— U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says an Internet claim of responsibility that followed last month's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, is not hard evidence of who killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador. The Obama administration's handling of the event has become an issue in the U.S. presidential campaign.
Within hours of the September 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, a State Department clearinghouse for publicly available information notified U.S. officials that the Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia claimed credit for the violence in posts on Facebook and Twitter.
That has raised more questions about the Obama administration's initial public assessment that the violence was linked to a protest over an Internet video defaming the Prophet Muhammad - an explanation the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations repeated five days after the attack.
Secretary Clinton says the Ansar al-Sharia Internet claim proved nothing.
"Posting something on Facebook is not in and of itself evidence, and I think it just underscores how fluid the reporting was at the time and continued for some time to be,'' he said.
Speaking to reporters at the State Department Wednesday, she said an ongoing review of those events is looking into all of the information available at the time, as well as what has been learned since.
"The independent Accountability Review Board is already hard at work looking at everything, not cherry picking one story here or one document there, but looking at everything, which I highly recommend as the appropriate approach to something as complex as an attack like this," said the secretary of state.
Yemeni protestors break a door of the U.S. Embassy during a protest about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Mohammed, Sana'a, Yemen, September 13, 2012.
Yemenis protest in front of the U.S. Embassy during a protest about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Mohammed, Sana'a, September 13, 2012.
Egyptian protesters burn tires as they clash with riot police outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, September 13, 2012.
An Egyptian protester throws back a tear gas canister toward riot police outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, September 13, 2012.
A policeman stands in front of a police car set on fire by protesters in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, during clashes between protesters and police, September 13, 2012.
White House staff are pictured after they lowered the U.S. flag to half staff on the roof of the White House in Washington, September 12, 2012, following the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.
President Barack Obama delivers a statement with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, September 12, 2012
A burnt car is parked at the U.S. consulate, which was attacked and set on fire by gunmen, in Benghazi, Libya, September 12, 2012.
An exterior view of the U.S. consulate, which was attacked and set on fire by gunmen yesterday, in Benghazi September 12, 2012.
An interior view of the damage at the U.S. consulate, which was attacked and set on fire by gunmen yesterday, in Benghazi, Libya, September 12, 2012.
Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, was killed along with three of his staff on September 11, 2012 during a demonstration at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. This photo was taken at his home in Tripoli, June 28, 2012.
A vehicle sits smoldering in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012.
An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi, Libya, late on September 11, 2012.
U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in flames during protest, September 11, 2012
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and some of his party's lawmakers in Congress have accused the Obama administration of misleading Americans about the violence that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.
White House press secretary Jay Carney says "there were emails about all sorts of information that was becoming available in the aftermath of the attack,'' and that U.S. intelligence officials moved to "assess strands of information and make judgments about what happened and who is responsible.''
Secretary Clinton says no one wants to get to the bottom of what happened more than the Obama administration.
"What I keep in mind is that four brave Americans were killed and we will find out what happened, we will take whatever measures are necessary to fix anything that needs to be fixed, and we will bring those to justice who committed these murders,'' she said.
It is reported that Turkey has extradited to Tunisia a suspect in the Benghazi attack, but State Department officials would not comment on whether U.S. authorities are trying to question that individual.