Two Hours After Benghazi Attack, White House Knew Terrorist Group Took Credit
According to emails obtained by Reuters from government sources, officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit. An email identifying the Libyan group Ansar al-Sharia asserting responsibility for the attack -- which killed U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others -- was sent to addresses including the White House Situation Room, where the president was, no more than 2.5 hours after the attack. In the days following, however, White House spokesman Jay Carney maintained the attacks likely were a spontaneous protest against an anti-Muslim film, and while officials did mention the possible involvement of "extremists," they did not lay blame on any specific militant groups or possible links to al Qaeda until intelligence officials publicly alleged so on Sept. 28. According to Townhall.com blogger Carol Platt Liebau, "Granted, as the [Reuters] story is careful to note, not all intelligence accounts can be immediately credited as automatically accurate in these situations. But what is so shocking about the email Reuters has obtained is that it means that the administration's repeated characterizations of the attack as 'spontaneous' demonstrations in response to a YouTube video -- for two full weeks thereafter -- were knowingly, hideously false, misleading and incomplete." Spokesmen for the White House and State Department had no immediate response to requests by Reuters for comments on the emails.