September 27th, 2012
04:29 PM ET

Defense secretary says Benghazi assault was planned terror attack

By Barbara Starr and Adam Levine

The assault on the diplomatic office in Benghazi was clearly a planned assault by terrorists, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Thursday.

"As we determined the details of what took place there and how that attack took place, it became clear that there were terrorists who planned that attack," Panetta said.

Panetta's comments are the most definitive to date by an administration official that the Benghazi assault was planned.  The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said on September 16th that the attack "began spontaneously" as a protest against an anti-Muslim film that "spun" from there. Last week, testifying to Congress, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center said, at that point, there was no indication of "significant" plotting.

"What we don't have at this point is specific intelligence that there was a significant advanced planning or coordination for this attack," Matt Olsen said.

Also: Intel quickly saw signs of al Qaeda links in consulate attack

Panetta, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday, said that determining what terrorists were involved is still a matter to be determined by the investigation.

"It clearly was a group of terrorists who conducted that attack against that facility," Panetta said. "We are not going to let people who deliberately attack and kill our people get away with it."

Asked how long it took for him to make that determination of it being a terror attack, Panetta said "it took a while" once information from the location came back.

U.S. officials have said there was no "actionable intelligence" ahead of the September 11th attack, but there was a sense by intelligence agencies that groups in eastern Libya were seeking to “coalesce,” said the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who spoke at the same press conference.

“There was a thread of intelligence reporting that groups in the environment in eastern Libya were seeking to coalesce but there wasn't anything specific and certainly not a specific threat to the consulate that I am aware of,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey did not elaborate on what the information was but said there was nothing specific in that information about plans to attack the Benghazi diplomatic office.

A source familiar with Dempsey’s thinking on that intelligence thread told CNN the information came to light in the month before the attack and was indicating extremist groups “may be collaborating and are more connected than they are disparate.”

The US had been conducted drone surveillance missions and monitoring cell phone traffic among extremist groups in eastern Libya for some time, US officials have confirmed to CNN.

Dempsey said that information was shared among intelligence agencies and agency “partners,” when asked if State Department was aware of that information.

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. MikeGA

    I am at a lose, if this WH had a video live or not, then they ignored the truth terroist in live view attacked and murderd 4 Americans, and did nothing. They could say they did not see or know the facts, yet they stated facts it was a violent protest. bottom line, they out right lied to the American people EVEN on the backs of 4 Americans. OR they have no military skill to see what is what. Hmmm that line Iran is no threat either. ok, BIGGER PROBLEM, if they feel nothing on letting Americans get murdered and not help. Have we been lied to about how the economey is doing oh so much better just because this WH says so. My expense for food and gas to get to my job have tripled these past four years. He calls Romey a B.S.er, I guess it takes one to know one.

    October 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Reply
  2. Tequila and Tortilla

    It is no secret that Hitler and his Nazi cronies sought inspiration from Indian extremist groups including the branding of his Nazi Party by adopting the Swastika, a traditionally Hindu symbol and representation of Hindu god Ganesha, as its marketing tool. The thesis being that like the Norwegian massacre the Jewish holocaust orchestrated by Hitler was inspired by the inherently violent cult of Indian Hindus and the manifesto of its then extremist/terrorist groups still in existence today. These groups are now the successors to and carrying out the vision of Al Qaeda all over the world albeit in a clandestine manner.

    September 28, 2012 at 9:58 am | Reply
  3. simon

    Blah blah blah ... Leon Panetta is a putz . This was a planned terrorist attack by Mossad and rogue CIA as a way to incite Duhmericans into more war ..... End of story. The timing was very interesting indeed. right before the UN meeting etc. I don't believe anything these . Hopefully you don't all fall for it again.

    September 28, 2012 at 2:33 am | Reply
  4. cactus

    These terrorists groups in India are formed just to hit back at the ones in Pakistan which are attacking them on a weekly basis. They have no intention to attack America.

    September 28, 2012 at 12:58 am | Reply
    • Tequila and Tortilla

      I wonder if this is just for

      Perhaps you should revisit your spin !

      New, More Dangerous Hindu Extremist Groups Emerge in India

      Christians concerned as rightwing factions splinter to form militant outfits.
      PUNE, India, October 29 (CDN) — After more than a decade of severe persecution, India’s Christian minority is growing increasingly concerned over the mushrooming of newer and deadlier Hindu extremist groups.

      Gone are the days when Christians had to watch out only for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and its youth wing, Bajrang Dal, which are closely linked with the most influential Hindu extremist umbrella organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). With voter support faltering for the RSS’s political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), moderate and extremist sections within the Hindu nationalist movement are blaming each other, and militant splinter groups have emerged.

      Claiming to be breakaway factions of the RSS, new groups with even more extreme ideology are surfacing. The Abhinav Bharat (Pride of India), the Rashtriya Jagran Manch (National Revival Forum), the Sri Ram Sene (Army of god Rama), the Hindu Dharam Sena (Army for Hindu Religion) and the Sanatan Sanstha (Eternal Organization) have launched numerous violent attacks on Christian and Muslim minorities.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:56 am | Reply
  5. Salem

    Liar...............They also planned the release of the movie in 9l11....??

    September 27, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Reply
    • cactus

      Expand on your post so we can have some small idea of whatever you are talking about

      September 28, 2012 at 12:59 am | Reply
    • cactus

      Since Panetta knows it was a terrorist attack and the president of Libya knows it was a terroris attack, why did Obama try to cover it up and blame it on the film clip on utube? The apologist in chief does all he can to cover for the muslimes.

      September 28, 2012 at 1:04 am | Reply
      • Sally

        Obama covered up Ambassador Stevens ra pe and murder because Obama created Al Qaeda's new safe haven in Libya while also releasing terrorists from Guantanamo who have gone back to Libya. In any normal co conspiracy trial, Obama would be guilty of aiding and abetting the enemy. Obama got Stevens and his three co workers killed, and has immeasurably enabled radical Islam expansion. Those are the facts. We can speculate on his motives. I suggest watching the movie "2016".

        September 28, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  6. For Your Eyes Only

    Mr. Secretary,

    Let me introduce you to another gang looking for your attention.
    Please oblige them before it is too late. Thanks

    TERRORIST GROUPS IN INDIA

    • RASHTRIYA SWAYAM SEWAK SHANG (R.S.S.)
    • VISHWA HINDU PARISHAD
    • HINDU MUNNANI
    • ARYA SAMAJ
    • SHIV SENA
    • BHARATIYA JANATA PARISHAD
    • SANT SAMITI
    • HINDU MAHASABHA
    • BAAJRANG DAL

    LEADERS: L.K. Advani/ Ashok Singhal/ Bala Saheb Devaras/ Bal Thackeray/ A.B. Vajpayee/ Savarkar/ Baikunnth Lal Sharma “Prem”/ Balraj Madhok/ The Shankaracharya of Puri, Niranjan Dev Theerth/ Rama Gopalan/ Variyar – Vishwan Hindu Parishad/ Dharmalinga Nadar/ Cho Ramaswamy

    September 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Reply
    • Jim Applebee_Northern Virginia

      drone 'em

      September 28, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Reply

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