Washington (CNN) – Several senior administration officials tell CNN UN Ambassador Susan Rice's use of the word "spontaneous" on Sunday talk shows five days after the Libya incident came directly from an assessment provided to the House intelligence community by the CIA, which was not edited by the White House.
The officials maintain the criticism is a result of a poor word choice rather than a true difference in representing what was known about the attack at the time. Several officials say instead of calling it "spontaneous" - it might have been better phrased as: the attack had not been long planned; or there were no signs of an upcoming attack on September 11th.
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One administration official suggests there's a translation challenge when it comes to the language intelligence professionals use.
In late September, DNI spokesman Shawn Turner said: "As we learned more about the attack we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists."
This official says in that statement, "deliberate" should be understood to mean the militants had "a willful intent to get over the compound." The official said use of the word "organized" should be interpreted to mean "the people involved in the attack knew each other, they weren't meeting there for the first time."
Another administration official asserts that, as the intelligence community has continued scrubbing the intelligence, they find no reference to a pending attack on September 11th. This official says that's why they argued there was no premeditation.
With regard to the initial thinking that the incident started as a protest – this official maintains that intelligence coming from human sources and intercepts all indicated there was a protest on the scene. They note that there were many across the Middle East at the time as well as confusion in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
Since then, senior State Department officials have said there was "nothing unusual" throughout the day of the attack and that the first sign of a problem came at 9:40 p.m. when diplomatic security agents heard loud talking outside the compound, along with gunfire and explosions.