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Thursday, January 23, 2014

BENGHAZI: THE TERRORIST ATTACK OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2012 [Part 1]

Benghazigate Scandal

Discover The Networks has an excellent summary of Benghazigate to the point which leaves little doubt that the neglect requires at the least some blame of top Obama officials and at worst the impeachment of President Barack Hussein Obama.
This is a bit lengthier than I thought for a blog post. Due to the length I am going to divide DTN’s original into two separate posts. I suggest you either bookmark my two part delivery or DTN’s original. This is valuable information for voters to stay informed to cast their next vote.
JRH 1/22/14
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BENGHAZI: THE TERRORIST ATTACK OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2012
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This report examines the most significant events that occurred before, during, and after the September 11, 2012 Islamic terrorist attacks against an American special mission (and a nearby CIA annex) in Benghazi, Libya.

In March 2011, American diplomat Christopher Stevens was stationed in Benghazi as the American liaison to Libya's “opposition” rebels—among whom were many al Qaeda-affiliated jihadists—who were fighting to topple the longstanding regime of President Muammar Qaddafi. Ambassador Stevens' task was to help coordinate covert U.S. assistance to these rebels.

Following Qaddafi's fall from power in the summer of 2011, Ambassador Stevens was tasked with finding and securing the vast caches of powerful armaments which the Libyan dictator had amassed during his long reign. In turn, Stevens facilitated the transfer of these arms to the “opposition” rebels in Syria who were trying to topple yet another Arab dictator—Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. As in Libya, the rebels in Syria were likewise known to include al Qaeda and other Shariah-supremacist groups. In addition to facilitating arms transfers, Stevens' duties also included the recruitment of Islamic jihadists from Libya and elsewhere in North Africa who were willing to personally go into combat against the Assad regime in Syria. The U.S. mission in Benghazi served as a headquarters from which all the aforementioned activities could be coordinated with officials and diplomats from such countries as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.

Throughout 2012, violent jihadist activity became increasingly commonplace in Benghazi and elsewhere throughout Libya and North Africa. At or near the U.S. mission in Benghazi, for instance, there were many acts of terrorism featuring the use of guns, improvised explosive devices, hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades, and car-bombs, along with explicit threats against Americans issued by known terrorists like al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri. As a result of such developments, Ambassador Stevens and others at the U.S. mission in Benghazi repeatedly asked the Obama administration for increased security provisions during 2012, but these requests were denied or ignored.

Then, on the night of September 11, 2012, the U.S. mission in Benghazi was attacked by a large group of heavily armed terrorists. Over the ensuing 7 hours, Americans stationed at the mission and at the nearby CIA annex issued 3 urgent requests for military back-up, all of which were denied by the Obama administration. By the time the violence was over, 4 Americans were dead: Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and two former Navy SEALS, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, who fought to drive away the attackers.

The Obama administration immediately and persistently characterized what had occurred in Benghazi not as an act of terrorism, but as a spontaneous, unplanned uprising that happened, coincidentally, to take place on the anniversary of 9/11. Moreover, the administration portrayed the attack as an event that had evolved from what began as a low-level protest against an obscure YouTube video that disparaged Muslims and their faith. In reality, however, within a few hours following the attack, U.S. intelligence agencies had already gained more than enough evidence to conclude unequivocally that the attack on the mission in Benghazi was a planned terrorist incident, not a spontaneous act carried out in reaction to a video. Indeed, the video had nothing whatsoever to do with the attack.

Given these realities, it is likely that the Obama administration's post-September 11 actions were aimed at drawing public attention away from a number of highly important facts:
o   the U.S. mission in Benghazi had never adopted adequate security measures;
o   the administration had ignored dozens of warning signs about growing Islamic extremism and jihadism in the region over a period of more than 6 months;
o   the administration, for political reasons, had ignored or denied repeated requests for extra security by American diplomats stationed in Benghazi;
o   the administration had failed to beef up security even for the anniversary of 9/11, a date of obvious significance to terrorists;
o   the administration, fully cognizant of what was happening on the ground during the September 11 attacks in Benghazi, nonetheless denied multiple calls for help by Americans who were stationed there;
o   the administration had been lying when, throughout the presidential election season, it relentlessly advanced the notion that "al Qaeda is on the run" and Islamic terrorism was in decline thanks to President Obama's policies;
o   the administration had hired members of the February 17th Martyrs' Brigade, a Libyan militia group with clear al Qaeda sympathies, to provide security at the U.S. mission in Benghazi; and
o   throughout 2011 and 2012 the administration had been lending its assistance to jihadists affiliated with al Qaeda, supposedly the organization that represented the prime focus of Obama's anti-terrorism efforts; moreover, some of those same jihadists had personally fought against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.        
This section of Discover The Networks explores the significance of the events in Benghazi and of the Obama administration's response to those events.

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BENGHAZI: THE TERRORIST ATTACK OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2012

What Exactly Was the U.S. “Consulate” in Benghazi, Libya?


Though the media have often referred to the Benghazi-based U.S. facility which was attacked by terrorists on September 11, 2012 as a “consulate,” it should rightfully be called a “special mission.” For an explanation of this,
click here.

Lack of Security at the U.S. Mission in Benghazi

The U.S. Department of State website
emphasizes
the great importance of implementing adequate security measures at all American missions around the world:
“With terrorist organizations and coalitions operating across international borders, the threat of terrorism against U.S. interests remains great. Therefore, any U.S. mission overseas can be a target even if identified as being in a low-threat environment. As a result, [Diplomatic Security] is more dedicated than ever to its mission of … implementing security programs that shield U.S. missions and residences overseas from physical and technical attack.”
But security at the American mission in Benghazi lacked the multiple layers of security that are typically present at such posts—i.e., it was not protected by a contingent of U.S. Marines, nor did it have bulletproof glass, reinforced ballistic doors, a “safe room,” three-meter-high barriers surrounding the facility, or a 100-foot setback from the building to those barriers. In order to operate a mission with such low levels of security in place, a waiver from Washington would have been required.

There was also an inadequate number of security personnel at the mission in Benghazi. According to Eric Nordstrom, former Regional Security Officer (RSO) at the U.S. Embassy in Libya, security at the Benghazi facility was “
inappropriately low.” Nordstrom reports that there were never, at any time, more than three direct-hire U.S. security agents assigned to the compound, and he has testified that “in deference to sensitivity to Libyan practice, the guards at Benghazi were unarmed.”

Sometimes only a single guard was stationed at the U.S. mission in Benghazi. On such occasions, the lone agent depended upon support from members of the February 17 Martyrs Brigade (F17MB) who lived in the compound. F17MB is a Libyan
militia led by Fawzi Bukatef, who has known ties to both the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda, as well as other Islamist fighters. Notably, numerous entries on F17MB's Facebook pages openly professed sympathy for the Islamist extremist group Ansar al-Sharia. The banner, or “cover photo” of one such page showed an Islamic fighter, or mujahid, holding a portable rocket launcher on his shoulder. To the man's right, attached to the vehicle in which he was riding, was the distinctive black flag of al Qaeda. Moreover, the mujahid wore a headband based on the design of that flag.

