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Obama Administration Admits That Benghazi Attack Was a Terrorist Attack?

The Obama Administration seems to be changing its official story on the attack on our Benghazi Consulate:

The Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was in fact “a terrorist attack” and the U.S. government has indications that members of al Qaeda were directly involved, a top Obama administration official said Wednesday morning.

“I would say yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy,” Matt Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said Wednesday at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, in response to questioning from Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT) about the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

As for who was responsible, Olsen said it appears there were attackers from a number of different militant groups that operate in and around Benghazi, and said there are already signs of al Qaeda involvement.

“We are looking at indications that individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to al Qaeda or al Qaeda’s affiliates; in particular, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,” he said.

The U.S. government just isn’t sure yet whether the terrorist attack was pre-planned or whether it was an example of terrorists taking advantage of protests against an anti-Islam film, Olsen said.

“It appears that individuals who were certainly well-armed seized on the opportunity presented as the events unfolded that evening and into the morning hours of September 12th. We do know that a number of militants in the area, as I mentioned, are well-armed and maintain those arms. What we don’t have at this point is specific intelligence that there was a significant advanced planning or coordination for this attack,” he said.

Now, was that so hard?

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. wr says:

    Information comes to light, it’s checked out and proves good, and the administration changes they analysis based on this new information.

    Astonishing. It’s almost as if the entire administration is being run by adults.

    Better get Team Romney in there pronto!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  2. And they spent a week insisting it was a “spontaneous” attack that was all about a movie.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  3. David says:

    Insisting might be a tad strong. The default position appears to be that unless there is concrete evidence to the contrary, we are not going to yell terrorism every time something happens. In this case, investigation provided the evidence and the incident was classified as a terrorist incident. What seems to be the problem?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  4. legion says:

    @Doug Mataconis: And until the information suggesting otherwise got to the people making public statements, that was a fairly reasonable thing to say. Would you rather the White House came out guns a-blazin’, telling everyone that they better watch out, ’cause Yobamity Sam was a’comin to town? Let’s face it, Doug – if Romney were in charge we would either a) still be reloading the Tomahawk missile launchers we just used to slaughter tens of thousands of Libyan civilians or b) he would have fired the NTC director for contradicting him. Either way, the Obama administration is continuing to handle the situation in a rational and professional manner.

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  5. walt moffett says:

    @legion:

    Seems to me, the rational, professional initial response should have been, “the matter is under investigation at this time and I refuse to speculate about motive”, followed by verbiage about the duty of host nations for diplomatic protection, crack investigative team en route, while neither confirming or denying an amphibious ready group is on the way and a reference to the right of free speech.

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  6. Herb says:

    @walt moffett: That may be the perfect response, Walt, but this is not a perfect world. I think it’s pretty clear from the response, that the administration was treating this like a terrorist attack, even if they weren’t saying so to the Sunday interview shows.

    I think it’s useful to remember that Romney’s initial response was to point fingers at Obama.

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  7. Jeremy R. says:

    @walt moffett:

    Seems to me, the rational, professional initial response should have been, “the matter is under investigation at this time

    That is what they said. Susan Rice repeatedly stressed she was communicating the current consensus of U.S. intelligence, as of that day, and that we’d need to wait on the FBI investigation for greater clarity. GOP Intelligence Committee Chair agreed that was what U.S. intelligence was telling us, but personally expressed his own doubts. President Obama called the murderers “terrorists” himself, so that wasn’t new from Matt Olsen. And finally Olsen said, “It appears that individuals who were certainly well-armed seized on the opportunity presented as the events unfolded that evening and into the morning hours of September 12th.

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