(CBS News) The political fallout from the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi last month continues this week assent during the assault show the U.S. was aware that an Islamist group known as Ansar al-Sharia was publicly claiming responsibility roughly two hours after the violence began.
Critics of the administration have pounced on the messages as proof that the White House knew all along that the attacks were a planned terrorist action even as officials for days claimed they were linked to spontaneous protests. But Secretary of State Hillary Clintonin assessing the emails' significance, saying Wednesday that "posting something on Facebook is not in and of itself evidence, and I think it just underscores how fluid the reporting was at the time."
CBS News senior correspondent and former FBI deputy director John Miller also warned against judging the situation "in a vacuum" and added that intelligence gathering often unfolds in an opaque way.
"You're watching real time intelligence come in, flash reports from the scene," he said. "You get that information, you analyze it, you get new information, you reassess, you're constantly updating."
Miller said that the fallout has been intensified because it is taking place "in the middle of a hotly contested election" but said "everything is just the way it always goes, it's just being distorted."
Meanwhile, the FBI is trying to gain access to a Tunisian national named Ali ani al-Harzi who is suspected of being involved in the Benghazi attack and is.
Al-Harzi was detained weeks ago in Turkey but was deported to Tunisia before FBI investigators could interview him there.
According to the Daily Beast, al-Harzi appeared on the radar of U.S. intelligence after posting messages to social media during the attack - perhaps the same messages that led to the State Department email referencing Ansar al Sharia's claims of responsibility.
Regarding al Harzi's posts, Miller said "that probably doesn't make him a leader of of Ansar al-Sharia, but it may mean he has access to a leader who instructed him ... they believe he was there at the scene of the attack, not just posting information."