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U.S. officials probing possibility of planned attack

By Jim Kuhnhenn
Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 09:51 a.m. HST, Sep 12, 2012



WASHINGTON » U.S. officials say the Obama administration is investigating whether the assault on the U.S. consulate in Libya was a planned terrorist strike to mark the anniversary of 9/11, and not a spontaneous mob enraged over a anti-Islamic YouTube video.

Intelligence officials said the attack on the Benghazi consulate was too coordinated or professional to be spontaneous, according to a U.S. counterterrorism official.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the incident publicly.

President Barack Obama earlier vowed in a Rose Garden address that the U.S. would "work with the Libyan government to bring to justice" to those who killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American personnel. "Make no mistake. Justice will be done," he said in an appearance at the Rose Garden outside the White House, where he was joined by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Obama, who ordered an increase in security at U.S. facilities overseas, said he "condemns in the strongest possible terms the outrageous and shocking" attack.

He spoke after Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney condemned the attack, and criticized the administration for its initial response to a separate incident on Tuesday, the breach of the U.S. embassy in Cairo.

The attacks occurred Tuesday night in the eastern city of Benghazi by protesters angry over a film that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Muhammad, according to Libya officials. Ambassador Chris Stevens, 52, was killed when he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate to try to evacuate staff as the building came under attack by a mob guns and rocket propelled grenades. Three other Americans were also killed.

Stevens is the first U.S. ambassador to be killed in an attack since 1979, when Ambassador Adolph Dubs was killed in Afghanistan.

The State Department identified one of the other Americans killed Tuesday as Sean Smith, a foreign service information management officer. The identities of the others were being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

The White House said Obama was notified Tuesday night that Stevens was unaccounted for and was told Wednesday morning that Stevens had been killed.

Obama was informed about the developments in Libya by his National Security Adviser Tom Donilon as the president began a weekly meeting Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey. The White House said Obama was kept apprised throughout the evening and then again Wednesday morning.

The Pentagon said early Wednesday that it was working with the State Department on Obama's order for increased security around the world.

"We are following this tragic incident closely with the State Department," Lt. Col. Steven Warren, a Defense Department spokesman said. "We are prepared to support the State Department in any way."

Speaking earlier at the State Department, Clinton said those killed had been "committed to helping the Libyan people reach for a better future."

The U.N. Security Council has a long-scheduled meeting Wednesday morning to discuss Libya and diplomats said the United States is seeking a council statement on the attack. U.N. Undersecretary-General Jeffrey Feltman, a former American diplomat and close friend of Stevens', is scheduled to brief the council on Libya.

Stevens was a career diplomat who spoke Arabic and French and had already served two tours in Libya, including running the office in Benghazi during the revolt against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. He was confirmed as ambassador to Libya by the Senate earlier this year.

His State Department biography, posted on the website of the U.S. Embassy to Libya, says he "considers himself fortunate to participate in this incredible period of change and hope for Libya."

Clinton said Stevens had a "passion for service, for diplomacy and for the Libyan people."

"This assignment was only the latest in his more than two decades of dedication to advancing closer ties with the people of the Middle East and North Africa which began as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco," Clinton said.

He "risked his own life to lend the Libyan people a helping hand to build the foundation for a new, free nation. He spent every day since helping to finish the work that he started," she said.

Stevens joined the Foreign Service in 1991 and spent his early State Department career at posts in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Israel. After working for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff for Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., Stevens was posted to Libya as deputy chief of mission.

In that post, Stevens wrote several confidential cables back to Washington, describing Gadhafi's bizarre behavior. During the 2011 revolt against Gadhafi, he was one of the last American diplomats to stay in Tripoli and after the embassy was closed, he was appointed to head the U.S. liaison office to the Transitional National Council.

Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer contributed to this report.







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Highinthesierras wrote:
An inconvenient truth - we ARE at war with Islamic extremists. Wake up Barry
on September 12,2012 | 05:21AM
DiverDave wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on September 12,2012 | 06:39AM
johncdechon wrote:
And they're all limp-wristed pansies. America is a global joke, a Paper Tiger of no consequence, so even street thugs can attack it with no worry about any consequences. Absolutely pathetic!
on September 12,2012 | 06:49AM
johncdechon wrote:
P.S. The "Middle East" was ALREADY "destabilized" -- America didn't make it any worse. It always HAS been "destabilized," being such a sorry lawless (except for Sharia) no-account area and ignorant backwards people.
on September 12,2012 | 06:52AM
NITRO08 wrote:
NO YOU ARE PATHETIC GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOU ---! OH BETTER YET LEAVE THE COUNTRY! THAT WOULD IMPROVE AMERICA!
on September 12,2012 | 08:06AM
312guy wrote:
the weapons used and the timing 9/11 think about it they could not attack us at home so where can they do it on their turf! think about it. stop and think!
on September 12,2012 | 05:10PM
lee1957 wrote:
LIbya and Egypt are in Africa.
on September 12,2012 | 11:33AM
312guy wrote:
if you remember it started with saddam Hussein and the weapons of mass distraction not a mispelling distraction and which party was in on it and which president did we all support for his movement on Iraq enough said
on September 12,2012 | 05:08PM
serious wrote:
Obama is going to work with the Libyan government to bring justice? I thought we were fighting them last week?? Sounds too much like B Clinton on the other embassy bambings and the USS Cole--nothing happens!!! Why the heck wasn't there a squad of US Marines---the embassy is US soil--particularly in Libya and Egypt--we need adult supervision!!! Another four years???
on September 12,2012 | 09:03AM
312guy wrote:
ask bin laden that , a President does not act on his own personal feelings but what is best for our nation! I did not see President Obama fly on to an aircraft carrier and say mission accomplished and waste thousand of dollars on a joy flight, when the job was not done.
on September 12,2012 | 05:13PM
kispest wrote:
I'm sure obummer is goint to appologize to Egypt and Lybia. I almost said out leader, than I realized we have none.
on September 12,2012 | 09:31AM
ezridah wrote:
He sure wouldn't condone them ...that should deter future attacks ! I thought increased security was done after 9/11 or is this just rhetoric too ?
on September 12,2012 | 09:55AM
gypsy wrote:
very sad...sounds like Ambassador Chris Stevens was a very intelligent person:(.
on September 12,2012 | 11:44AM
false wrote:
2016themovie.com is a must watch if you want to understand what is going on. You either want more chaos or less chaos, and it is really unfair to wish chaos on others.
on September 12,2012 | 01:32PM
64hoo wrote:
probing planned attack we should have had consulate armed military there from the begining after they overthrew ghadafi then this would'nt happen of them storming are consulate on our soil we would have consulate guards to gun them down.
on September 12,2012 | 05:42PM
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