October 24, 2012

As Others Report WH Knew Nature of Attack Within Hours, AP Still Insists That the Big Benghazi Issue Is ‘Quality of U.S. Intelligence’

At the Associated Press Tuesday evening, the wire service re-posted verbatim Eileen Sullivan’s “Why It Matters” report from October 15. One of that report’s core assertions is that It “injected the issue of diplomatic security into the presidential campaign and renewed questions about the quality of U.S. intelligence.” At my related  NewsBusters post that day, I noted that  President Obama and administration had ”lots of intelligence within 24 hours of the attack, and that there was no reason to doubt its accuracy.”

Reports Tuesday evening from other news sources — notably not picked up by AP as of 6:45 this morning Eastern Time (the better to possibly keep it from appearing on the morning TV News shows which rely heavily on AP for content) — indicate that the White House knew that the Benghazi attack was terrorism within minutes of its beginning. Excerpts from Reuters and CBS News follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):

(Reuters)

White House told of militant claim two hours after Libya attack: emails

Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show.

The emails, obtained by Reuters from government sources not connected with U.S. spy agencies or the State Department and who requested anonymity, specifically mention that the Libyan group called Ansar al-Sharia had asserted responsibility for the attacks.

The brief emails also show how U.S. diplomats described the attack, even as it was still under way, to Washington.

… The records obtained by Reuters consist of three emails dispatched by the State Department’s Operations Center to multiple government offices, including addresses at the White House, Pentagon, intelligence community and FBI, on the afternoon of September 11.

The first email, timed at 4:05 p.m. Washington time – or 10:05 p.m. Benghazi time, 20-30 minutes after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission allegedly began – carried the subject line “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack” and the notation “SBU”, meaning “Sensitive But Unclassified.”

… A second email, headed “Update 1: U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi” and timed 4:54 p.m. Washington time, said that the Embassy in Tripoli had reported that “the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi had stopped and the compound had been cleared.” It said a “response team” was at the site attempting to locate missing personnel.

A third email, also marked SBU and sent at 6:07 p.m. Washington time, 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.

(CBS News, as reported by Sharyl Attkisson)
Emails detail unfolding Benghazi attack on Sept. 11

It was six weeks ago on Tuesday that terrorists attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Now, CBS News has obtained email alerts that were put out by the State Department as the attack unfolded. Four Americans were killed in the attack, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

These emails contain the earliest description so far of what happened at Benghazi the night of the attack.

… At 4:05 p.m. Eastern time, on September 11, an alert from the State Department Operations Center was issued to a number government and intelligence agencies. Included were the White House Situation Room, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the FBI.

“US Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack” — “approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four COM (Chief of Mission/embassy) personnel are in the compound safe haven.”

At 4:54 p.m., less than an hour later, another alert: “the firing… in Benghazi…has stopped…A response team is on site attempting to locate COM (embassy) personnel.”

Then, at 6:07 p.m., State sent out another alert saying the embassy in Tripoli reported the Islamic military group “Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibilty for Benghazi Attack”… “on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli.”

The emails are just a few in what are likely a large number traded throughout the night. They are likely to become part of the ongoing political debate over whether the administration attempted to mislead in saying the assault was an outgrowth of a protest, rather than a planned attack by terrorists.

Ms. Attkisson, who virtually alone among members of the establishment press exposed much of the Fast and Furious scandal, seriously errs in characterizing disputes over facts as part of a “political debate.” The issue is exactly what happened and when.

The AP’s re-posting of a week-old report questioning the information the White House had instead of questioning the White’s House’s response should be an embarrassment to the self-described Essential Global News Network.”

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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