By Jonathan Easley - 09/14/12 04:40 PM EDT
The White House on Friday said a report stating the president failed to act on knowledge of a potential attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya was “absolutely wrong.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney said there was “no actionable intelligence” ahead of the attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.
Embassies in Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia have been attacked by mobs protesting an anti-Islamic video circulating on the Internet.
Republican lawmakers have said the attack on the Libyan consulate, which took place on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, looked more like a coordinated effort by militants.
But Carney on Friday said there was no evidence it was a planned terrorist assassination. He said it appeared that, like the embassy storming in Cairo, Egypt, the attack was sparked by a trailer circulating on the Internet for a supposed anti-Islam film.
“We have no information to suggest it was a pre-planned attack,” Carney said. “The unrest we’ve seen across the region was in response to a video ... not in response to a 9/11 anniversary, that we know of.”
A report in the UK newspaper The Independent on Thursday said “the U.S. State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and ‘lockdown,’ under which movement is severely restricted.”
The report cited anonymous senior diplomatic sources, and received wide attention in the United States after a link to the Drudge Report.
Carney put the full blame of the Middle East unrest on the video, saying the reason the embassies seemed unprepared to deal with the attacks was because of the unpredictable Muslim reaction to the obscure film.
“What we have seen is unrest around the region in response to a video that Muslims find offensive,” he said. “We have seen incidents like this in the past in reaction to other actions, cartoons, other actions taken that have led to protests and violence in the region and we have managed those situations and we are working to ensure that our diplomatic personnel ... are secure as we deal with response to this video.”
The administration has also been criticized by some who say Stevens, the ambassador to Libya, was not adequately protected. There are conflicting and still emerging reports about whether his security detail was sufficiently armed to deal with an attack.
“It was unfortunately not enough to resist the attacks that we saw,” Carney said. “And it resulted in a tragic loss of life, but there was security. It's also the case that in reaction to this, the president has ordered that we review all of our security arrangements for embassy facilities and other diplomatic facilities around the world.”
President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will make remarks at a return of remains ceremony for the Americans killed in Libya at the Joint Base Andrews this afternoon.