Sen. Dianne Feinstein said that the conclusions reached by The New York Times in its report last month saying that al-Qaida had no role in the Benghazi attacks were wrong.
"I believe that groups loosely associated with al-Qaida were" involved in the attack, the California Democrat told The Hill
last week. "That’s my understanding."
Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, also cast doubt on whether the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, including two former Navy SEALS, was caused by a spontaneous protest to an anti-Islamic video.
"It doesn’t jibe with me," she said.
The Times' lengthy report into the assaults on Sept. 11, 2012, was published on Dec. 28.
In it, the newspaper concluded that they were led "by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against" Col. Moammar Gadhafi. "And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam."
The Times reported that its report had developed from extensive interviews with Islamists in Benghazi.
But the investigation has come under fire by Republicans as misleading, charging that the newspaper had given too much credence to assertions by militants that they had no link to al-Qaida.
Even some of those who were on the ground the night of the attacks at the U.S. Consulate in Libya have attacked the Times' report.
Criticism grew stronger
after Times reporter David Kirkpatrick wrote on Twitter that the newspaper "had a reporter on the scene talking to the attackers during the attack."
Still, a Times spokeswoman told the Hill on Tuesday that the report says groups involved were “sympathetic to al-Qaida's goals.”
"The article makes clear that the attack was led by groups sympathetic to al-Qaida's goals but states there is 'no evidence that al-Qaida or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault,'" Communications Director Danielle Rhoades Ha told the Hill in a statement.
"The article also explains that many of the attackers were motivated by anger at the American-made video denigrating Islam, which they believed was set for its debut on 9/11," she said.
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