The White House has denied claims from a British newspaper that it ignored credible information about an impending attack on American diplomats in Libya.
The Independent published a frontpage story on Friday claiming the US State Department had been tipped off 48-hours before the attack on Tuesday, in which US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed as an angry mob surrounded the US consulate in Benghazi.
The other three Americans were later identified as Sean Smith, a State Department information management officer, and former Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
In the report, the newspaper said no warnings were given for diplomats to go on “high alert or lockdown” despite credible evidence that American missions were going to be targeted.
Sensitive documents revealing the location of the safe house and the names of Libyans working with Americans had gone missing as well as oil contracts, the report added, attributing the claims to “senior diplomatic sources”.
The story was carried prominently on The Drudge Report.
As the report in The Independent emerged last night, a US official flatly denied that the State Department had prior knowledge of an impending attack.
“There’s no intelligence indicating that the attack in Benghazi was premeditated,” the official told Politico.
Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said the story was “absolutely wrong”.
“We are not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the US Mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent,” he said.
White House officials have previously said they suspect the attack may have been premeditated due to the type of weapons used, such as mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades, which are not usually wielded during a spontaneous attack.
Initial reports suggested the attack on the consulate, which coinsided with an angry protest outside the US embassy in Cairo, had been caused by anger at an anti-Islamic film produced in the United States.
An FBI investigation has been launched.
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