Officials at the White House and State Department were advised just two hours after the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, that Islamic militants were responsible, according to a new report.
The emails, obtained by Reuters from government sources not connected with U.S. spy agencies or the State Department and who requested anonymity, specifically state that the Libyan group called Ansar al-Sharia claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The emails also show how U.S. diplomats described the attack on the U.S. Embassy by militants with suggested terrorist ties, which claimed the life of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, even as it was still underway.
Administration spokesmen, including White House spokesman Jay Carney, citing an unclassified assessment prepared by the CIA, maintained for days that the attacks likely were a spontaneous protest against an anti-Muslim film on YouTube.
While officials did mention the possible involvement of "extremists" for this "act of terror," they did not lay blame on any specific militant groups or possible links to al Qaeda or its affiliates until intelligence officials publicly alleged it on September 28.
U.S. intelligence officials have emphasized since shortly after the attack that early intelligence reporting about the attack was mixed, and the White House's responsehas become a point of contention during this month's presidential debates.
Spokesmen for the White House and State Department had no immediate comment.
Follow the link to read the full report by Reuters filed earlier Wednesday morning.