White House calls US Consulate assault in Benghazi, Libya, a 'terrorist attack'

The White House on Thursday, for the first time, called the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a "terrorist attack."

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Air Force One that the assault, which occurred about a week earlier and resulted in the death of four American foreign service personnel, was a "terrorist attack."

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"It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack," Carney said. "Our embassy was attacked violently and the result was four deaths of American officials. So, again, that’s self-evident."

He emphasized there is no evidence it was premeditated.

"We have no information at this point to suggest that this is a significantly pre-planned attack. But this was the result of opportunism, taking advantage of and exploiting what was happening as a result of the video which was found to be offensive," Carney said.

The statement from Carney follows a similar response from National Counterterrorism Center director Matthew Olsen, who called the attack an act of terrorism in response to a question by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) at a meeting of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

"Yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy," Olsen said. 

A week earlier U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the attack was from "opportunistic extremist elements," who took advantage of a protest against a controversial Internet video depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

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