The nation’s top intelligence agency on Friday took responsibility for the Obama administration’s initial claims that the deadly assault on the U.S. consulate in Libya grew from a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islam video.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said that the attack occurred when extremists from groups linked to al-Qaida struck the building in Benghazi in a “deliberate and organized terrorist attack,” McClatchy
“In the immediate aftermath (of the assault), there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo,” spokesman Sean Turner said in the statement. “We provided that initial assessment to executive branch officials and members of Congress, who used that information to discuss the attack publicly.”
Besides updating the public on the incident, the statement sought to protect the Obama administration from attacks over its original accounts, McClatchy reports.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence coordinates and sets policies for the 16 other U.S. intelligence agencies. It is led by retired Air Force Gen. James Clapper, who was appointed by President Obama in August 2010.
The U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans were killed in the Sept. 11 assault.
Republicans presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other GOP legislators have accused the White House of misleading the country about the nature of the attack to protect the Obama campaign’s claim that his policies have hurt al-Qaida’s ability to launch attacks and eased anti-U.S. hatred in the Muslim world.
But the statement did not quell the furor.
GOP New York Rep. Peter King called for the resignation of Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who was the first senior official to detail the administration’s initial account that the attack. was spontaneous during appearances on Sunday morning television talk shows.
Rice “was the vehicle by which they transmitted this misleading message to the American people and the world,” King told CNN.
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