For weeks, many of us have been amazed at not only Barack Obama's continuing cover-up of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, but also with the media's unwillingness to pursue a story that reeks of scandal, lies, and incompetence. Now, new e-mails reveal that White House officials knew within hours that Americans were under siege by a terrorist organization, and nothing was done about it.
As reported by Reuters, "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."
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.
U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the Benghazi assault, which President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials ultimately acknowledged was a "terrorist" attack carried out by militants with suspected links to al Qaeda affiliates or sympathizers.
Administration spokesmen, including White House spokesman Jay Carney, citing an unclassified assessment prepared by the CIA, maintained for days that the attacks likely were a spontaneous protest against an anti-Muslim film.
The Washington Times notes that one e-mail describing the terrorist organization was received within two hours of the start of the attack.
The White House's national security staff and officials at the State Department and FBI and in the U.S. military were informed within hours of last month's lethal attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that a local extremist group had claimed responsibility, according to State Department emails leaked to news outlets and posted on the Internet.
One email, sent at 6:07 p.m. Washington time, or about two hours after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi had started, carried the subject line: "Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack."
Ansar al-Sharia, which means "supporters of Sharia" -- Islamic law -- in Arabic, is a name that analysts say networks of al Qaeda supporters in Libya, Tunisia and elsewhere have been using since the Arab Spring overthrew pro-Western dictators and roiled the region.
This is tragic to say the least. Ambassador Chris Stevens knew that al Qaeda activity was on the rise. He begged for more security... even on the day he died. All requests were ignored. That's a fact.
But now, with these e-mails, there are more disturbing questions. The obvious ones deserve repeating.
* EVERYONE in Obama's world knew this was a terrorist attack... not days later, but within hours. And yet, he perpetuated a lie -- that this was a spontaneous attack over an anti-Muslim Internet video -- for weeks. Why?
* He sent his U.N. Ambassador to all the TV shows. All she did was mention the video. Obama spoke of the video six times during his U.N. speech. He never mentioned it was a terrorist attack. Why? Why the cover up?
But there are other questions. If the attack was known, why not do something about it?
As Fox News reports, there was a Predator drone over the Benghazi compound. Officials knew what was going on. In addition, "the Pentagon said it moved a team of special operators from Central Europe to Sigonella, Italy -- about an hour flight from Libya. Why weren't they called in?
In a report from CBS News, a simple question is being asked, "Why didn't the military help?" Keep in mind that the attack went on for over seven hours.
Retired CIA officer Gary Berntsen believes help could have come much sooner. He commanded CIA counter-terrorism missions targeting Osama bin Laden and led the team that responded after bombings of the U.S. Embassy in East Africa.
"You find a way to make this happen," Berntsen says. "There isn't a plan for every single engagement. Sometimes you have to be able to make adjustments. They made zero adjustments in this. They stood and they watched and our people died."
The Pentagon says it did move a team of special operators from central Europe to the large Naval Air Station in Sigonella, Italy, but gave no other details. Sigonella is just an hour's flight from Libya. Other nearby bases include Aviano and Souda Bay. Military sources tell CBS News that resources at the three bases include fighter jets and Specter AC-130 gunships, which the sources say can be extremely effective in flying in and buzzing a crowd to disperse it.
Was Obama asleep at the wheel? Remember, the day after the attack, he was off to another fundraising event. It's clear there is a cover-up. This was not an attack spurred on by an Internet video. It was a terrorist act. So, why did Obama perpetuate a lie for so long? And as commander-in-chief (a phrase he loved throwing around in the third debate), why didn't he do anything to help?