CBS News has obtained State Department email sent as the Benghazi attack unfolded containing timely and accurate descriptions of the attack.

The State Department Operations Center alerted the White House Situation Room, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the FBI of the attack  on September 11 at 4:05 p.m. Eastern time:

“US Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack” — “approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four COM (Chief of Mission/embassy) personnel are in the compound safe haven.”

To see a PDF copy of the email:;contentBody

An updaye was sent out at 4:54 p.m.: “the firing… in Benghazi…has stopped…A response team is on site attempting to locate COM (embassy) personnel.”

By 6:07 p.m., State forwarded a report from the embassy in Tripoli that the Islamic military group “Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibilty for Benghazi Attack”… “on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli.”

It is becoming clear that there was a high level of timely awareness of the nature and scope of the Benghazi attack.  Other stores have detailed response options and timelines.  We can’t dig an infantry company in around every consulate, but since the Iranian embassy was seized, we have put millions of dollars of effort into plans and options for rescuing diplomats.  Let’s get back in the game.

AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon, File