Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya was “planned” by terrorists, a comment more in keeping with the Libyan president’s claims than our own.

“As we determined the details of what took place there and how that attack took place, it became clear that there were terrorists who had planned that attack,” Panetta told reporters, adding that it “took awhile” to come to that conclusion. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tied the attack to al Qaeda, but Panetta said that “as to who was involved, what specific groups were involved, I think that the investigation is ongoing [and] will hopefully determine that.”

Panetta’s statement reverses the claim made by U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice in the days following the September 11 embassy assault. “The best assessment we have today is that, in fact, this was not a pre-planned, pre-meditated attack, that what happened initially is that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video,” Rice said on Fox News Sunday.

Libyan President Mohamed Magarief rejected Rice’s analysis. “Reaction should have been, if it was genuine, should have been six months earlier. So it was postponed until the 11th of September,” Magarief told NBC. “They chose this date, 11th of September to carry a certain message.”