Lieberman ‘Puzzled’ by Why Some in Administration Were ‘Hesitant’ to Call Libyan Attack ‘a Terrorist Attack’

By Melanie Arter | September 28, 2012 | 5:21 PM EDT

In this Dec. 18, 2010 file photo, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., speaks during a news conference in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

( Sen. Joseph Lieberman, chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said Sunday that he was puzzled as to why some in the Obama administration were hesitant to call the Libyan attack a “terrorist attack.”

“I was puzzled by why there was some people in the administration who were hesitant to call this a terrorist attack, because whether it was planned, premeditated or spontaneous, it had all the attributes of any accepted definition of terrorism, which was that it was the use of violence to carry out a political mission, and clearly that’s what happened at the consulate or mission in Benghazi,” Lieberman said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers.”

Lieberman was asked what more is known about whether the attack was “indeed opportunistic and not premeditated” and whether there is evidence that it was planned. Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, were killed in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11.

“I don’t think we know enough yet now to know whether it was opportunistic – whether it was planned to occur on Sept. 11 or whether it was a planned – if I could put it this way, the terrorists had on a shelf and when they saw what was happening in response to the anti-Muslim film, they seized the moment and carried it out, but it clearly wasn’t just spontaneous. They knew what they were doing … and again the facts are not all clear,” he said.

A briefing was held last week with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other national security officials, Lieberman said, and the investigation is ongoing.

“But from what we’ve gleaned from people who have talked to people who were there, diesel fuel was thrown around the compound, then lit on fire. The terrorists waited, and then just when everyone thought that the attack was over for hours, they fired quite exactly and unfortunately with real skill and experience mortar rounds at the second building that people had gone to, retreated to, and that’s when the two [Navy] Seals were killed,” he said.

“So, yeah this was a terrorist attack, and I think it was premeditated whether it was planned for this day frankly is to me inconsequential,” Lieberman said.