State Department emails on Benghazi attack leaked - KMSP-TV

State Dept. emails on Benghazi attack challenge initial response

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(FOX News) -- Newly uncovered documents obtained by FOX News show that "within hours" of the Benghazi, Libya attack last month, an al-Qaeda affiliated group had claimed responsibility.

A portion reads: "Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli."

INTERACTIVE: Internal emails on Libya attack

The State Department emails challenge initial statements made by administration officials including U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice.

"But we don't see at this point signs this was a coordinated plan, premeditated attack," Rice said five days after the Benghazi attack.

At that time, administration officials said intelligence assessments were that the assault was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islam film.

"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 a president out there getting briefed on a regular basis," Sen. Saxby Chambliss(R-Georgia) said.

The attack on Sept. 11 killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. One member of the group claiming responsibility, Ansar al-Sharia, has been arrested and is being held in Tunisia. Officials have identified him only as 28-year-old Ali Harzi.

The emails went to an estimated 300 to 400 national security figures. While Republicans say this shows that the administration's response wasn't the result of bad intelligence and instead reveals an effort to spin the loss of an ambassador, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said pointing to those three e-mails as proof is cherry-picking facts.

"Posting something on Facebook is not, in and of itself, evidence, and I think it just underscores how fluid the reporting was at the time and continued for some time to be," she said.

A State Department official recently testified before Congress that anyone in Rice's position would have made the same claims she did at the time.

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