Hillary Clinton and other State Department officials were apparently warned by overseas U.S. diplomats about blaming the 2012 Benghazi terror strikes on an “inflammatory” Internet video, according to an email released Saturday by House Republicans probing the fatal attacks.
The email was sent three days after the fatal Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on a U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, and two days before then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice went on TV to say the attacks were inspired by the anti-Islamic video.
The email -- released by the GOP-led House Select Committee on Benghazi -- was sent from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, to the State Department, which Clinton led from 2009 to 2013. But the names of the exact sender and receiver have been redacted.
“The film’s not as explosive of an issue here as it appears to be in other countries in the region,” the unknown sender wrote. “And it is becoming increasingly clear that the series of events in Benghazi was much more terrorist attack than a protest, which escalated into violence.
“It is our opinion that in our messaging, we want to distinguish, not conflate, the events in other countries with this well planned attack by militant extremists.”
The official writes the suggestion to Washington was based on monitoring the Libyan media, comments on such social media sites as Facebook and Twitter and talking to residents, who expressed “sorrow” about the attacks and “anger” toward the attackers.
U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attacks.
Clinton, now the front-running 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, has testified at least twice before Congress on the Benghazi matter, including earlier this month before the select committee.
When asked during a 2013 Senate hearing about what sparked the attacks, Clinton responded: “The fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?"
“It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.”
On Saturday, select committee spokesman Matt Wolking told FoxNews.com that the email was not part of the batch released Friday by the State Department.
“This email shows that State Department staff privately raised serious concerns about conflating the terrorist attacks in Benghazi with a video,” he also said in a statement, “even as the secretary of state and other Obama administration officials continued to do so publicly.”
Wolking also argued that a former CIA chief said intelligence analysts never said the video was a factor.
“So while Secretary Clinton may use the ‘fog of war’ as a convenient excuse for why she said one thing in private and something else in public, the reality is that’s just another smokescreen,” Wolking said.
Fox News’ Mike Emanuel and James Rosen contributed to this report.