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White House: 'Self-Evident' Attack On Consulate 'Was A Terrorist Attack'

The Obama administration continued walking a fine line today when describing the attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

"It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack," White House spokesman Jay Carney said aboard Air Force One, according to Reuters. "Our embassy was attacked violently and the result was four deaths of American officials. So, again, that's self-evident."

But Carney — just like Matt Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, before him — stopped short of saying the attacks were planned in advance.

NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reported this morning, Olsen was grilled on the issue yesterday on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, told him bluntly that she believed the attack wasn't an impromptu reaction to an anti-Islam film, but a "premeditated, planned attack that was associated with the anniversary of 9/11."

This matters, Dina reported, because if the attack was premeditated "it means the U.S. should or could have stopped it."

Shortly after Carney made those comments, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that she had formed an "accountability review board" to investigate the attack.

Reuters reports:

"Clinton told reporters that the panel would be chaired by Thomas Pickering, a highly regarded retired U.S. diplomat who served as ambassador to Russia, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, Jordan and at the U.S. Mission at the United Nations."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.