In the days after the assault, counterterrorism officials expressed dismay over what they interpreted as the Obama Administration's unwillingness to acknowledge that the attack was terrorism; and their opinion that resources which could have helped were excluded.
Counterterrorism officials from two agencies said they concluded almost immediately that the attack was by terrorists and was not spontaneous. "I came to this conclusion as soon as I heard the mortar rounds were impacting on top of the building our people were occupying," says one. "The position of the mortar must be plotted on a map, the target would have to be plotted, computations would be calculated that would result in the proper mortar tube elevation and the correct number of powder bags to be attached to the rounds."
A White House official says President Obama immediately acknowledged the assault was a terrorist attack. However, there was confusion as White House spokesman Jay Carney said three days later, "We have no information to suggest that it was a preplanned attack."
On Sept.16, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told CBS' "Face the Nation" and other talk shows that the assault appeared to have grown from a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam video.
CBS' Bob Schieffer asked Rice whether she thought "that this was something that had been plotted out several months ago?" Rice answered, "We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned."
In an interview last week, President Obama said "the minute" he became aware of the Benghazi attack, he directed his staff to "make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to do."