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On Sept. 11, 2012, initial reports claimed a mob of angry protestors gather outside the U.S. temporary consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Protestors reportedly stormed the building, and Ambassador Christopher Stevens and information technology expert Sean Smith died of smoke inhalation. Here a portrait of Stevens is seen along with a condolence book outside the room of Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 14, 2012.
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Two security personnel, former U.S. Navy Seals Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, were killed in a subsequent attack after helping to evacuate those at the consulate to a U.S. diplomatic annex. Here the remains of Stevens, Smith, Doherty and Woods are carried into a hangar during the Transfer of Remains Ceremony on Sept. 14, 2012, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.
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On Sept. 16, 2012, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows. That day, she said, "We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned," and, "Soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that in that effort."
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But on Sept. 19, 2012, an Obama administration official described the incident as a "terrorist attack." The following day, after days of repeating that the video mocking Islam caused the attack, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said: "It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Our embassy was attacked violently, and the result was four deaths of American officials." U.S. officials also back away from the theory that a protest led to the attack.