Sources say counterterror chief reprimanded for calling Libya attack terror, White House denies
by CATHERINE HERRIDGE
October 25, 2012
Congressional sources tell Fox News that a top administration counterterrorism official was reprimanded by the White House last month after he testified that the Sept. 11 attack in Libya was terrorism.
The White House and the official are pushing back on the claim. But the allegation would appear to raise questions about recent administration statements that they were labeling the attack terrorism from the start.
Sources told Fox News that, in fact, the White House was unhappy with Matt Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, after his Sept. 19 comments, and told him to tone it down afterward.
Olsen had told a Senate committee, in reference to the four Americans killed in the attack: "They were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy."
It was the first time any administration official had publicly and directly labeled the attack terrorism.
Fox News was told Olsen's position was that he was laying out the intelligence as it was currently understood.
The White House, though, denied Olsen was reprimanded.
"This is completely false. The attack in Benghazi was clearly an act of terror, which is why the president referred to it as such three times before this testimony," National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told Fox News. He was referring to Obama's statement on Sept. 12, and subsequently, in which he referred to "acts of terror."
A national counterterrorism official told Fox News that Olsen also denied he was reprimanded for his statements.
The claim further complicates the narrative about when the administration came to the conclusion that the attack was terrorism - let alone whether the attack was pre-planned, a matter that is still in dispute.