For 10 Days, CIA Told Obama Libya Attack Was Protest

Despite conflicting evidence

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 22, 2012 9:06 AM CDT

(Newser) – New details are emerging revealing the confusion surrounding the attack on the US consulate in Libya that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead: For 10 days after the attack, the CIA told President Obama in his daily intelligence briefing that the siege came out of a spontaneous protest. It wasn't until Sept. 22 that that assessment was adjusted to indicate a terrorist attack, even though doubt had been cast on it assessment right away, the Wall Street Journal reports. And it wasn't until early October that the administration actually acknowledged that the first conclusion was wrong.

There's quite a bit of tension between the White House and the CIA over the matter, with the administration saying it's up to intelligence officials to decide what information can be revealed—and intelligence officials saying the opposite, and accusing the White House of turning the CIA into a scapegoat. Some of the timing details from the Journal:

  • Intelligence officials first started to seriously question the original protest assessment on Sept. 15 and 16, but the daily brief remained the same, and Susan Rice—who was not told of the conflicting reports—went on TV saying the attack sprung out of a protest.
  • Even at a White House meeting Sept. 17, the CIA stuck by the original assessment.
  • By Sept. 18, intelligence officials had concluded there was no protest prior to the attack, but didn't make that conclusion public.
Click for the Journal's full report.

In this Sept. 13, 2012 file photo, a Libyan man investigates the inside of the  US Consulate, after an attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
In this Sept. 13, 2012 file photo, a Libyan man investigates the inside of the US Consulate, after an attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.   (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon, File)
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