Fox's Van Susteren Misrepresents State Dept. Emails To Rehash Tired Libya Talking Points

Fox host Greta Van Susteren claimed that recently released State Department emails prove that the Obama administration knew the attack in Benghazi, Libya, was an act of terrorism as it was happening and that it was “ridiculous” for the administration to link the attack to an anti-Islam video. Yet the emails show only that the State Department was aware that an Islamist militia had taken credit for the attack, and other reporting has indicated that the anti-Islam video did, in fact, play a role in the attack.

Van Susteren: Obama Admin. “Knew” Attack Was “An Act Of Terror” Immediately, Yet Still Blamed Video

Fox's Van Susteren: “The Obama Administration Knew” Benghazi Attack “Was An Act Of Terror Even As It Happened,” Yet Lied To Blame “Ridiculous Video Story.” On Fox's On the Record, host Greta Van Susteren claimed that, according to State Department emails sent during the September 11 Benghazi attack, the Obama administration “knew in real time -- they knew that night, as they were watching it, that it was this terrorist group that, on their own website, the State Department's website, it says it has a link to Al Qaeda.” Van Susteren continued: “They knew that night. Yet they send Ambassador Rice out, on Sunday the 16th, to go to all those shows and lie. And make up that story about the video.” [Fox News, On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, 10/23/12]

But Emails Show Only That State Dept. Was Aware Militia Had Claimed Responsibility ...

Emails Released By CBS Say That State Dept. Was Aware Ansar Al-Sharia Had “Claim[ed] Responsibility For [The] Benghazi Attack.” An October 23 article on described a series of three email alerts sent from the State Department to a number of government agencies as the attack on the Benghazi compound unfolded. CBS said one of the emails stated that “the embassy in Tripoli reported the Islamic group 'Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibilty [sic] for Benghazi Attack'... 'on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli.' ” The article did not cite any emails or officials who definitively stated on September 11 that the attack was led by a terrorist organization. [, 10/23/12]

... And Reports Have Said Video Played A Role In The Attack

NY Times: “The Attackers” In Benghazi “Did Tell Bystanders That They Were Attacking The Compound Because They Were Angry About The Video.” The New York Times refuted the notion that the anti-Muslim video was a “red herring”:

What do eyewitnesses say about the events in Benghazi? Were they related to the insulting video, or is that a red herring? And was the assault planned for the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, or was it spontaneous?

According to reporting by David D. Kirkpatrick and Suliman Ali Zway of The New York Times, eyewitnesses have said there was no peaceful demonstration against the video outside the compound before the attack, though a crowd of Benghazi residents soon gathered, and some later looted the compound. But the attackers, recognized as members of a local militant group called Ansar al-Shariah, did tell bystanders that they were attacking the compound because they were angry about the video. They did not mention the Sept. 11 anniversary. Intelligence officials believe that planning for the attack probably began only a few hours before it took place. [The New York Times10/17/12]

For more on the report confirming that the anti-Islam video was a catalyst for the Libya attack, click here.