Ex-CIA director says attack on Libya's US consulate was 'terrorist act'

Last Updated: Sat, Nov 17, 2012 06:51 hrs

Former CIA director David Petraeus has said that the September 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Libya, which killed four American diplomats, was clearly an act of terrorism.

Several members of the House and Senate intelligence committees who heard Petraeus's testimony said that he indicated he believed immediately after the incident that it was a terrorist attack.

According to the Washington Post, that appeared to conflict with testimony he gave them three days after the attack, when he said it appeared to have begun as a "spontaneous" assault that was overtaken by "extremists."

The Journal said that according to the accounts provided by intelligence officials , the CIA concluded early on that Benghazi was a terrorist attack by definition, because any assault on a U.S. government installation with heavy weapons and substantial firepower could not be classified otherwise.

The timing of the CIA's conclusion has become a contentious issue in the US Congress, where some prominent Republicans have charged that Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, knowingly presented a whitewashed account in television appearances on September 16.

Rice said that the attack began as a protest against an anti-Islamic video that was privately produced in the United States and was hijacked by "opportunistic extremist elements." (ANI)

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