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Entries in Consulate (3)

Thursday
Nov012012

New Detailed Account of Benghazi Attack Notes CIA’s Quick Response

STR/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- Intelligence officials have disclosed a new detailed timeline of the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, acknowledging the CIA played a greater role in responding to the attack than has previously been disclosed.  A senior U.S. intelligence official also insisted that the CIA security team that initially responded to the attack was not given orders “to stand down in providing support,” as had been suggested in media reports.

The timeline provided by a senior U.S. intelligence official gives the first precise account of how CIA security teams provided the first response to the Sept. 11 attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

The attack has become a political hot potato in the presidential campaign, with conservatives accusing the administration of not being transparent.  The State Department has previously released a detailed account of the night’s events, but did not acknowledge a CIA role in the response.  The timeline given by a senior Intelligence official confirms that the facility previously described by the State Department as an annex, was in fact, a facility housing CIA security officers.  It does not provide any additional details on the current intelligence assessment that the attack was an opportunistic result of earlier protests that day outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo over an anti-Muslim movie.

The official says there was “no second guessing” of those on the ground in Libya by senior officials either in Libya or Washington.

“There were no orders to anybody to stand down in providing support,” said the official.  The official’s comments appeared to be a direct rebuttal of a Fox News report that CIA teams on the ground had been told by superior officers to “stand down” from providing security support to the consulate.

According to the official, upon learning of the attack at the consulate, the security team at the annex responded “as quickly and effectively as possible.”  The official described how the security team tried to rally additional support from local Libyan forces and heavier weapons, but that when that could not be accomplished “within minutes” they moved out to the compound. The official called the security team “genuine heroes” who risked their lives to save those at the compound.

According to the new timeline the annex received a call at 9:40 p.m. local time that the consulate was coming under attack. A team of six CIA security operatives left the annex for the mission within 25 minutes of that call.

Over the next 25 minutes the security team approached the compound and attempted to secure heavy weapons.  They encountered heavy enemy fire when they entered the consulate compound to locate Stevens and the other Americans who were there at the time of the attack.

At 11:11 p.m., an unarmed U.S. military surveillance drone arrived over the compound.  U.S. officials have told ABC News that the drone had been redirected to Benghazi from an ongoing mission elsewhere in Libya.

By 11:30pm, all of the Americans, with the exception of the missing Stevens, had left the compound in vehicles that immediately came under fire.

The annex itself came under sporadic small arms and RPG fire for the next 90 minutes before the attackers eventually dispersed.

At around 1 a.m. an additional CIA  team of about six security officers from the embassy in Tripoli had arrived at Benghazi.  U.S. officials have acknowledged that the embassy in Tripoli had chartered an aircraft to take the team to Benghazi.  The official disclosed the new detail that two U.S. military officers were part of the team that flew in from Tripoli.

Upon learning that the situation at the annex had calmed down, the team that came in from Tripoli initially wanted to focus their attention on locating Stevens, who had been taken to a local hospital.

When the team finally managed to secure transportation and an armed escort into Benghazi, they learned that Stevens  “was almost certainly dead and that the security situation at the hospital was uncertain.”  At that point they headed to the annex to help evacuate the Americans located there .

They arrived at the annex at  5:15 a.m.,  just before mortar rounds begin to hit the complex.  The attack killed two security officers, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, who were located on the annex’s roof.   Doherty had been part of the security team that had flown in from Tripoli.  The new attack on the annex lasted only 11 minutes.

Less than an hour later everyone at the annex was evacuated with the help of  "a heavily armed Libyan military unit."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct232012

Email Alerts Describe Benghazi Consulate Assault Unfolding

John Foxx/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A series of email alerts sent as Obama administration officials monitored the attack on the U.S consulate in Benghazi last month are the latest to shine light on the chaotic events that culminated in the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

The names of the individual recipients of the emails, first reported by CBS News but independently obtained by ABC News Tuesday evening, are redacted. A source who requested anonymity said it appears they are sent by the State Department Operations Center to distribution lists and email accounts for the top national security officials at the State Department, Pentagon, the FBI, the White House Situation Room and the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The first email, with a subject line of “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack,” sent at 4:05 p.m., about 25 minutes after the attack began, describes an assault on the compound by 20 armed people.

“The Regional Security Officer reports the diplomatic mission is under attack,” the email states. “Embassy Tripoli reports 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) personnel are in the compound safe haven,” the email continues. “The 17th of February militia is providing security support.”

The next email sent at 4:54 p.m. states that the shooting has stopped and the compound was cleared, adding that a response team was “onsite attempting to locate COM personnel.”

The third email updates officials that Ansar al-Sharia claimed responsibility for the Benghazi attack on Facebook and Twitter, and has threatened to attack the Tripoli embassy.

The timing of the emails is consistent with what a senior State Department official told reporters at a briefing on Oct. 9.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep182012

Sec. Clinton Says No ‘Actionable Intelligence’ on Benghazi Attack

State Dept(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters Tuesday the intelligence surrounding the U.S. consulate in Benghazi did not indicate that the consulate was under a specific threat before it was attacked last week.

“With all of our missions overseas in advance of Sept. 11, as is done every year, we did an evaluation of threat streams,” said Clinton. "The office of the director of National Intelligence has said we have no actionable intelligence that an attack on our post in Benghazi was planned or imminent.”

Clinton’s comments echo what United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice said on ABC’s This Week, where she said all indications were that extremists “hijacked” a “spontaneous” protest.

The secretary said that the attacks are the work of extremists taking advantage of the widespread outrage over the anti-Muslim video being widely circulated on the Internet.

“There are extremists in all of these this societies and on the outside who are working to take advantage of broad outrage in order to incite violence and specifically incite violence against Americans and American facilities,” she said.

Since the attack, which lasted nearly five hours and resulted in the deaths of four diplomats, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, questions have emerged about the security for both the consulate and the ambassador.  Clinton gave further details about the measures taken, including a “robust” security presence inside the compound, which was surrounded by a wall.

“Let me assure our security in Benghazi included a unit of host government forces, as well as a local guard force of the kind that we rely on in many places around the world,” Clinton told reporters.   

Last Friday, State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland emphatically told reporters that none of the security provided at the Benghazi consulate were provided by a private security firm.

“All of the security in Libya has been done by Libyans, by American government personnel, and then to a very limited extent these individual contracts with individual security personnel, but there was never a contract with a company, and there was never a plan to have a contract with a company,” she said.

But Tuesday, Nuland corrected her original statement, telling reporters that in fact the State Department did hire a private security company, a British firm called the Blue Mountain Group, which Nuland said has a permit to operate within Libya to hire local security guards.

“They were hired to provide local Libyan guards who operated inside the gate doing things like operating the security access equipment, screening the cars, that kind of thing,” said Nuland.

Blue Mountain says on its website that it provides both security and training and has recently operated in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and other dangerous places for clients ranging from Google to Cadburys.

Wired reported that the company signed a six-figure contract with the State Department to protect the consulate four months ago. Nuland said that the company remains on contract, “pending a full assessment of the security situation.”

Clinton didn’t speak specifically to where the guards protecting the consulate in Benghazi were from but did say the State Department is now taking aggressive steps to protect its employees, consulates and embassies around the world, and is reviewing security at every post.

Clinton also confirmed that the FBI is now in Libya, working with local officials on the investigation and stressed that there will be justice for the four murdered diplomats.

“We will not rest until the people who orchestrated this attack are found and punished,” the secretary said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio