White House Told of Benghazi Militants on Sept. 11

An estimated 300 to 400 'national security figures' received emails from Libya day of attack


White House officials were informed that militants had claimed responsibility for the Benghazi attack on the day of the Sept. 11 attack, according to emails from that day.

Although brief, the State Department emails sent from Tripoli describe the attack as it was underway and state the militant Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia had taken credit for the attack. The emails were first reported by Reuters.

An “estimated 300 to 400 national security figures” received the emails, according to Fox News. The messages were sent to the White House Situation Room, Pentagon, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Director of National Intelligence, among others.

The third email indicates the militant group had taken credit, according to Reuters:

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.”

The message reported: “Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli.”

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 Washington Post reported last week that the C.I.A. station chief in Libya alerted the administration that there was evidence militants attacked the U.S. Consulate on Sept. 12.

CBS News also reported earlier this week that an unmanned Predator drone had been sent to Benghazi during the attack on the U.S. Consulate that observed at least part of the assault there.

On Sept. 16, Ambassador Susan Rice attributed the attack on the U.S. Consulate to violent protests stemming from a “heinous and offensive” video.