WASHINGTON (AP) — Here is a timeline of comments by the administration and Libyan officials on what they believed happened in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, beginning the night of the assault and continuing through September.
Republicans have criticized the administration for its description of the attack, suggesting they insisted it was a protest over a film that insulted the Prophet Muhammad because acknowledging it was a terror attack would have affected the presidential campaign. The administration says it gave out the information it had, as it became available, and has strongly objected to the accusation that its messaging was politically motivated.
Sept. 11, 2012:
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in a statement on the attack on Benghazi, notes that "some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet."
From the Rose Garden, President Barack Obama calls Benghazi an "outrageous and shocking attack." He says the U.S. rejects efforts to denigrate religious beliefs of others, but that there is no justification "to this type of senseless violence." He adds that "no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation..."
Later, at a campaign event in Las Vegas, Obama sends a message to "anybody who would do us harm: No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America."
Clinton, in a statement, condemns what she calls a "vicious and violent attack." She says later, "This was an attack by a small and savage group — not the people or Government of Libya." She says that "as long as there are those who would take innocent life in the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace."
At a campaign event in Colorado, Obama again says, "To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished."
In Washington, Clinton addresses the "video circulating on the Internet that has led to these protests in a number of countries." She later returns to the "small and savage group in Benghazi" and says again "some seek to justify this behavior as a response to inflammatory, despicable material posted on the Internet."
In Libya, Wanis el-Sharef, then eastern Libya's deputy interior minister, said the attacks were suspected to have been timed to mark the 9/11 anniversary and that the militants used civilians protesting an anti-Islam film as cover for their action. Infiltrators within the security forces may have tipped off militants to the safe house location, he said.
At the repatriation ceremony for the victims of the attacks, Clinton calls Benghazi a "heavy assault" and adds: "We've seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing to do with."
In his weekly address, Obama stresses that the U.S. "has a profound respect for people of all faiths" and rejects the denigration of Islam. "Yet there is never any justification for violence," he says. "There is no excuse for attacks on our embassies and consulates."