Timeline of comments on attack on US Consulate
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, goes on morning shows at NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX and CNN. Based on the administration's best information, she says, the Benghazi attack was a "spontaneous — not a premeditated — response" to the anti-video protests in Cairo. A small number of protesters came to the consulate "and then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons," she said. Rice called the attack a "direct result of a heinous and offensive video that was widely disseminated, that the U.S. government had nothing to do with." She said the U.S. had no information at the time "that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned."
In Libya, interim President Mohammed el-Megarif said: "It was planned, definitely. It was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago. And they were planning this criminal act since their arrival."
Clinton says U.S. and Libya are working closely together to bring to justice those who "murdered" the four Americas in Benghazi. She notes that in a number of places where protests have turned violent, "we are seeing the hand of extremists who are trying to exploit people's inflamed passions for their own agendas." She cites Clapper's assessment that the U.S. had no actionable intelligence that an attack in Benghazi was planned or imminent.
Matthew Olsen, the national counterterrorism center director, tells the Senate committee on homeland security and government affairs that the Benghazi events were a "terrorist attack."
At a town hall event in Miami, Obama says what we've seen over the last week-and-a-half "is an offensive video or cartoon directed at the prophet Muhammad. And this is obviously something that then is used as an excuse by some to carry out inexcusable violent acts directed at Westerners or Americans." He says the U.S. is investigating, and that the circumstances differ in each country. But, he adds, "What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests."
Clinton calls Benghazi a "terrorist attack."
At a U.N. event focusing on Africa's Sahel region, Clinton says al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and other groups "have launched attacks and kidnappings from northern Mali into neighboring countries." She says terrorists are "working with other violent extremists to undermine the democratic transitions underway in North Africa, as we tragically saw in Benghazi."
Obama administration officials defend their response to the attack amid new claims that the White House failed to send help quickly enough as militants overran the mission.
In response to a report alleging that security officers working for the CIA in Benghazi heard the attack but were twice told to wait before rushing to the compound, CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood says the CIA "reacted quickly to aid our colleagues during that terrible evening in Benghazi."
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