An Obama administration official whose now controversial comment that the attack on the U.S. mission in Libya was "spontaneous" relied on talking points provided by the CIA based on its assessment that an intelligence official said on Friday was updated days later with new information.
The disclosure to CNN appears to offer some clarity around the Obama administration's early stage explanation of the September 11 attack by armed militants that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
But CNN National Security Contributor Fran Townsend injected a new element into the crucial time line on Friday night, reporting on Anderson Cooper 360 that senior intelligence officials had multiple conversations with senior White House officials in the first 24 hours after the attack.
Townsend, a former homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to President George W. Bush, added that "we don't know" what was said.
"But I can tell you from having lived through these crises, you're getting a constant feed of what the intelligence community understands about what is currently going on and what has happened on the ground," Townsend said.
She added that "they will caveat the information" because in the first hours there "will be all sorts of information, some of it which will turn out not to have been true."
By Michael V. Hayden, CNN Contributor
Editor's note: Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who was appointed by President George W. Bush as CIA director in 2006 and served until February 2009, is a principal with the Chertoff Group, a security consulting firm. He serves on the boards of several defense firms and is a distinguished visiting professor at George Mason University. Hayden is an adviser to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.
Even as last month's events in Benghazi, Libya, become clearer (it was a terrorist attack), the aftermath of Benghazi on American politics and on American policy is far from settled.
The immediate question is why did it take so long to characterize accurately what happened there?
By Jill Dougherty
The State Department stood by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice Monday, rejecting calls by Republicans that she step down
Asked to comment on demands by Rep. Peter King, R-New York, that Rice step down for what he says were misleading comments about the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters: "Secretary (Hillary) Clinton believes that Ambassador Rice has done a superb job, so let's just start there, and we completely reject any such calls here in this building."
Asked to explain inconsistencies from the Obama administration about the attack on the mission in which four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, died, Nuland said: "When we gave our initial impressions that very first week of how we understood things had happened, we were very careful here, the secretary was careful, to make clear that these were preliminary assessments, that we would have to fully investigate, and to the extent that there were lessons to be learned we were going to have to take those on board."
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations warned that should the current plan fail in Syria, the world is facing a 'worst case scenario' of intensifying civil strife.
Ambassador Susan Rice told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that that there needs to be "maximum international pressure" on Syria's president by the United Nations Security Council "including sanctions and potentially other steps."
"Should all of that fail or not be possible because it perhaps would be vetoed again, then we're into a situation which is chaotic," Rice said in the interview that aired Wednesday on Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.