U.S. Officials Investigating Whether Attacks Planned


UPDATED: Wednesday September 12, 2012 5:23 PM

The Obama administration, roiled by the first killing of a U.S. ambassador in more than 30 years, is investigating whether the assault on the U.S. consulate in Libya was a planned terrorist strike to mark the anniversary of 9/11 and not a spontaneous mob enraged over an anti-Islamic YouTube video.

President Barack Obama vowed in a Rose Garden address Wednesday that the U.S. would "work with the Libyan government to bring to justice" to those who killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American personnel. A U.S. counterterrorism official said intelligence officials said the attack on the Benghazi consulate was too coordinated or professional to be spontaneous.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the incident publicly.

President Barack Obama is vowing to work with Libya's government to bring to justice the killers of the U.S. ambassador to that country and three other Americans.
    
He said American mourns the deaths, but that the work of the embassy personnel "will live on."
    
Obama is ordering stepped-up security at U.S. embassies overseas.
    
U.S. officials said some 50 Marines are being sent to Libya to reinforce security at U.S. diplomatic facilities.
    
Embassies in at least seven countries in the Middle East, Africa and the Caucasus are warning of possible anti-American protests following the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.
    
The embassies in Armenia, Burundi, Kuwait, Sudan, Tunisia and Zambia, along with the embassy in Egypt, which was hit by a protest on Tuesday, all issued warnings on Wednesday advising Americans to be particularly vigilant.
    
The warnings, posted on the embassies' websites, do not report any specific threat to Americans but note that demonstrations can become violent.
    
The protest in Cairo and the attack in Benghazi appear to have been responses to an inflammatory anti-Muslim video posted on the Internet.
    
The U.S. consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi is now largely burned out and trashed, in the aftermath of the attack.
    
Libyans have been wandering freely around the burned-out building, taking photos of rooms where furniture is covered in soot and overturned.
    
The consulate is a one-story villa in a large garden, located in an upscale neighborhood. The attack was carried out by a crowd of hundreds, many of them firing machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
    
Stevens and a group of embassy employees had gone there to try to evacuate staff during the attack.
    
A Libyan doctor who treated Stevens said he died of severe asphyxiation, apparently from smoke. In the chaos surrounding the attack, he was brought by Libyans to a hospital with no other Americans. A doctor there says no one at the facility knew who he was.
    
Libya's deputy U.N. ambassador says several Libyan security officers were killed in the attack and others were wounded.
    
Ibrahim Dabbashi told the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday that the attack, which killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three American diplomats, "in no way serves the interests of Libya" and "gravely damages the image of Islam."
    
He reiterated his government's condemnation of the attack and its determination to bring those responsible to justice.
    
Dabbashi told reporters afterwards that there were "maybe less than 10 victims from the security forces."
    
He said "some of them were killed at the start of the attack."
    
Democrats said on Wednesday that this is no time for Mitt Romney to be taking potshots at U.S. foreign policy.
    
A spokesman said the Obama campaign was "shocked" that Romney would be launching a "political assault" in the aftermath of the U.S. ambassador's death in Libya.
    
But Romney is continuing to criticize a U.S. Embassy statement in Cairo following an attack there. He said the statement seemed to express sympathy with the attackers and that the White House gave "mixed signals" in its response to the breach of the American embassy in Egypt.
    
Romney condemned attacks against the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four U.S. diplomats, including the U.S. ambassador.

The Libyan American Association of Ohio released a statement about the attacks on Wednesday afternoon.
 
“The few criminals who committed this terrorist act and betrayal do not represent in any way the values of Islam, the Libyan American Association of Ohio, the Libyan-American community or the majority of the Libyan people,” said the Libyan American Association of Ohio in a release Wednesday afternoon. “The LAAO demands the Libyan General National Conference and Transitional Government to take immediate and strong actions to bring those criminals to justice and restore security and order in the country.”


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