Among the 55,000 pages of emails former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton provided to the State Department last year are hundreds of pages related to the 2012 Benghazi attacks and the situation in Libya. The New York Times’ Michael Schmidt got an advanced look at the emails, which include a warning from U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
The email from Stevens, marked “sensitive but unclassified,” was sent nearly a year and a half before the deadly Benghazi attacks and shows he thought about leaving Libya due to the deteriorating situation.
In another email, sent on Sept. 13, 2012, Clinton is provided information indicating that an Islamist militia group, Ansar al Sharia, was responsible for the terror attacks. Initially, the Obama administration infamously blamed the attack that killed four Americans on an anti-Muslim YouTube video.
“These officials do believe that the attackers having prepared to launch their assault took advantage of the cover provided by the demonstrations in Benghazi protesting an internet production seen as disrespectful to the prophet Mohammed,” the email stated.
“We should get this around asap,” Clinton wrote.
However, Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime friend and adviser to Clinton, just the day before blamed the attacks on “demonstrations.” More from the New York Times:
The day after the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on American outposts in Benghazi that killed Mr. Stevens and three other Americans, Mr. Blumenthal sent Mrs. Clinton a memo with his intelligence about what had occurred. The memo said the attacks were by “demonstrators” who “were inspired by what many devout Libyan viewed as a sacrilegious internet video on the prophet Mohammed originating in America.” Mrs. Clinton forwarded the memo to Mr. Sullivan, saying “More info.” (Pages 193-195)
A different memo offered the more descriptive account of what happened in Benghazi:
The next day, Mr. Blumenthal sent Mrs. Clinton a more thorough account of what had occurred. Citing “sensitive sources” in Libya, the memo provided extensive detail about the episode, saying that the siege had been set off by members of Ansar al-Shariah, the Libyan terrorist group. Those militants had ties to Al Qaeda, had planned the attacks for a month and had used a nearby protest as cover for the siege, the memo said. “We should get this around asap” Mrs. Clinton said in an email to Mr. Sullivan. “Will do,” he responded. That information contradicted the Obama administration’s narrative at the time about what had spawned the attacks. Republicans have said the administration misled the country about the attacks because it did not want to undermine the notion that President Obama, who was up for re-election, was winning the war on terrorism. (Pages 200-203)
You can review all of the 349 pages of emails obtained by the Times here.
This week, a district court judge ruled that the agency must set a timetable to release the 55,000 remaining pages. The portion of the emails about the events in Libya have already been given for review to a special House panel investigating the attacks. They are expected to be released by the State Department in the coming days after months of delay.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story has been updated.