The White House insisted Friday that anti-American protests roiling the Middle East are not directed at President Obama’s policies, but at a film produced in the U.S. that Muslims find offensive.
“This is not a case of protest directed at the United States writ large or at U.S. policy,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney. “It is in response, not to United States policy, not to obviously the administration, not to the American people, but to a video, a film, that we have judged to be reprehensible, disgusting.”
As he spoke, the remains of four Americans killed in an attack at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, were being flown back to the U.S., and U.S. diplomatic posts were under siege by protesters in several countries across the Middle East.
The White House rejected as “absolutely false” a report in a London newspaper that U.S. officials had advanced warning of a possible assault on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
“There was no intelligence that in any way could have been acted on to prevent these attacks,” Mr. Carney said.
Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was killed in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, along with State Department employee Sean Smith and two former Navy SEALS, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. The latter two victims were providing security at the consulate.
The violence was apparently provoked by reactions to an anti-Islam movie produced by a Southern California man, although some analysts suspect that militants exploited the film to foster attacks on the anniversary of Sept. 11.