Congresswoman declines Benghazi question because ‘we’re here to talk about the Middle East’

December 10, 2013

A Democratic congresswoman declined to address questions about the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, at a recent town hall meeting, but didn't offer a very good excuse.

According to a video of the town hall, Rep. Ann Kuster (D-N.H.) said she wouldn't answer Benghazi questions because the topic was the Middle East.

"I’m certainly not here to talk about it," Kuster said. "We’re here to talk about the Middle East.”

Kuster's comments were first reported by Townhall.com.

Libya, which is in northern Africa, was considered part of the Middle East in the Eisenhower Doctrine of 1957, which sought to undercut the influence of communism in the region through economic and military aid.

Not all contemporary definitions of the Middle East include Libya (most include its neighbor to the east, Egypt, but not necessarily Libya), but the Libyan civil war is generally spoken about in the broader context of conflicts in the Middle East and the Arab Spring.

Republicans continue to press for answers about what happened on Sept. 11, 2012, in Benghazi, arguing that the Obama administration hasn't been forthcoming about the sequence of events that led to the tragedy.

Update 12:54 p.m.: Kuster's office acknowledges that she wasn't as clear as she should have been. It notes that she intended to talk about her most recent trip to Israel at the town hall.

It also released this statement from Kuster: “Like all Americans, I was horrified by the tragic attack on our Embassy in Benghazi that killed four patriotic Americans. Our focus must remain on finding those responsible, bringing them to justice, and taking every necessary step to prevent an attack like this from ever happening again.”

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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