Three emails released today reveal that within approximately two hours after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11, the White House Situation Room was notified by the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, as communicated by the State Department, that Ansar al-Sharia, a group which the State Department has identified as an al-Qaeda affiliate, had taken responsiblity for the terrorist attack. These three emails make it absolutely clear that Obama knew immediately that this was an Al-Qaeda terrorist attack on the U.S. on September 11 and deliberately lied to the U.S. population and the world in order to maintain his campaign mantra that Osama bin Laden is dead and Al-Qaeda has been destroyed.
The emails were obtained by Reuters from government sources not connected with U.S. intelligence agencies or the State Department, and who requested anonymity.
While some information identifying recipients of the messages was redacted from copies 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. Other addressees included intelligence and military units as well as one used by the FBI command center, the source said. It was also sent to the Director of National Intelligence, who later claimed that he provided the intelligence briefing to Susan Rice, on which basis she lied repeatedly on national television on September 16.
The first email was sent at 4:05 p.m. It read: "The Regional Security Officer reports the diplomatic mission is under attack. Embassy Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four COM personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support. The Operations Center will provide updates as available."
At 4:54 p.m. update 1 was sent, which read: "Embassy Tripoli reports the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi has stopped and the compound has been cleared. A response team is on site attempting to locate COM personnel."
At 6:07 p.m. update 2 was sent, entitled: Ansar al Sharia Claims Responsiblity for Benghazi Attack: "Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli."
According to the Official White House schedule Obama had a meeting at 5:00 p.m with Secretary of Defense Panetta. So the President was in the White House when all three messages arrived, including the last message, which reported that an Al-Qaeda affiliate took credit for the attack, which had began at 3:50 p.m. Washington, DC time.
The emails are just a few in what are likely a large number traded throughout the night. The House Oversight Committee told CBS News the information in the emails will be part of their ongoing investigation into the Benghazi attack.
Immediately after emails were revealed, a number of leading Republicans were interviewed. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said that newly obtained emails that provided real-time updates about the attacks, make it "really difficult" to understand how White Officials initially concluded the violence was the result of a spontaneous protest. Rogers said Wednesday during an interview with CNN that the fact that administration officials knew within hours of the terrorist group's claims raised further questions about the White House narrative.
"What I believe happened is that somebody saw something that they thought was the way that they wanted to talk about it, versus what the facts on the ground were," Rogers said. The Michigan lawmaker said that the emails, in conjunction with previous terror attacks on the compound, make it "really hard to come to this conclusion that [the assault] was just spontaneous, and just kind of happened."
Georgia Senator Saxbe Chambliss, the ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said: "We have been asking the State Department for these specific emails for weeks now. And they've refused to give them to us to this point. We — we knew within hours from the intelligence community that Ansar al-Sharia had claimed responsibility for the attack. I don't know what the White House's problem has been through this whole thing. But here's what really concerns me: you've got four Americans dead. You've got an ambassador who is a very important person in any administration, dead. And you don't have the President out there getting briefed on a regular basis? And you don't have the President informing the public about what's happened to four key Americans? Senator Feinstein and I have have already had a couple of conversations about this. I told her, I said I think we need to have an open hearing, which is unusual for us. Most of ours are classified. But we need to have an open hearing, we need to get the intelligence officials in, and just let them lay it out there. This thing is getting more and more traction, more and more legs, and it's getting uglier every day. And I think the thing we need to do, is be honest with the American people and say, here's what we knew, here's when we knew it. Here's what the President knew, and when the President knew it."
John McCain said: "This morning's news, as you know, that there was [sic] emails coming out of Benghazi detailing the — while the attacks were going on. The President of the United States heard about it, went to bed, and the next day went to Las Vegas. Look, this isn't Presidential. And the American people need to know what happened. There's so many conflicting stories. He goes to the U.N. and says it's a hateful video. Ten days later Hillary Clinton throws herself under the bus. Now we're throwing the CIA under the bus. But the President's the one that's responsible. But we now know that they knew that this was an Al Qaida-inspired attack and that it was not a spontaneous — there was no demonstration. Zero. None. And for them to be deceiving the American people like that. They're either deceiving the American people or they're so grossly incompetent they're not fit to govern."