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Clinton: Internet Claim About Libya Attack Proves Nothing

October 24, 2012

by Scott Stearns

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says an Internet claim of responsibility that followed last month's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, is not hard evidence of who killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador. The Obama administration's handling of the event has become an issue in the U.S. presidential campaign.

Within hours of the September 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, a State Department clearinghouse for publicly available information notified U.S. officials that the Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia claimed credit for the violence in posts on Facebook and Twitter.

That has raised more questions about the Obama administration's initial public assessment that the violence was linked to a protest over an Internet video defaming the Prophet Muhammad - an explanation the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations repeated five days after the attack.

Secretary Clinton says the Ansar al-Sharia Internet claim proved nothing.

"Posting something on Facebook is not in and of itself evidence, and I think it just underscores how fluid the reporting was at the time and continued for some time to be,'' he said.

Speaking to reporters at the State Department Wednesday, she said an ongoing review of those events is looking into all of the information available at the time, as well as what has been learned since.

"The independent Accountability Review Board is already hard at work looking at everything, not cherry picking one story here or one document there, but looking at everything, which I highly recommend as the appropriate approach to something as complex as an attack like this," said the secretary of state.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and some of his party's lawmakers in Congress have accused the Obama administration of misleading Americans about the violence that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.

White House press secretary Jay Carney says "there were emails about all sorts of information that was becoming available in the aftermath of the attack,'' and that U.S. intelligence officials moved to "assess strands of information and make judgments about what happened and who is responsible.''

Secretary Clinton says no one wants to get to the bottom of what happened more than the Obama administration.

"What I keep in mind is that four brave Americans were killed and we will find out what happened, we will take whatever measures are necessary to fix anything that needs to be fixed, and we will bring those to justice who committed these murders,'' she said.

It is reported that Turkey has extradited to Tunisia a suspect in the Benghazi attack, but State Department officials would not comment on whether U.S. authorities are trying to question that individual.



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