WASHINGTON, Sept 23, 2012 (AFP) -
WASHINGTON, Sept 23, 2012 (AFP) –
An influential US lawmaker cast doubt Sunday over whether there was even an anti-American protest going on when the American ambassador to Libya was killed earlier this month.
Envoy Chris Stevens and three other Americans died at the consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on September 11, hours after demonstrations over an anti-Islamic movie trailer erupted at the US embassy in Cairo, Egypt.
President Barack Obama’s administration initially said it believed extremists had not really planned the attack in Libya but simply taken advantage of a spontaneous protest over the anti-Islamic trailer.
The White House for the first time Thursday described the assault as a “terrorist attack” and said it could have links to Al-Qaeda, but a Republican lawmaker cast doubt Sunday over whether the protests even happened.
“I have seen no information that shows that there was a protest going on as you have seen around any other embassy at the time,” Mike Rogers, chairman of the House intelligence committee, told CNN’s “State of the Union” program.
“The notion about the film… I think the administration was ill-advised to push down that road,” he added.
Rogers said he believed it was a revenge attack timed to coincide with the 11th anniversary of 9/11 but that it wasn’t clear if the militants had known Stevens was there or just got lucky.
“This had to be a pre-planned event. We know it was an act of terrorism. I think the administration has come to the conclusion it’s an act of terrorism now,” he said.
The State Department is under rising scrutiny about what appears to be inadequate security for Stevens and the consulate in Benghazi before the attack.
To answer some of the questions, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced on Thursday an official review of security at the Benghazi mission to be chaired by veteran diplomat Thomas Pickering.