According to a government document, the White House was told that a militant group was claiming responsibility for the violent attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya within hours of the attack.
A state department email to intelligence officials and the White House situation room said Ansar al-Sharia claimed responsibility on facebook and twitter. The group also called for an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.
The document could fuel republican efforts to show that the White House knew it was a terrorist attack while the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations was saying it looked like a protest gone awry.
The Associated Press and several other news organizations obtained the unclassified email from government officials who requested anonymity. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton says the emails do not tell the whole story. Clinton told reporters that the claim of responsibility was posted on facebook and is, "not in and of itself evidence."
Four Americans died during the attack including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya.