Breaking: WH had info on ID of Benghazi attackers within 2 hours
posted at 1:20 pm on October 24, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
Earlier intimations about “the fog of war” and mixed messages about what transpired in Benghazi on Sept. 11 were dealt a deadly blow today. Three emails obtained by Reuters and reproduced here reveal unequivocally that the Libyan group known as Ansar al-Sharia claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The emails, writes Mark Hosenball of Reuters, were sent by “government sources not connected with U.S. spy agencies or the State Department and who requested anonymity.”
The immediate source of the emails was the State Department’s Operations Center. The missives were addressed to multiple government offices, including addresses at the White House, Pentagon, intelligence community and FBI. The date of transmission was Sept. 11.
The first email, sent at 4:05 p.m. Washington time (10:05 p.m. Benghazi time), was dispatched 20 to 30 minutes into the fray and carried the subject line “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack” and the notation “SBU,” shot for “Sensitive But Unclassified.”
A second email, headed “Update 1: U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi,” was transmitted at 4:54 p.m. Washington time. The two-sentence message read, “Embassy in Tripoli reports the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi had stopped and the compound had been cleared. A response team is on site attempting to locate COM personnel.”
A third email was received two hours later at 6:07 p.m. Washington time. It carried the subject line: “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack.”
While some information identifying recipients of this message was redacted from copies of the messages obtained by Reuters, a government source said that one of the addresses to which the message was sent was the White House Situation Room, the president’s secure command post.
The emails fly in the face of claims made for days following by the White House, including the president himself, that the attacks were likely a spontaneous protest provoked by an anti-Muslim film. As Hosenball notes, officials did mention the possible involvement of “extremists” but were loath to lay blame on any specific militant groups or possible links to al Qaeda.
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