The assault on the consulate, which killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, has been designated as a “terrorist attack,” which occurred on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorism in New York City, at the Pentagon, and with Flight 93 that went down in Pennsylvania.
The senators – John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) – wrote to Ambassador Rice in a letter on Tuesday demanding that she explain why she stated the Libya attacks were in response to a video clip, rather than an act of terrorism.
“In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi that resulted in the death of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, you made several troubling statements that are inconsistent with the facts and require explanation,” the senators wrote.
The senators noted that Rice appeared on several Sunday morning political talk shows, stating on each one that the attack in Libya was a copycat attack based on a similar incident in Egypt several hours before, concluding that both attacks were the result of radical Muslims viewing a video clip they felt was offensive.
The letter then points out that, when Rice made her comments, it was apparent that the attack was anything but a spontaneous reaction to events in Egypt or a YouTube video. The letter notes that the militants who attacked the consulate were “heavily armed and well trained” and appeared to have “prepared for an opportunity to attack U.S. interests.”
The letter also notes that the attacks occurred on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The letter says it “would be difficult to know” what Ambassador Rice would constitute attacks against the United States, if the Libyan incident did not qualify as such an attack.
“These facts did not prevent you from labeling the murder of four Americans as a ‘spontaneous reaction’ to the video and ‘not an expression of hostility … toward the United States.’ If the murder of four American diplomats is not ‘an expression of hostility’ it is difficult to know what would be.”
On Sept. 20, nine days after the incident in Libya, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stated, “It is self-evident that what happened in Banghazi was a terrorist attack.” Prior to that, Carney had said that the unrest in Egypt and Libya was sparked by the YouTube video, which had been posted online back in June.
President Barack Obama has yet to publicly refer to the incident in Libya as a “terrorist attack.”