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Homeland Security

Clinton Pushes Back on Leaked Libya Emails

RIA Novosti

21:55 24/10/2012 WASHINGTON, October 24 (RIA Novosti) - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday downplayed new evidence showing top American officials were told hours after last month’s deadly assault on a US embassy compound in Libya that a militant Islamist group had taken responsibility for the assault.

Emails obtained and reported this week by Reuters show that two hours after the Sept. 11 attack, the State Department’s operations center informed officials at the White House, the Pentagon, the FBI and in the intelligence community that a Libyan group called Ansar al-Sharia had claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter.

Members of President Barack Obama’s administration stated in the weeks following the Sept. 11 attack that the storming of the compound came amid spontaneous protests over an anti-Islam video posted on YouTube.

The assault by armed militants left four Americans dead, including the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.

Clinton told reporters Wednesday that the emails were examples of people “cherry-picking” evidence.

“Posting something on Facebook is not in and of itself evidence,” Clinton told reporters Wednesday. “And I think it just underscores how fluid the reporting was at the time and continued for some time to be.”

Reuters said it obtained the three emails from anonymous “government sources not connected with US spy agencies or the State Department.”

The emails included redacted addresses for some recipients, Reuters reported. But a government source said the White House Situation Room, the US president’s secure command post, was among the recipients, the news agency reported.

Obama and members of his administration have said the statements they made in the aftermath of the attack were based on the best available intelligence and information at the time.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday abo ard the US president’s plane, Air Force One, that in the aftermath of the attack, “there were emails about all sorts of information that was coming available,” Fox News reported.

“I think within a few hours that organization itself claimed that it had not been responsible,” Fox News cited Carney as saying. “Neither should be taken as fact.”

Republican congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan, chairman of the US House of Representatives’ intelligence committee, told CNN that the emails clearly undercut the version of events that the White House gave to the public following the attack.

“What I believe happened is that somebody saw something that they thought was the way that they wanted to talk about it, versus what the facts on the ground were,” Rogers told CNN.

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