For more than a week after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Libya that killed four Americans, President Obama received daily intelligence briefings that said the assault grew out of a spontaneous protest, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
In comments on Sept. 16, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan rice called the attack “spontaneous,” and her characterization has led to accusations that the administration was misleading in the wake of the attack. The Journal reports that over that first weekend following the attack, intelligence officials began to cast doubt on that assessment, but that Rice had not been apprised of the doubts. The assessment that the attack was the result of a protest was not adjusted in the president's briefing until Sept. 22, The Journal reports.
The briefing, compiled by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, is based on CIA information-gathering, and is, as The Journal notes, “the most authoritative intelligence report prepared by the intelligence agencies and is read by the president and his top-level advisers.”
The report seemingly bolsters President Obama, who in last week’s debate said that the administration did not “play politics” when it came to determining what happened in Libya and that it was “offensive” for Mitt Romney to suggest otherwise. Republicans have assailed the administration for sticking with characterization that the attack was spontaneous when information seemed to suggest that the attack was a coordinated act of terrorism.
On Monday, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said on CNN’s Starting Point that Obama and Rice were “presenting the American people with the facts as they were provided to them by the intelligence agencies,” and added that The Journal’s report makes “Mitt Romney and his team look pretty small for the way they tried to exploit this whole thing for political purposes, drumming up these kind of conspiracy theories."