WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warns that the emails released Tuesday regarding U.S. Consulate attack in Benghazi are not definitive evidence the White House knew immediately that it was a terrorist attack.
The emails obtained by CBS News give a two-hour assessment by the State Department of what was taking place in Benghazi.
Clinton states that the emails are “not in and of itself evidence.”
“I think it just underscores how fluid the reporting was at the time, and continued for some time to be,” Clinton said, according to CBS News. The secretary added that people shouldn’t be “cherry picking one story here or one document there.”
The first email sent from the State Department Operations Center to such agencies as the White House Situation Room, the FBI and the office of the Director of National Intelligence, among others, at 4:05 p.m. on Sept. 11 stated that the Benghazi compound was under attack.
“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 next email, which came at 4:54 p.m., said that firing at the Consulate “has stopped and the compound has been cleared.” Officials said that a response team was on site to locate the American personnel.
The final email that came at 6:07 p.m. states that terror group Ansar al-Sharia claimed responsibility for the attack.
“Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney echoed Clinton’s statement.
“There were emails about all sorts of information that was becoming available in the aftermath of the attack,” Carney said, according to The Associated Press. “The whole point of an intelligence community and what they do is to assess strands of information and make judgments about what happened and who is responsible.”
The White House has been slammed by critics saying that the administration did not do enough to protect personnel in Libya and tried to conceal the fact that it was a terror attack.
Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans died in the Libya attacks. On Wednesday, Tunisia officials said a 28-year-old Tunisian in Libya was taken into custody after being linked to the attacks.
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