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GOP Leaders Reject Report That Benghazi Wasn't Linked To Al-Qaida

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 late on Sept. 11.
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 late on Sept. 11.

The chair of the House Intelligence Committee is casting doubt on a New York Times report that found the attack on the American mission in Benghazi, Libya, was not perpetrated by al-Qaida or any other international terrorist group.

"I dispute that, and the intelligence community, to a large volume, disputes that," Michigan GOP Rep. Mike Rogers told Fox News Sunday.

Rogers went on to say the report was "not accurate."

Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York, told the network on Saturday that the New York Times was engaging in an "academic debate" based on semantics.

The Times report, for example, says the militant group Ansar al-Shariah had something to do with the attack. King says while Ansar al-Shariah is not formally tied to al-Qaida, it supports its cause.

The report, said King, is "misleading" and "making a distinction without a difference."

When he was asked if the Times story was designed to clear Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the attacks, Rogers said he found the timing of the report odd.

On Meet The Press, Calif. Republican Rep. Darrell Issa also defended his previous statements, saying the Obama administration had "effectively lied" to the American people. Issa said it was clear that the attack was perpetrated by "a group that was involved that claims an affiliation with al-Qaida."

If you haven't kept up, the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the American Mission in Benghazi, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, has been politicized almost from the get-go.

As NPR's Ari Shapiro reported back in February, the attack became the subject of presidential campaign politics and has since then become a rallying cry for Republicans, who say the Obama administration bungled the situation and misled the American public by insisting at first that this was a spontaneous attack spurred by an American-made anti-Islam video.

The Times report, based on months of reporting, backs up the administration. Republicans say it changes nothing and Congress should still go forward with an investigation into what happened.

Update at 12 p.m. ET. On The Semantics:

Meet the Press also spoke to David Kirkpatrick, the New York Times reporter who wrote the investigative piece. Kirkpatrick explained that this attack was very clearly perpetrated by local militant Islamists.

Was it perpetrated by the group founded by Osama bin Laden? Kirkpatrick says it was very clearly not.

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