Libya attack work of terrorists, says U.S. (+video)
A panel is set to determine whether security around the US Consulate in Libya was sufficient when it was attacked on Sept. 11. The attack killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others.
The Obama administration on Thursday described last week's assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, as a "terrorist attack" and announced a panel to investigate the events that took the lives of the ambassador and three other Americans.Skip to next paragraph
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave lawmakers a classified briefing as more questions were raised in Congress about whether sufficient security was in place before the Sept. 11 attack in which the Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, died.
Clinton said the investigating panel would be chaired by Thomas Pickering, a retired diplomat who served as U.S. ambassador to Russia, India, Israel, Nigeria, El Salvador, Jordan and at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
IN PICTURES: Anger across the Muslim world
The White House said it agreed with an assessment made a day earlier by a senior counterterrorism official that the violence in Benghazi was an act of terrorism.
"It is self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters traveling with President Barack Obama. Carney did not go any further in clarifying whether the administration believed the attack was planned.
Some Republicans said they saw a shift in emphasis from the White House's earlier presentation of the violence as a protest outside the Benghazi consulate that got out of control.
Debate over whether militant groups planned the assault or whether the violence resulted from protests against a film insulting to Islam has become U.S. election-year fodder.
The investigative panel, whose creation is generally required by law when someone is killed or seriously injured at a U.S. mission abroad, is made up of four people chosen by the secretary of state and the U.S. intelligence community. It is expected to write a report on whether security systems and procedures were adequate, and could recommend improvements.