Clinton e-mails reveal Benghazi militant fears

2015-05-21 21:07
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives for a roundtable with educators and students at the Kirkwood Community College's Jones County Regional Centre, Iowa. (Charlie Neibergall, AP)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives for a roundtable with educators and students at the Kirkwood Community College's Jones County Regional Centre, Iowa. (Charlie Neibergall, AP)

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Washington - One day after a deadly 2012 attack on a US mission in Libya, then secretary of state Hillary Clinton was told confidentially al-Qaeda linked militants were likely behind the assault, a US daily said on Thursday, publishing some of her e-mails.

Yet it took several days for the White House to admit it was probing whether al-Qaeda had any links to the storming of the mission in Benghazi in which US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

The State Department is poised to release a batch of e-mails that Clinton - now bidding to be the next president - sent from her private e-mail address during her four-year tenure as secretary of state.

But some of her correspondence obtained by the New York Times Thursday gave an insight into Clinton's early concerns in 2011 about the disintegration of Libya, as well as casting light on the shadowy world of intelligence gathering.

Most of the e-mails were sent to Clinton from her long-time advisor and friend Sidney Blumenthal, quoting "sensitive" sources with direct access to top Libyan officials. They contain few comments from Clinton.

On September 12, 2012, in the chaotic aftermath of the September 11 attack, Blumenthal sent Clinton a memo by e-mail marked "confidential" in which he said then Libyan president Mohammed Megaryef had been told the attacks were "inspired by what many devout Libyans viewed as a sacrilegious internet video".

But only hours later, Blumenthal sent another long e-mail marked "just in" from his mobile phone.

"Libyan security officials believe that the attack was carried out by forces of the Islamist militia group calling itself the Ansar al-Sharia brigade; working out of camps in the eastern suburbs of Benghazi," it stated.

Clinton forwarded the e-mail from her account ( to her trusted foreign policy advisor Jake Sullivan, saying: "We should get this around asap."

Yet, top White House security advisor Susan Rice went on the Sunday television talk shows that week to insist that the attack arose from a "spontaneous" demonstration.

Cover-up accusations

The Clinton e-mails have been demanded by a special congressional committee set up by Republicans who accuse the administration of covering up what really happened at Benghazi.

Revelations that Clinton used a private server and a private e-mail address when she was secretary of state have also raised Republican hackles as the clock ticks down to the 2016 presidential elections.

She has turned over some 30 000 e-mails amounting to 55 000 pages to the State Department, which is reviewing them to black out classified information before releasing them.

The few e-mails obtained by the Times all dealt with Libya and included a warning from another advisor against arming Libyan rebels before the death of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

"Boys like to play with guns [trust me as a mother of sons]. I am all for saying we have no objection to French doing it to increase pressure on Gaddafi [sic], but in a tribal society where conflicts have been repressed for so long, adding even more weapons does not make sense," wrote Anne-Marie Slaughter in April 2011.

Read more on:    hillary clinton  |  libya  |  us

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