Panetta Says It Was Terrorism at US Consulate in Benghazi
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Leon Panetta left no doubt Thursday where the administration stands on the circumstances surrounding the siege on the U.S. consulate in Libya that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
At a press briefing, the Pentagon chief told reporters it "was a terrorist attack," thus putting a cap on two weeks of seeming vacillation on the subject.
Panetta said that "a group of terrorists obviously conducted that attack on the consulate and against our individuals. What terrorists were involved, I think, still remains to be determined by the investigation."
A day earlier, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tied the September 11 assault on the U.S. mission to an al Qaeda offshoot group operating in northern Africa.
The White House has come under criticism from GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and others for first claiming the attack might have been an outgrowth of a demonstration against an anti-Islam movie produced in the U.S. that enraged the Muslim world.
However, Panetta said the administration didn't want to jump to any conclusions, saying, "As we determined the details of what took place there, and how that attack took place,...it became clear that there were terrorists who had planned that attack."
President Obama has yet to use the words "terrorist attack" to describe what happened.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio