White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday morning that there was “a variety of information coming in” after the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, responding to emails that show that White House and State Department officials were informed within hours that an Al-Qaeda-linked group had taken responsibility.
One of emails, sent two hours after the attack occurred on Sept. 11, said the Ansar al-Sharia group had claimed responsibility for the Libya assault in postings on Facebook and Twitter, Reuters reported.
“There were emails about all sorts of information that was coming available in the aftermath of the attack,” Carney told reporters. “The email you are referring to was an open source email referring to an assertion made on a social media site that everyone in this room has access to and knew about instantaneously.”
Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, were killed in the attack.
“There was a variety of information coming in,” Carney continued. “The whole point of an intelligence community and what they do is to assess strands of information and make judgements about what happened and who was responsible….This is an open source, unclassified email about a posting on a Facebook site. I would also note that within a few hours the organization itself claimed that it had not been responsible. Neither should be taken as fact. That is why there is an investigation.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday also sought to downplay the significance of the emails, particularly with regard to the Facebook claim.
“Posting something on Facebook is not in and of itself evidence and it just underscores how fluid the reporting was at the time and continued for some time to be,” Clinton said. “We will find out what happened we will take whatever measures necessary to fix whatever needs to be fixed and we will bring to justice those who committed these murders.”
This post has been updated.