Sep 27, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
(ABC NEWS) Even before Defense Secretary Leon Panetta contradicted the initial story about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, today, Obama administration officials told ABC News they were concerned after the White House began pushing the line that the attack was spontaneous and not the work of terrorists.
Events were too uncertain, and suspicions had been aroused, officials said.
Panetta today said that the attack that killed four Americans on the anniversary of 9/11 was not only carried out by terrorists — it was pre-meditated.
“As we determined the details of what took place there and how that attack took place,” Panetta told reporters, “it became clear that there were terrorists who had planned that attack.”
The White House first suggested the attack was spontaneous — the result of an anti-Muslim video that incited mobs throughout the region.
“Let’s be clear, these protests were in reaction to a video that had spread to the region,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said on September 14.
When ABC News pressed Carney on whether that included the Benghazi attack, in which U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American men were killed, Carney said, “we certainly don’t know. We don’t know otherwise. We have no information to suggest that it was a preplanned attack.” On THIS WEEK on September 16, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said, “our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous – not a premeditated – response to what had transpired in Cairo. In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.
We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to – or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo. 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… And it then evolved from there.”