The United States knew early on that the attack was not a spontaneous demonstration prompted by an anti-Muslim video as the intelligence community and administration officials said at first.
Petraeus in particular has been criticized by a number of lawmakers for telling members of Congress in a secret briefing three days after the attack that the incident was a spontaneous result of the protests.
That was repeated by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on subsequent Sunday TV talk shows.CNN’s Barbara Starr reported that within a day or so of the attack, the intelligence community began to gather information suggesting it was the work of extremists either affiliated with al Qaeda groups or inspired by al Qaeda.
E-mails obtained by CNN last month indicated that within 30 minutes of the start of the attack, the State Department informed diplomatic officials, the White House, the Director of National Intelligence, the Pentagon and the FBI that it was underway and that Stevens was in the compound.And just two hours later, one of the e-mails said the Libyan extremist group Ansar al Sharia was claiming responsibility on social media websites.
“Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli,” the e-mail stated.
Rogers told CNN those e-mails, along with other information, demonstrate it was not spontaneous.
However, intelligence officials said any initial claim of responsibility on a social media site is not considered reliable