U.S. personnel in Benghazi did not have confidence in the ability of F17MB to provide adequate security for them, as evidenced by the following exchange --
during
a House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform hearing on May 8, 2013 -- between Rep. Patrick Meehan and Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom:
MEEHAN: Did you have confidence in the ability of the locals in the country who were purportedly designed to provide security for you? Did you have confidence in their ability to provide that?

NORDSTROM: I think, to put it succinctly, it was the best bad plan. It was the only thing we had.

MEEHAN: … Did you have confidence in that?

NORDSTROM: No.

MEEHAN: Did you report that, at any point in time, to officials in Washington, DC?

NORDSTROM: We did. We did note the training deficiencies in particular. That was something that was always there. Certainly we had also raised the issue of doing some sort of counter-intelliogence (sic) vetting of the people that worked for us. Ultimately that was turned down, even though we wanted it ... (Source: May 8, 2013 testimony before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
At the same House Committee hearing, Rep. Blake Farenthold and Mr. Nordstrom had the following exchange regarding F17MB:
FARENTHOLD: Mr. Nordstrom, can you tell me what the role was of the February 17th Martyrs' Brigade in protecting the consulate in Benghazi?

NORDSTROM: Certainly. That was the unit, for lack of a better term, that was provided to us by the Libyan government.

FARENTHOLD: Were you aware of any ties of that militia to Islamic extremists?

NORDSTROM: Absolutely. We had that discussion on a number of occasions, the last of which was when there was a Facebook posting of a threat that named Ambassador Stevens and Senator McCain, who was coming out for the elections. That was in the July time frame. I met with some of my agents and also with some annex personnel. We discussed that. (Source: May 8, 2013 testimony before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
For additional security in Benghazi, the State Department hired the little-known British company Blue Mountain Group instead of one of the large firms it has traditionally used in overseas danger zones; Blue Mountain employed local Libyans to serve as guards who patrolled the compound with only flashlights and batons rather than firearms.

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-California), citing the testimony of witnesses and the content of key documents,
explains
one reason why the security at the Benghazi mission was so woefully inadequate:
“[T]he [Obama] administration made a policy decision to place Libya into a 'normalized' country status as quickly as possible. The normalization process, which began in November 2011, appeared to have been aimed at conveying the impression that the situation in Libya was getting better, not worse. The administration's decision to normalize was the basis for systematically withdrawing security personnel and equipment—including a much-needed DC aircraft—without taking into account the reality on the ground.”
At a later time (May 8, 2013), Eric Nordstrom (Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Libya) and Gregory Hicks (Deputy Chief of Mission/ChargĂ© d’Affairs in Libya) both offered their assessments of what was meant by “normalization,” and why the U.S. was pursuing it:
NORDSTROM: "… I'm not sure. I mean, sarcastically we saw it [normalization] as, 'Do more with less.’... It struck me as being part of some sort of script. Just like the reason we didn't close the facility in Benghazi despite the risks. There was already a political decision that said, 'We're gonna keep that open.' That's fine, but no one's ever come out and said that … we made that decision and then take responsibility for it." (Source: May 8, 2013 testimony before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
 

HICKS: "'Normalization' to us was moving towards being like a normal embassy instead of being, in a sense, under seige (sic) or in a hostile environment, or surrounded by potential threats. And we wanted to move toward normal life, and that also meant a withdrawal of extra DS [Diplomatic Security] personnel, and then a movement towards our diplomatic security managing more of a program that included the recruitment of Libyans to provide the security that we needed. (
Source: May 8, 2013 testimony before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
Some Democrats have claimed that security at the mission in Benghazi was inadequate because of budgetary contraints (sic), but that claim is false. Indeed, the State Department was in possession of some $2.2 billion that could have been spent on upgrading security at U.S. embassies, consulates, and missions around the world, but the Obama administration elected not to do so. State Department official Charlene Lamb would eventually confirm, in her testimony before the House Oversight And Government Reform Committee on October 10, 2012, that budgetary considerations had nothing whatsoever to do with the inadequate security in Benghazi.

At a subsequent House Oversight And Government Reform Committee
hearing
(in May 2013), Representatives Doug Collins and Rob Woodall asked RSO Eric Nordstrom to testify regarding how the State Department had repeatedly denied Nordstrom's requests for funding to pay for additional security at the mission in Benghazi. Below are key portions of the exchanges they had:
1) COLLINS & NORDSTROM:

COLLINS: [Regarding a March 28, 2012 cable from Nordstrom, requesting more security for the Benghazi mission]: Did you expect Secretary Clinton to either have read or be briefed about that cable?

NORDSTROM: Absolutely. I certainly expected, given that she had an involvement in the security process. If I could take a step back: By virtue of having the SST teams [Site Security Teams] there, because they were a Department of Defense asset, the process required for that is something called an exec sec. That exec sec is literally a request from one Cabinet head to another, in this case, State to DOD [Department of Defense]. That request must be signed by the Cabinet head, Secretary Clinton. She would have done the initial deployment request, plus an extension in the fall, and a second extension in February. She also came out to post, toured our facilities … and saw the lack of security there.... She was briefed by the country team as she visited the site. We also saw, later, there was the attacks against the facility. Certainly there's a reasonable expectation that her staff would have briefed her on those points.
2) WOODALL & NORDSTROM:
WOODALL: Thinking back to early July 2012. Do you recall your back-and-forth with [Deputy Assistant Secretary of State] Charlene Lamb particularly?
 
NORDSTROM: Vividly.

WOODALL: What did you think of that decision-making process? Were those decisions that Ms. Lamb was making, or were those decisions that were being kicked up to a higher level?
 
NORDSTROM: It was unclear. I think largely DASS [Deputy Assistant Secretary of State] Lamb. But one thing that struck me throughout the entire that I was in Libya was a strange decision-making process.... Certainly I felt that anything that DASS Lamb was deciding certainly had been run by Undersecretary Kennedy [Patrick F. Kennedy, the U.S. State Department's Under Secretary of State for Management].

WOODALL: … Did you receive an explanation for why that request [for additional scurity (sic)] was denied, that satisfied you?

NORDSTROM: I didn't.... I perceived that it was some sort of – explained to me that it would be somehow embarrassing or politically difficult for State Department to continue to rely on DOD, and there was an element of that. That was never fully verbalized. But that was certainly the feeling that I got, going away from those conversations.

WOODALL: … What was the nature of your conversation with the ambassador [Christopher Stevens], that this was such a serious issue, that rather than leaving it with a “No” on back channels, he wanted to elevate that?

NORDSTROM: That's exactly what it is. In fact, I recall all the way back to our first meeting with Congressman Chaffetz and the chairman, that was the question that I think they posed to me: “If you knew she was gonna keep saying no, why did you keep asking?” Well, because it was the right thing to do, and it was the resources that were needed. And if people, also, on the other side, felt that that was the right thing to do, to say no to that, they could at least have the courtesy to put that in the official record.

WOODALL: And did you receive any feedback back from Washington, whether a direct response to that cable, or a back-channel response to the fact that you elevated it to this front-channel process?

NORDSTROM: By the time that we sent the one in July [2012], no, we did not receive a response. In fact, that cable, as I understand, was never responded to, which is something that is relatively unheard of in the State Department. When you send a request cable for anything, whether it's (sic) copiers or manpower, they get back to you. Prior discussions – back-channel ones – yes, I had a number of conversations with my regional director and also DASS Lamb, where it was discouraging, to put it mildly, that, “Why do you keep raising these issues? Why do you keep putting this forward?”

