would come primarily from funds that haven't been spent in Iraq.

Since the Sept. 11, 2012, attack, Democrats have complained that Republicans cut $300 million from the administration's budget request of $2.6 billion for diplomatic and embassy security in 2012.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Congress provided extra security funding in legislation passed this spring. "It is better management that is required now," the spokesman, Brendan Buck, said.

Obama also said that his administration is increasing intelligence and warning capabilities to secure diplomats and that he has directed the Pentagon to ensure that the military "can respond lightning-quick in times of crisis."

On Wednesday, the White House, under pressure from Republicans in Congress, released emails and handwritten edits showing the interagency debate over the post-attack talking points. The emails show that White House staff only requested minor edits, but the State Department repeatedly asked for cuts of details that could be used to criticize them.

News Photos and Videos