Was Libya Attack Premeditated?

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 16 2012 1:29 PM

Libya, U.S. Disagree on Whether Benghazi Attack Was Premeditated

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice says the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was spontaneous

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Sunday talk shows saw dueling views of the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, with Libya’s president insisting the attack was pre-planned, and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations saying it was “spontaneous.” In an interview with CBS News, President Mohammed Magarief said Libya has made some 50 arrests in connection with the arrests. "It was planned, definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their arrival," he said. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice told both CBS and ABC that the protests erupted after the Cairo demonstrations and then extremists joined protesters with heavy weapons.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that while the protests are likely to continue “over the next few days, if not longer,” he noted that the violence appears to be waning after a relatively calm day Saturday, reports the Associated Press. Still, the Obama administration ordered the evacuation of most U.S. government personnel and their families from Tunisia and Sudan while warning Americans not to travel to those countries, reports the Washington Post.


The decreasing violence doesn’t mean the White House is now relaxing. The Obama administration seems to recognize the days of anti-U.S. violence seen across the Muslim world in recent days is likely the beginning of a long period of turmoil and doubt over Middle East policy, notes the New York Times. Administration officials say the controversy surrounding Mitt Romney’s statement on the attacks helped them avoid some uncomfortable questions that are likely to take center stage during the last stretch of the presidential campaign.

How did widespread anger over a crude and amateurish movie begin? It all started with a phone call on Sept. 4, reports McClatchy. That was when a Coptic Christian who lives in the United States first called a reporter in Egypt and told him to take a look at a film he had helped produce. The reporter reluctantly published a three-paragraph article. Five days later, protesters were storming the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.


War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The One National Holiday Republicans Hope You Forget

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.


It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

Use Facebook to Reconnect With Old Friends, Share Photos, and Serve People With Legal Papers

  News & Politics
Sept. 23 2014 6:40 PM Coalition of the Presentable Don’t believe the official version. Meet America’s real allies in the fight against ISIS.
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 4:45 PM Why Is Autumn the Only Season With Two Names?
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Sept. 23 2014 4:33 PM Who Deserves Those 4 Inches of Airplane Seat Space? An investigation into the economics of reclining.
Sports Nut
Sept. 23 2014 7:27 PM You’re Fired, Roger Goodell If the commissioner gets the ax, the NFL would still need a better justice system. What would that look like?