The CIA station chief in Libya reported to Washington within 24 hours of last month’s deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate that there was evidence it was carried out by militants, not a spontaneous mob upset about an American-made video ridiculing Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, U.S. officials have told The Associated Press.
It is unclear who, if anyone, saw the cable outside the CIA at that point and how high up in the agency the information went. The Obama administration maintained publicly for a week that the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was a result of the mobs that staged less-deadly protests across the Muslim world around the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on the U.S.
Now congressional intelligence committees are demanding documents to show what the spy agencies knew and when, before, during and after the attacks.
The White House now says the attack probably was carried out by an al Qaida-linked group, with no public demonstration beforehand. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton blamed the “fog of war” for the early conflicting accounts.
The officials who told the AP about the CIA cable spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to release such information publicly.