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Emails Suggest White House Knew Of Group Involved In Libya Attack

Sophie Elkus |
October 24, 2012 | 4:11 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Emails have surfaced revealing details of an Islamic group claiming credit for attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi
Emails have surfaced revealing details of an Islamic group claiming credit for attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi
A government email to the White House, State Department and FBI two hours after notification of an attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya said an Islamist group had claimed credit for the violence, CNN reported.

An email was sent during the attack and another followed two hours later from a State Department address to government agencies, including the Executive Office of the President. It identified Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia as claiming responsibility for the attack through its Facebook and Twitter accounts. The group denied responsibility the next day.

The emails raise questions about the role of the Obama administration in determining the nature of the Sept. 11 attack that left U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three Americans dead, CNN reported. Two anonymous White House officials said the government emails were not an “intelligence assessment,” but a part of many additional reports received that day. “That’s why you have an investigation,” an official said.

MORE: Libya Embassy Attack Suspect Relaxes And Scoffs At America And Libya

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton advised reporters to wait until an appointed review panel has finished investigating the incident, CNN reported

“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 an attack like this,” Clinton said Wednesday.

“Posting something on Facebook is not in and of itself evidence,” she added. “I think it just underscores how fluid the reporting was at the time and continued for some time to be.”

MORE: Hillary Clinton Takes Blame For Benghazi Attacks

Regarding the email, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the claim of responsibility was an “open-source, unclassified email referring to an assertion made on a social media site,” CNN reported. He added that the point on an intelligence community was to “assess strands of information and make judgments about what happened and who was responsible.”

President Barack Obama referred to it as an “act of terror” the next day, CNN reported.

MORE: Politicians Question And Criticize Obama For Handling of Libya Attack

The administration also suggested that an anti-Muslim video produced in the U.S. may have likely sparked a spontaneous demonstration in Benghazi similar to that in Cairo, where the U.S. embassy was also attacked.

Read more Neon Tommy stories on Libya here.

Reach Executive Producer Sophie here.





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