I just saw this story show up on Reuters Breaking News feed:
WASHINGTON — Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show.http://today.msnbc.msn.com/...
The emails, obtained by Reuters from government sources not connected with U.S. spy agencies or the State Department and who requested anonymity, specifically mention that the Libyan group called Ansar al-Sharia had asserted responsibility for the attacks.
The brief emails also show how U.S. diplomats described the attack, even as it was still under way, to Washington.[...]
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.
Other addressees included intelligence and military units as well as one used by the FBI command center, the source said.[...]
One U.S. intelligence official said that during the first classified briefing about Benghazi given to members of Congress, officials "carefully laid out the full range of sparsely available information, relying on the best analysis available at the time."
The official added, however, that the initial analysis of the attack that was presented to legislators was mixed.
"Briefers said extremists were involved in attacks that appeared spontaneous, there may have been a variety of motivating factors, and possible links to groups such as (al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Ansar al-Sharia) were being looked at closely," the official said.
I imagine FOX and others will run with this, but the fact is that during the chaos of that day mixed reports were coming in from Libya and the White House conveyed those mixed reports.
Recent history has shown us the cost of a White House acting rashly based on preliminary intelligence reports which are often wrong.
UPDATE: White House response
White House officials maintained that the emails don't contradict what the White House believed at that point, based on the intelligence community's assessment of the attack. The views of the intelligence community are valued far more than Facebook and twitter claims, officials said, describing that email as an unclassified ops alert email, not a vetted intelligence assessment. It was not definitive, but rather the act of flagging open source reporting referencing a Facebook post, and - officials noted - on September 17, Ansar al-Sharia denied responsibility for the attack.http://news.yahoo.com/...
Carney today told reporters that there were emails about all sorts of information that was coming available in the aftermath of the attack. "There was a variety of information coming in," Carney said. "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 was responsible."
Moreover, officials said, the intelligence community still believes there wasn't a tremendous amount of planning before the attack. A terrorist group carrying it out doesn't mean it wasn't an opportunistic attack, officials said.