WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday there can be no doubt that terrorists planned the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, two weeks ago that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
Republicans have accused the Obama administration of downplaying the possibility of a terrorism link to the Sept. 11 attack, which it initially said was tied to protests over an anti-Islam, Internet video that enraged Muslims worldwide.
"It was a terrorist attack," Panetta said when asked at a Pentagon news conference whether al-Qaida was involved. He said it remains to be determined by investigators which terrorist group was involved.
Asked how long after the attack it took him to come to the conclusion that it was perpetrated by terrorists, Panetta said, "It took a while," but he was not more specific.
Addressing the same topic, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that before the attack there was some intelligence about security threats in Libya.
"But there wasn't anything specific and certainly not a specific threat to the consulate that I'm aware of," Dempsey said.
Meanwhile, the State Department is further drawing down staff at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli for security reasons. A senior State Department official said that the reduction in personnel is expected to be temporary, the Associated Press reported.
The embassy warned Americans of possible protests in the capital and Benghazi today.
Filmmaker ordered to jail: Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the filmmaker behind the controversial movie Innocence of Muslims that sparked rioting across the Muslim world, was ordered detained Thursday for allegedly violating terms of his probation.
Federal Judge Suzanne Segal cited a "lengthy pattern of deception."
Nakoula was arrested earlier in the day. Federal prosecutors argued in a court hearing that he posed a flight risk and should remain in custody.
Nakoula was convicted on bank fraud charges in 2010 and was warned against misbehaving on the Internet.
Information from Los Angeles Times was used in this report.