Soon after the emails’ release, Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren bluntly accused the White House of lying about the attack in Benghazi. And Fox News contributor Liz Cheney joined in this morning, claiming falsely that the Obama administration definitively blamed an anti-Muslim YouTube video rather than saying that an investigation was ongoing. Cheney wanted even more pressing answers as well:
CHENEY: Mr. President, did you go to sleep that night while you knew that attack was underway? Our consulate was under attack, our Ambassador was missing, did you go to bed without any action, doing anything to prevent that attack, doing anything to stop the attack and save those people. And if so, why did you wait seven hours?
Watch Cheney’s interview here:
But the reality is that the new emails reflect the current knowledge on what the administration and the intelligence community knew in developing their response to Benghazi. According to talking points prepared by the CIA for the Obama administration and Congress, initial analysis indicated that the “Innocence of Muslims” played a large role in the impetus for the attack on the mission in Benghazi. More recent reporting has confirmed that the video played at least some role in the genesis of the assault.
Processing raw intelligence into a coherent analysis involves combing through multiple reports, sifting for corroboration between stories and attempting to thread them together into a narrative. The initial report is almost always heavily hedged and changes frequently as more information is acquired. The new emails were likely part of the initial analysis and were deemed unable to be confirmed. It’s worth noting that in one of the emails, Ansar al-Sharia also called for an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, which never materialized. While interesting, the new emails remain a data point, not the start of a new narrative on Benghazi.