White House press secretary Jay Carney said an anti-Islam video and the Cairo protests “precipitated some of the unrest” at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in a Tuesday press briefing.
“At this time, as Ambassador Rice said, and as I said, our understanding and our belief, based on the information that we had, it was the video that caused the unrest in Cairo, and the video and the unrest in Cairo that precipitated some of the unrest in Benghazi and elsewhere,” Carney said. “What other factors were involved is a matter of investigation.”
In a Sunday interview with “Face the Nation,” the president of Libya’s National Congress, Mohamed Magariaf, said the attacks on the consulate were planned and connected to al Qaida.
Ambassador Susan Rice appeared to dispute this in a subsequent interview, saying that while the U.S. believes extremists were involved, the attacks were not coordinated in advance.
“We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned,” Rice said.
Earlier in the press briefing, Carney said he would not speculate about the motivations behind the attack, when asked to reconcile seemingly conflicting accounts from Ambassador Rice and Libyan officials.
CNN reported late Monday that Libyan officials say a local security official warned U.S. diplomats about deteriorating security three days before the attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
Update (1:04 p.m.): Carney referred to the “unrest in Benghazi,” not the “violence in Benghazi.” The headline and quotation have been corrected.