WOODALL: And if you can characterize it, then, between a non-response or a disagreement, when it comes to issues of security for American personnel on the ground in Libya, were you rceiving (sic) a non-response from Washington, or was there disagreement in Washington with your assessment of levels of need on the ground?

NORDSTROM: I'd largely get a non-response. The responses that I did get were: “You don't have specific targeting. You don't have specific threats against you. The long and short of it is, you're not dealing with suicide bombers, incoming artillery, and vehicle bombs like they are in Iraq and Afghanistan, so basically stop complaining.”
Investor's Business Daily reports that: "The decision to place U.S. personnel in Benghazi with substandard security was made at the highest levels of the State Department"

TIMELINE
March 2011:
Ambassador Christopher Stevens' Role in the Obama Administration's Support of Libyan Jihadists Tied to Al Qaeda


In March 2011 President Obama
signs a secret order, or presidential “finding,” that authorizes covert operations to aid the “opposition” rebels in Libya who are fighting to topple the 42-year dictatorial rule of President Muammar Qaddafi. As The New York Times reports, “The Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments [originating in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates] to Libyan rebels.” Moreover, President Obama says the U.S. has not ruled out providing military hardware directly to those rebels: “It's fair to say that if we wanted to get weapons into Libya, we probably could. We're looking at all our options at this point.”

Among the Libyan rebels are many al Qaeda-affiliated jihadists. Indeed, the rebels'
top military commander, Abdelhakim Belhadj, is the leader of an al Qaeda franchise known as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. Another opposition leader, Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, confirms that a substantial number of the Libyan rebels are al Qaeda fighters who previously battled U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. And former CIA officer Bruce Riedel tells the Hindustan Times: “There is no question that al-Qaeda’s Libyan franchise, [the] Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, is a part of the opposition. It has always been [Qaddafi's] biggest enemy, and its stronghold is Benghazi.”

Also in
March 2011, 52-year-old American diplomat John Christopher Stevens (a.k.a. Christopher Stevens)—formerly the number two official at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli—is designated as the American liaison to the Libyan rebels. Stevens' task is to help coordinate U.S. assistance to these rebels, who are now engaged against Qaddafi. Abdelhakim Belhadj is almost certainly one of Stevens' most important contacts for this initiative. According to investigative journalist Aaron Klein, “During the Libyan revolution against [Muammar Qaddafi’s] regime, the U.S. admitted to directly arming the rebel groups.” Journalist Clare Lopez
puts these facts in perspective:
“During the 2011 Libyan revolt against Muammar Qaddafi, reckless U.S. policy flung American forces and money into the conflict on the side of the rebels, who were known at the time to include Al-Qaeda elements.… That means that Stevens was authorized by the U.S. Department of State and the Obama administration to aid and abet individuals and groups that were, at a minimum, allied ideologically with Al-Qaeda, the jihadist terrorist organization that attacked the homeland on the first 9/11, the one that’s not supposed to exist anymore after the killing of its leader, Osama bin Laden, on May 2, 2011.”

Summer 2011 to Early 2012:
Christopher Stevens' Role in Post-Qaddafi Libya: Funneling Libyan Weapons and Jihadists to Syria, to Help Al Qaeda-Affiliated Rebels Fight the Assad Regime

Frank Gaffney, founder and president of the Center for Security Policy, writes that after Muammar Qaddafi's fall from power in the summer of 2011, “[Christopher] Stevens [is] appointed ambassador to the new Libya run by [Abdelhakim] Belhadj [leader of the al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group] and his friends.” At this point, Stevens is tasked with finding and securing “the immense amount of armaments that had been cached by the dictator around the country and systematically looted during and after the revolution.” Stevens' mission is to help transfer “arms recovered from the former regime’s stocks to the 'opposition' in Syria,” where, “as in Libya, the insurgents are known to include al Qaeda and other Shariah-supremacist groups, including none other than Abdelhakim Belhadj.” These Syrian insurgents, organized under the banner of the “Free Syrian Army,” are fighting to topple the rule of their nation's president, Bashar al-Assad. Benghazi is a logical place in which to station Stevens for this task, since, as Gaffney notes, it is “one of the places in Libya most awash with such weapons in the most dangerous of hands.”

Stevens' duties include not only the transfer of arms, but also the recruitment of fighters willing to personally go into combat against the Assad regime in Syria. Aaron Klein writes that
according to Middle Eastern security officials: “The U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi ... actually serve[s] as a meeting place to coordinate aid for the rebel-led insurgencies in the Middle East.” Specifically, the building serves as a forum for U.S. collaboration with Arab countries—particularly the Turkish, Saudi and Qatari governments—on how to best support the Mideast's various insurgencies, especially the rebels opposing Assad in Syria. Many of the fighters who are recruited are jihadists hailing from Libya and elsewhere in North Africa, and they are dispatched to Syria via Turkey (the lead coordinator of aid to the Free Syrian Army) with the help of CIA operatives stationed along the border shared by those two countries. One of the most noteworthy jihadists making his way to Syria is Abdelhakim Belhadj, former leader of the al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group that brought down Qaddafi in Libya before subsequently disbanding.

This type of covert activity “may help explain why there was no major public security presence at what has been described as a 'consulate,'”
says Aaron Klein
. “Such a presence would draw attention to the shabby, nondescript building that was allegedly used for such sensitive purposes.”


* October 18, 2011: Hillary Clinton visits Benghazi, and she has the Defense Department pre-position assets off the coast of Libya, in case she encounters danger and needs rescue.

* November 2011: Abdelhakim Belhadj—former leader of the al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group—
meets with Free Syrian Army leaders in Istanbul and on the Turkish-Syrian border. This is part of an effort by the new, post-Qaddafi Libyan government to provide money and weapons to the growing Islamist insurgency in Syria.

*
Early 2012: President Obama signs an intelligence finding that formally authorizes U.S. support for the Syrian rebels, among whom are many heavily-armed, al Qaeda-affiliated jihadists. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Gen. Martin Dempsey (chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and then-CIA director David Petraeus uniformly support a plan to arm the Syrian rebels. (Nonetheless, the Obama administration would later claim to have decided against arming the rebels.)

*
Early 2012: The CIA begins working with Arab governments and Turkey to sharply increase the supply of arms shipments to Syrian rebels. (
Source
: The New York Times (March 25, 2013)


February 2012 to September 2012:
Growing Danger at the U.S. Mission in Benghazi and Elsewhere in Libya
* February 2012: Eric Nordstrom, the Regional Security Officer (RSO) at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, urges that American security measures in Libya be expanded, citing dozens of security incidents by “Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, including Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb …”
* April 6, 2012: An IED [improvised explosive device] is thrown over the fence of the U.S. mission compound fence in Benghazi by two Libyans employed at the mission as contract guards. The suspects are arrested but not prosecuted.

*
April 10, 2012: An IED is thrown at a convoy carrying the United Nations Special Envoy to Libya. No one is arrested.

*
April 11, 2012: A gun battle breaks out 4 kilometers from the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

*
April 19, 2012: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signs a cable proposing a plan to decrease security assets for the U.S. missions in Libya, including Benghazi. (NOTE: But when Mrs. Clinton herself visited Benghazi six months earlier, on October 18, 2011, she had the Defense Department pre-position assets off the coast of Libya, in case she encountered danger and needed rescue.)

*
April 25, 2012: A U.S. embassy guard in Tripoli is detained at a militia checkpoint.

*
April 26, 2012: A fistfight escalates into a gunfight at a Benghazi medical university, and a U.S. Foreign Service Officer in attendance is evacuated.

*
April 27, 2012: A courthouse in Benghazi is hit by three IEDs.

*
April 27, 2012: Two South African contractors in Benghazi are kidnapped, questioned and released. After this incident, Eric Nordstrom, former Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Libya, states: “It is increasingly likely that our direct-hire employees will face the same challenges in the future.”

*
May 1, 2012: The deputy commander of the local guard force in Tripoli is carjacked and beaten.

*
May 3, 2012: The State Department declines a request from personnel concerned about security at the U.S. embassy in Libya for a DC-3 plane to transport them around the country.

*
May 15, 2012: An unknown attacker throws a hand grenade at the Military Police headquarters in Benghazi.

*
May 22, 2012: Two RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] rounds are fired at the Red Cross outpost in Benghazi, which is located 1 kilometer from the U.S. mission. A pro-al Qaeda group claims credit for the attack. In a Facebook posting that same day, the group says, “now we are preparing a message for the Americans for disturbing the skies over Derma” (a port city in eastern Libya).

*
June 2012: A pro-Qaddafi Facebook page posts photos of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens making his morning run in Tripoli and issues a threat against him.

*
June 6, 2012: An IED is left at the gate of the U.S. mission in Benghazi. Six minutes later, it explodes. An al Qaeda-affiliated group claims credit for the incident. After this bombing, U.S. officials observe that local (unarmed) guard forces working for the Benghazi compound are now “afraid to work.” Assistant Regional Security Officer David Oliveira, who is stationed in Benghazi at the time, says that these guard forces view the U.S. as “a target” and “[don't] want to work overnight.”

*
June 10, 2012: On or about this date, al Qaeda holds a rally in Benghazi. The event features fighters from Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, and Mali parading through the streets bearing weapons and black Salafist flags.

*
June 11, 2012: An RPG is fired at a convoy carrying the British Ambassador in broad daylight as he nears the British consulate in Benghazi, which is located 2 kilometers from the U.S. mission in that city. No one is killed, but the British close their consulate soon thereafter. No suspects are identified.

*
June 13, 2012: An aide to a former internal security officer is killed in a car-bomb assassination in Benghazi.

*
June 21, 2012: A former Libyan military prosecutor is assassinated by gunfire in Benghazi.

*
June 22, 2012: Ambassador Christopher Stevens sends a cable to the State Department, noting the continued presence in Libya of Islamist extremist groups “which warrant ongoing monitoring.”

*
Late June, 2012: Another attack targets the Red Cross outpost in Benghazi, this one in daylight. The Red Cross promptly pulls out, making the U.S. mission the last Western outpost in the city.

*
Soon After the June 2012 Al Qaeda Attacks on the British Ambassador and the Red Cross: Green Beret Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Andy Wood -- one of the top American security officials in Libya -- is based in Tripol (sic) and has been meeting with Ambassador Stevens every day. Noting that al Qaeda has already announced, in an online posting, its intent to attack the British, the Red Cross, and the Americans in Benghazi, Woods tells a U.S. country team meeting, “You are gonna get attacked. You are gonna get attacked in Benghazi. It’s gonna happen.... Shut down operations. Move out temporarily, or change locations within the city. Do something to break up the profile because you are being targeted. They are -- they are -- they are watching you. The attack cycle is such that they’re in the final planning stages.” (In an interview conducted at a later date, Wood recalls: "It was apparent to me that that was the case. Reading, reading all these other, ah, attacks that were occurring, I could see what they were staging up to, it was, it was obvious.") (Source: Lara Logan's October 27, 2013 interview with Andy Wood, for CBS's "60 Minutes")

*
June 25, 2012: Ambassador Stevens issues a cable entitled, “Libya's Fragile Security Deteriorates as Tribal Rivalries, Power Plays and Extremism Intensify.” In this cable, he indicates that the leaders of an al Qaeda-affiliated group have explicitly stated that they are “target[ing] the Christians supervising the management of the [U.S.] consulate.” Stevens adds that a “[Government of Libya] national security official shared his private opinion that the [recent] attacks were the work of extremists who are opposed to western influence in Libya.” Moreover, writes Stevens, “[A] number of local contacts [note] that Islamic extremism appears to be on the rise in eastern Liya (sic) and that the Al-Qaeda flag has been spotted several times flying over government buildings and training facilities in Derna.” According to Stevens, “the proliferation of militias and the absence of effective security and intelligence services” has diminished the Libyan government's ability to respond to the escalating violence.

*
July 1, 2012: Between 100 and 200 demonstrators storm and ransack the office of the High National Electoral Commission in Benghazi.

*
July 4, 2012: A border-control department officer is assassinated in a drive-by shooting in Benghazi. No suspects are arrested.

*
July 6, 2012: A Libyan Air Force helicopter is struck by gunfire from an anti-aircraft weapon and is forced to land at Benghazi’s Benina Airport. One staff member of Libya's High National Election Commission is killed in the attack, and one is wounded. No suspects are arrested.

*
July 21, 2012: In a memorandum to the State Department, Eric Nordstrom, former Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Libya, warns: “[T]he risk of U.S. mission personnel, private U.S. citizens, and businesspersons encountering an isolating event as a result of militia or political violence is HIGH. The Government of Libya does not yet have the ability to effectively respond to and manage the rising criminal and militia related violence, which could result in an isolating event.”

* July 31, 2012: Gregory Hicks arrives in Tripoli to begin serving there as deputy chief of mission.

*
August 2012: Ambassador Stevens reports that the security situation in Benghazi is deteriorating. He informs the State Department of a “security vacuum” that is being exploited by independent extremists. Nonetheless, the 16-man Site Security Team of Special Forces assigned to Libya is ordered out of the country, contrary to the stated wishes of Stevens.

*
August 6, 2012: An attempted carjacking of a vehicle with U.S. diplomatic plates is carried out in Tripoli.

*
August 15, 2012: An emergency meeting is convened at the U.S. mission in Benghazi to discuss the threat posed by the area's 10 active Islamist militias, including al Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia.

*
August 15, 2012: The U.S. Mission in Benghazi sends a
cable (marked “SECRET” and signed by Ambassador Stevens) to “The Office of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.” The cable says that the State Department’s senior security officer, also known as the RSO, does not believe the mission can be protected against a “coordinated attack.”

*
Early September 2012: Unarmed Libyan guards (employed by British contractor Blue Mountain Group) at the U.S. mission in Benghazi are warned by their family members to quit their jobs because of rumors of an “impending attack.”

*
September 6, 2012: Al-Entisar, a Libyan-flagged ship, docks in the Turkish port of Iskenderun. Its 400 tons of cargo includes Russian-designed, shoulder-launched missiles known as MANPADS, rocket-propelled grenades, and surface-to-air missiles—precisely the types of weapons that had previously made their way into Libya when Qaddafi acquired many thousands of them from the former Eastern Bloc countries, and precisely the types of weapons the Syrian rebels have been using in their military campaign against Syrian President Assad. Al-Entisar's cargo ultimately ends up in the possession of those same Syrian rebels. The main organizer of this shipment of weapons is the al Qaeda-linked Abdelhakim Belhadj, who previously worked directly with Ambassador Stevens during the Libyan revolution against Qaddafi. As journalist Clare Lopez explains, these facts confirm “the multilateral U.S.-Libya-Turkey agreement to get weapons into the hands of Syrian rebels—which were known to be dominated by Al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood elements—by working with and through Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist figures like [Abdelhakim] Belhadj.”

* September 8, 2012: A local security officer in Benghazi
warns American officials that security in the area is rapidly deteriorating, and that violent unrest
is a distinct possibility.

*
September 8, 2012: A member of the February 17th Martyrs Brigade (F17MB) warns Alec Henderson, the Regional Security Officer (RSO) at the State Department compound in Benghazi, that the militia will no longer protect the movements of Americans diplomats in the city. Specifically, F17MB cites its dissatisfaction with working hours and pay (from the State Department). The RSO asks specifically if the militia would be willing to provide additional support for Ambassador Stevens' pending visit, slated for September 10, and is told no.
* September 9, 2012: Alec Henderson relays the F17MB warning to John Martinec, the RSO in Tripoli.
* September 9, 2012: The U.S. State Department now has credible information that American missions in the Middle East may be targeted by terrorists, but diplomats are not instructed to go on high alert or “lockdown.”

*
September 10, 2012: Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri—vowing to avenge the death of Abu Yahya al-Libi, a high-ranking al Qaeda official killed by an American drone attack three months earlier—issues direct threats against Americans in Libya. Notwithstanding these threats, the Obama administration deploys no U.S. Marines to guard the mission in Benghazi.

* Summation: As a result of the foregoing incidents, the U.S. mission in Benghazi made
repeated requests for increased security prior to September 11, 2012, but these requests were denied by the Obama administration. One U.S. security officer, Eric Nordstrom, twice asked his State Department superiors for more security at the Benghazi mission but received no response. In making his requests, Nordstrom cited a chronology of more than 200 security incidents
that had occurred in Libya between June 2011 and July 2012. Forty-eight of those incidents were in Benghazi.
Timeline of the September 11, 2012 Terrorist Attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi

* 9:43 a.m. Benghazi time: Ambassador Stevens sends cables to Washington, including a Benghazi weekly
report of security incidents that reflect Libyans' “growing frustration with police and security forces who were too weak to keep the country secure.”

* Morning of September 11: News outlets begin to report that there is growing anger in Egypt over a YouTube video, titled
Innocence of Muslims, which was produced in the United States and is critical of the Prophet Muhammad. The video in question is just 14 minutes long and was first posted on the Internet fully two months earlier—i.e., it is not anything new. Moreover, the video is extremely obscure and, from an artistic standpoint, of very low quality.

*
1:17 p.m. Cairo time (6:17 am U.S. Eastern Time): The U.S. embassy in Cairo releases a
statement
condemning Innocence of Muslims:
“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims—as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”
* Approximately 4:15 p.m. Cairo time: Crowds begin to form near the U.S. embassy compound in Cairo. Then, over a three-hour period, hundreds of Muslim protesters storm that facility, where they destroy the American flag and replace it with a black Salafist flag that reads, “There is one God, Allah, and Mohammad is his prophet.”

*
Approximately 8:30 to 9:00 p.m. Benghazi time: Ambassador Stevens concludes his meeting with Turkish Ambassador Ali Kemal Aydin, his final meeting of the day, and retires to his room in Building C of the U.S. mission compound in Benghazi. At this time, there are
no signs of any unrest in the vicinity of the compound. Five State Department Diplomatic Security agents (DS) are on site—three of whom are based in Benghazi, and two of whom are travelng (sic) with Stevens.

*
Approximately 9:42 p.m. Benghazi time: American personnel at the Benghazi mission suddenly hear gunfire and an explosion. Via an electronic security monitor in the compound's Tactical Operations Center, an agent sees dozens of armed people flooding through a pedestrian gate at the main entrance of the compound. From this point onward, State Department Diplomatic Security agents follow events in
real time on a listen-only, audio-only feed.

* Shortly after 9:42 p.m. Benghazi time: The attackers are inside the compound and begin firing into the main building, setting it ablaze. At this time, there are
three people inside the building: Ambassador Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and Scott Wickland (Ambassador Stevens’ personal escort for that night).

*
Shortly After 9:42 p.m.: State Department employees at the Benghazi compound know that they under attack and in danger of losing their lives. They issue a series of frantic radio distress calls to the CIA annex approximately a mile away, "pleading" for their lives.

*
After 9:42 p.m. Benghazi time: When the mission in Benghazi issues
3 urgent requests for military back-up, the requests are denied. CIA Operators stationed at an annex approximately a mile away are told to “stand down” (i.e., not respond) rather than to try to defend the mission. Disobeying that order, former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty
, along with at least one other individual from the CIA annex, make their way toward the mission in an attempt to defend the people therein.
It is possible that as many as 35 Americans are on the ground in the U.S. annex (which is run by the CIA) in Benghazi at the time of the initial attack. It is unknown how many of these are CIA agents. (Source: CNN, August 1, 2013)
 

*
9:45 p.m. Benghazi time (Information from the testimony of Gregory Hicks):
"[A]t 9:45 p.m. ... the RSO John Martinec ran into my villa yelling, 'Greg! Greg! The consulate's under attack.' And I stood up and reached for my phone because I had an inkling or thought that perhaps the ambassador [Stevens] had tried to call me to relay the same message. And I found two missed calls on the phone, one from the ambassador's phone and one from a phone number I didn't recognize. And I punched the phone number I didn't recognize, and I got the ambassador on the other end. And he said, 'Greg, we're under attack.' And I was walking out of the villa, on my way to the Tactical Operations Center, because I knew we would all have to gather there to mobilize or try to mobilize a response.

"When I got to the Tactical Operations Center ... John Martinec was on the phone with Alec Henderson in Benghazi, the RSO there.... I asked -- when John Martinec got off the telephone, I asked him what was going on. And he said that the consulate had been breached, and there were at least 20 hostile individuals armed in the -- in the compound at the time. So I next called the annex chief to ask him if he was in touch with the Benghazi annex to activate our emergency response plan.... And he said that he had been in touch with the annex in Benghazi, and they said they were mobilizing a response team there to go to the -- to our facility and provide reinforcements and to repel the attack." (
Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Gregory Hicks before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* 9:57 p.m. Benghazi time and shortly thereafter: High-ranking members of the Obama administration are already aware that the assault on the American mission in Benghazi is a “terrorist attack.” General Carter Ham, head of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), breaks the news to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey. Thus Ham, Dempsey, and Panetta are all well aware that this is not a "demonstration" gone awry, but rather a terrorist attack.
Key officers, along with several channels of command throughout the Pentagon and its combatants (sic) commands, are equally quick to label the assault a terrorist attack.
* 10 p.m. Benghazi time (Information from the testimony of Gregory Hicks):
"I called the operations center at the State Department, approximately 10 p.m. to report the attack and what we were doing to respond to it.  The next thing I did was to begin calling the senior officials in the government of Libya that I knew at the time. And so, I dialed first the [Libyan] President Magariaf's chief of staff and reported the attack and asked for immediate assistance from the government of Libya to assist our folks in Benghazi.

"I followed that up with a call to the prime minister's chief of staff to make the same request and then to the MFA, America's director. MFA is Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The defense attache was, at the same time, calling the leadership of Libya's military with the same purpose, to ask them for assistance.

"Once that was done, I called again to Washington to report that these actions had been commenced. Over the night we -- over that night, that is basically how our team operated. I was talking to the government of -- of Libya, reporting to the State -- State Department through the operations center, and also staying in touch with the annex chief about what was going on.

"... I also discussed with the annex chief about mobilizing a Tripoli response team, and we agreed that we would move forward with ... chartering a plane from Tripoli to fly a response team to Benghazi to provide additional reinforcements. The defense attache was also reporting through his chain of command, back to AFRICOM and to the joint staff ... in Washington about what was going on in the country. David McFarland, our political section chief, had just returned from Benghazi, where he had been our principal officer for the previous 10 days. And so, he jumped into this picture by reaching out to his contacts in -- in Benghazi and trying to get them, at the local level there, to respond to the attack. And he also was in touch with our local employee there, as well ..." (
Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Gregory Hicks before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* Night of September 11, 2012 (Information from an exchange between Gregory Hicks and Rep. Blake Farenthold, regarding the role which the February 17th Martyrs' Brigades may have played in facilitating the attacks):
FARENTHOLD: Mr. Hicks... do you believe the February 17th militia played a role in those [September 11, 2012] attacks, was complacent [sic] in those attacks?
HICKS: Certainly elements of that militia were complicit in the attacks. The attackers had to make a long approach march through multiple checkpoints that were manned by February 17 militia. (Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Mark Thompson before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* Night of September 11, 2012 (Information from a September 22, 2012 statement by Fawzi Bukatef, leader of the February 17 Martyrs Brigades): Bukatef says that the Obama administration took no action during the attacks on the mission in Benghazi, and that “We [the Brigade] had to coordinate everything.” Bukatef's account is entirely consistent with Libyan Interior Minister Wanis al-Sharif's earlier assertion that Libyan security forces had essentially handed the U.S. mission personnel over to the attackers.
* Night of September 11, 2012: It would later be reported that the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi played a role in setting the 9/11/12 attacks in motion. This possibility first came to light on June 26, 2013 (nine-and-a-half months after the attacks), when news outlets across the Arab world began reporting about an internal Libyan government memo that documented the confessions given by six Egyptians in Libyan custody (all were affiliated with the Islamic terror group Ansar al-Sharia). Specifically, the confessors stated that Morsi and the Brotherhood had been involved in the funding, support, planning, and execution of the attacks. Moreover, in a video which was made on the night of the attacks, a number of jihadists declared that they had been sent personally by "Dr. Morsi."

*
10 p.m. Benghazi time: The U.S. military redeploys two
unmanned surveillance drones that are already airborne in the region, positioning them above Benghazi in order to provide real-time intelligence to the CIA team on the ground. The drones will take approximately an hour to arrive at their destination.
* 10:05 p.m. Benghazi time: The State Department Operations Center issues an alert to several government and intelligence agencies, including the White House Situation Room, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the FBI. The alert reads: “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.” This alert is circulated widely inside the U.S. government, including at the highest levels.

*
Between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. Benghazi time: An unarmed drone arrives over the battlefield in Benghazi.

*
10:25 p.m. Benghazi time: A six-man team of Americans (including Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty) from the CIA annex in Benghazi arrives at the U.S. mission in Benghazi. Team members begin to work on
evacuating
those who remain at the mission; they also remove the body of Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, who was killed early in initial attack. And they search, without success, for Ambassador Stevens.

*
10:25 p.m. Benghazi time (Information from the testimony of Gregory Hicks):
"[T]he consulate was invaded, the -- Villa C where the ambassador [Stevens] and Sean Smith and Scott Wickland [Ambassador Stevens’ personal escort for that night] were hiding in the safe area was set on fire. The attackers also went into another building. They were unable to enter the tactical operations center in Benghazi, because of improvements to that facility that had been made.

"They -- Scott [Wickland] attempted to lead the ambassador and Sean Smith out of the burning building. He managed to make it out. He tried repeatedly to go back in to try to rescue Sean and the ambassador but had to stop due to exposure to smoke.

"The response team from the annex in Benghazi, six individuals, drove the attackers out of our compound, and secured it temporarily. There have been estimates as high as 60 attackers were in the compound at one particular time. There were repeated attempts by all of the RSOs and by the response team from the annex to go into the burning building and recover -- try to save Sean and the ambassador. They found Sean's body and pulled it out but he was no longer responsive. They did not find the ambassador.... (
Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Gregory Hicks before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* Approximately 10:30 p.m. Benghazi time: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his top military adviser learn of the attack in Benghazi.

*
Approximately 10:45 or 11:00 p.m. Benghazi time (Information from the testimony of Greg Hicks):
"At about 10:45 or 11:00 we confer, and I asked the defense attache who had been talking about AFRICOM and with the joint staff, 'Is anything coming? Will they be sending us any help? Is there something out there?' And he answered that the nearest help was in Aviano [Italy], the nearest -- where there were fighter planes. He said that it would take two to three hours for them to get onsite, but that there also were no tankers available for them to refuel. And I said, 'Thank you very much,' and we went on with our work." (Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Gregory Hicks before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* Approximately 11 p.m. Benghazi time (5 p.m. EST): President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary of Defense Panetta gather with their national security team in the Oval Office for a pre-scheduled, 30-minute meeting. With the unmanned drones now in place, live-feed video of the attack is available to the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the CIA.
* Between 11 p.m. and midnight Benghazi time: Members of the February 17 Martyrs Brigade realize that they cannot possibly defend the compound, and they withdraw.

* Between 11 p.m. and midnight Benghazi time: DS agents are
unable to find Ambassador Stevens anywhere in the mission compound. Under heavy
assault (as a second wave of attackers came upon the facility), the DS agents are forced to leave the compound with the CIA team (which includes Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty) in an armored vehicle that takes them to the annex about a mile away.

*
Between 11 p.m. and midnight Benghazi time (Information from the testimony of Mark Thompson):
"The night that I was involved in this incident, I was at my desk at the end of the day when the first reports came in that indicated that we had an attack going on at our diplomatic facility in Benghazi. In that facility, we knew we had our ambassador and we had his security personnel. Later, when I heard that the situation had evolved to them going to a safe haven, and then the fact that we could not find the ambassador, I alerted my leadership, indicating that we needed to go forward and consider the deployment of the Foreign Emergency Support Team [FEST].... I notified the White House of my idea. They indicated that meetings had already taken place that evening, that had taken FEST out of the menu of options. I called the office within the State Department, that had been represented there [at the White House meeting], asking them why it had been taken off the table and was told that it was not the right time [because it might be too unsafe], and it was not the team that needed to go right then....

"The other thing that I pointed out is that with the tyranny of distance – at least 8 or 9 hours to get to the middle of the Mediterranean – we needed to act now and not wait. There is sometimes the hesitancy to not deploy [sic] because we don't know what's going on. One definition of a crisis is, you don't know what's going to happen in two hours, so you need to help develop that situation early....

"We live by a code. That code says you go after people when they're in peril, when they're in the service of their country. We did not have the benefit of hindsight in the early hours, and those people who are in peril in the future need to know that we will go get 'em, and we will do everything we can to get them out of harm's way. That night unfolded in ways that no one culd (sic) have predited (sic) when it first started. And it is my strong belief, then as it is now, that we needed to demonstrate that resolve even if we'd still had the same outcome." (
Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Mark Thompson before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* Between 11 p.m. and midnight Benghazi time (Information from an exchange between Mark Thompson and Rep. Mark Meadows):
MEADOWS: Mr. Thompson, you had talked earlier about the deployment of the FEST team, and you said that you thought it was important to do that. Were there any other agencies, other than you, that thought that was important?
THOMPSON: Yes, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and DOD specifically … People who are a normal part of that team that deploy with us were shocked and amazed that they were not being called on their cell phones, beepers, etc. to go.... (Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Mark Thompson before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* Between 11 p.m. and midnight Benghazi time: As evidenced by State Department emails, within two hours after the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, the State Department is fully aware that the Libyan militant group Ansar al-Sharia has already taken credit for the attack and has called for additional terrorist acts. As former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton would later explain, “What the emails show beyond any doubt is that the State Department was fully possessed of the information in real time.”

* September 11-12, 2012: According to the former head of U.S. forces in Africa, General Carter Ham: “It became apparent to all of us quickly that this was not a demonstration, this was a violent attack.”
(Source: Quote by General Ham, as reported on July 23, 2013)

September 12, 2012


* Approximately midnight Benghazi time, September 12, 2012: Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty arrive back at the CIA annex, which then comes under heavy attack from Islamic terrorists for the next several hours. The security team returns fire and tries to defend the annex.

*
Approximately 12:00 or 12:30 a.m. Benghazi time:
The six-man American Quick Reaction Force (i.e., response team) from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli departs via airplane for Benghazi, where it will arrive sometime between 1:30 and 2:00 a.m.

*
Midnight to 1:30 a.m. (Information from the testimony of Gregory Hicks):
"The second phase commences after the teams have returned to the annex, and they suffer for about an hour and a half probing attacks from terrorists. They are able to repulse them and then they [the terrorists] desist at about 1:30 in the morning." (Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Gregory Hicks before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* 12:07 a.m. Benghazi time, September 12, 2012: The State Department Operations Center issues an alert relaying information that the U.S. embassy in Tripoli has reported: “Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibilty (sic) for Benghazi Attack ... on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli.”

*
12:30 a.m. Benghazi time (Information from the testimony of Gregory Hicks):
"About 12:30 -- at the same time that we see the Twitter feeds that are asserting that Ansar Sharia is responsible for the attack -- we also see a call for an attack on the embassy in Tripoli. And so we begin to - we -- we had always thought that we were in -- under threat, that we now have to take care of ourselves and we began planning to evacuate our facility. When I say our facility, I mean the State Department residential compound in Tripoli, and to consolidate all of our personnel in -- at the annex in Tripoli. We have about 55 diplomatic personnel in the two annexes." (Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Gregory Hicks before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* Midnight to 2 a.m. Benghazi time: Defense Secretary Panetta holds a series of meetings and issues three orders: (a) He orders two Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team platoons stationed in Rota, Spain, to prepare to deploy to the U.S. mission in Benghazi and the U.S. embassy in Tripoli; (b) he orders a special operations team in Europe to move to Sigonella, Sicily—less than one hour's flight (480 miles) from Benghazi; and (c) he orders a U.S.-based special operations team to deploy to Sigonella as well.
* 1:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Benghazi time, September 12, 2012: The Quick Reaction Force from Tripoli lands in Benghazi airport and learns that Ambassador Stevens is missing. The team is delayed for 45 minutes at the airport because its members cannot at first get ground transportation to the American CIA annex, allegedly due to confusion among Libyan militias who were supposed to escort them to the annex.

*
2:00 a.m. Benghazi time (Information from the testimony of Gregory Hicks):
"During the night, I am in touch with Washington, keeping them posted of what's happening in Tripoli and to the best of my knowledge what I am being told in Benghazi. I think at about ... 2 a.m.... the Secretary of State Clinton called me along with her senior staff were all on the phone, and she asked me what was going on. And I briefed her on developments.

"Most of the conversation was about the search for Ambassador Stevens. It was also about what we were going to do with our personnel in Benghazi, and I told her that we would need to evacuate, and that was -- she said that was the right thing to do." (
Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Gregory Hicks before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* 2:00 a.m. Benghazi time (Information from an exchange between Gregory Hicks and Rep. Ron DeSantos):
DESANTOS: When you spoke with Secretary Clinton at 2 a.m., did she express support for giving military assistance to those folks in Benghazi; i.e., did she say that she would request such support from either the Secretary of Defense or the President of the United States?

HICKS: We actually didn't discuss that issue. At the time, we were focused on trying to find and hopefully rescue Ambassador Stevens. That was the primary purpose of our discussion. [The] secondary purpose was to talk about what we were going to do in Tripoli, in order to enhance our security there.... The first two attacks [in Benghazi] had been completed, and there was a lull in Benghazi at the time.... We knew the situation was in flux. (Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Gregory Hicks before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* 2:00 a.m. Benghazi time (Information from an exchange between Gregory Hicks and Rep. Darrell Issa):
ISSA: Mr. Hicks, 2 in the morning, the Secretary of State calls you personally.... Did she ask you about the cause of the attack? Did she ask about videos? Did she ask about anything at all that would have allowed you to answer the question of how Benghazi came to be attacked, as far as you knew?
HICKS: I don't recall that being part of the conversation.
ISSA: So she wasn't interested in the cause of the attack, and this was the only time where you talked directly to the Secretary, where you could have told her or not told her about the cause of the attack.
HICKS: Yes, that was the only time when I could have. But, again, I had already reported that the attack had commenced and that Twitter feeds were asserting that Ansar Sharia was responsible for the attacks.
ISSA: You didn't have that discussion with her only because it was assumed that since you'd already reported that the cause of the attack was essentially Islamic extremists, some of them linked to al Qaeda.
HICKS: Yes. (Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Gregory Hicks before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
 
* 3:00 a.m. Benghazi time (Information from the testimony of Gregory Hicks):
"At about 3 a.m., I received a call from the prime minister of Libya. I think it is the saddest phone call I have ever had in my life. He told me that Ambassador Stevens had passed away. I immediately telephoned Washington that news afterwards, and began accelerating our effort to withdraw from the Villas compound and move to the annex...." (Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Gregory Hicks before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* Approximately 4 a.m. to 5:15 a.m. Benghazi time: Former U.S. Navy SEALS Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods are killed by direct mortar fire as they try to engage the attackers at the CIA annex in Benghazi. Their deaths come about 7 hours after the start of the violence. Soon thereafter, the attacks wind down. All told, 4 Americans are dead: Doherty, Woods, Ambassador Stevens, and Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith.

*
4:45 to 5:00 a.m. Benghazi time (Information from the testimony of Gregory Hicks):
"We [seven rescue-team members, including two U.S. military personnel] arrived [via a C-130 airplane] at the [Benghazi] annex, at least my group, I think at about 4:45 perhaps, maybe 5 a.m.... Shortly after we arrived at the annex the mortars came in. The first was long. It landed actually among the Libyans that escorted our people. They took casualties for us that night. The next was short, the next three landed on the roof killing Glen and Tyrone, and severely wounded David.... The accuracy was terribly precise.... Two of the guys from team Tripoli climbed up on the roof and carried Glen's body and Tyrone's body down. One guy, Mark Si, full combat gear, climbed up there, strapped David, a large man, to his back, carried him down a ladder and saved him. (Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Gregory Hicks before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* Shortly after 4:45 or 5:00 a.m. Benghazi time: The C-130 returns to Tripoli.

*
6 a.m. Benghazi time, September 12, 2012
: A team of U.S. Special Forces in Tripoli, preparing to board a C-130 to Benghazi in order to respond to the attack, is ordered to "stand down" by U.S. Special Forces Command Africa. That is, the commander of the Special Forces in Tripoli, Lt. Col. Gibson, was told he did not have the authority to send his team to Benghazi. Gibson later tells Gregory Hicks, deputy chief of mission for the U.S. in Libya: “I have never been so embarrassed in my life that a State Department officer has bigger balls than somebody in the military.”

*
6 a.m. Benghazi time (Information from the testimony of Gregory Hicks):
"In Tripoli, we had -- the defense attache had persuaded the Libyans to fly their C-130 to Benghazi and wanted to airlift -- we had -- since we had consolidated at the annex, and the Libyan government had now provided us with external security around our facilities, we wanted to send further reinforcements to Benghazi.

"We determined that Lieutenant Gibson and his team of special forces troops should go. The people in Benghazi had been fighting all night.  They were tired. They were exhausted.

We wanted to make sure the airport was secure for their withdrawal. As Colonel Gibson and his three personnel were -- were getting in the cars, he stopped. And he called them off and said -- told me that he had not been authorized to go.  The vehicles had to go because the flight needed to go to Tripoli -- I mean, to Benghazi. Lieutenant Colonel Gibson was furious." (
Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Gregory Hicks before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* 6 a.m. Benghazi time (Information from an exchange between Gregory Hicks and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, regarding the "stand-down" order):
CHAFFETZ: Mr. Hicks, I want to go back to that first plane from Tripoli [which] included 7 rescue-team members, including two U.S. military personnel. That plane then returns to Tripoli. And the first rescue team that is there is now really engaged in the attack. You have no idea, is my understanding, as to when the attack is going to end. So the second rescue team [which included 4 U.S. military special-forces personnel] is preparing to go.... And yet these military personnel do not operate under your authority, and your permission is not enough for them to go. Explain to me again exactly what happened.

HICKS: Again, we determined that we needed to send a second team from Tripoli to secure the airport for the withdrawal of our personnel from Benghazi.

CHAFFETZ: But were any of these U.S. military personnel not permitted to travel on a rescue mission from Tripoli to Benghazi?

HICKS: They were not authorized to travel.

CHAFFETZ: What happened with those personnel?

HICKS: They remained in Tripoli with us. The medic went with the nurse to the hospital to lend his skills to the treatment of our wounded.

CHAFFETZ: How did the personnel react to being told to stand down?

HICKS: They were furious.... I will quote Lt. Col. Gibson. He said, “This is the first time in my career that a diplomat has more balls than somebody in the military.”

CHAFFETZ: … Where did the stand-down order come from?

HICKS: I believe it came from either AFRICOM [United States Africa Command] or SOCAFRICA [Special Operations Command Africa]....
6 a.m. Benghazi time: According to Admiral Mike Mullen (who would later serve on the Benghazi Accountability Review Board), technically no “stand down” order was sent to Lt. Col. Gibson and the special forces team on the morning of September 12. But the unit was nonetheless ordered to “hold in place,” says Mullen, which amounts to exactly the same degree of inaction. (Source: September 20, 2013 testimony of Mike Mullen before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

*
Morning of September 12, 2012: The Obama administration immediately characterizes the murderous violence in Benghazi as a spontaneous, unplanned uprising that not only evolved from a low-level protest against Innocence of Muslims -- an obscure, anti-Muslim video that had been posted on YouTube two months earlier -- but also took place, coincidentally, on the anniversary of 9/11. In reality, however, by this time U.S. intelligence agencies have already gained enough evidence
to conclude unequivocally that the attack on the mission in Benghazi was a terrorist incident, not a spontaneous event growing out of a low-level protest over the obscure YouTube video. In fact, there was never any low-level protest against that video in Benghazi.

*
Morning of September 12, 2012 (Information from an exchange between Gregory Hicks and Rep. Trey Gowdy):
GOWDY: [Just hours after the attack] the president of Libya … labeled it an attack by Islamic extremists, possibly with terror links. Correct?

HICKS: Yes sir....

GOWDY: Did the president of Libya ever mention a spontaneous protest related to a video?

HICKS: No sir.

GOWDY: When Ambassador Stevens talked to you perhaps minutes before he died, as a dying declaration, what precisely did he say to you?

HICKS: He said, “Greg, we're under attack.”

GOWDY: Would a highly decorated career diplomat have told you or Washington, had there been a demonstration outside his facility that day?

HICKS: Yes sir, he would have.

GOWDY: Did he mention one word about a protest or a demonstration?

HICKS: No sir, he did not.  (Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Gregory Hicks before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* Morning of September 12, 2012: In a morning speech delivered in the White House Rose Garden, President Obama says, “Make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.” In his remarks, the president makes reference to the role that the anti-Muslim YouTube video allegedly played in triggering the violence: “Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None.” He also makes a passing reference to “acts of terror” generally, right after he has referred to “troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and to “our wounded warriors at Walter Reed [Hospital].” But he never actually characterizes the Benghazi attack as a terrorist act.

* Morning of September 12, 2012: After his Rose Garden speech, Obama
tapes an interview
for 60 Minutes, where he explains that he refrains from using the word
“terrorism” in the speech because “it’s too early to know exactly how this came about.” (For unknown reasons, CBS does not release this clip until just two days before Election Day, and it attracts little notice at the time because Superstorm Sandy is dominating the pre-Election Day news.)


* Afternoon of September 12, 2012: Just a few hours after having delivered his remarks in the Rose Garden, President Obama flies to Las Vegas for a campaign fundraiser where he likens the heroism of the dead Americans in Libya to that of his own campaign volunteers: “The sacrifices that our troops and our diplomats make are obviously very different from the challenges that we face here domestically, but like them, you guys are Americans who sense that we can do better than we’re doing…. I’m just really proud of you.”

* Afternoon of September 12, 2012: Senior administration officials hold a briefing with reporters to answer questions about the attack. Twice the officials characterize the perpetrators of the attack as “extremists.”

*
September 12, 2012 (Information from an exchange between Gregory Hicks and Rep. Trey Gowdy, regarding the State Department's initial account of the events in Benghazi):
GOWDY: Mr. Hicks, who is Beth Jones?

HICKS: Beth Jones is the acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department.

GOWDY: I want to read an excerpt from an email she sent [on September 12], and you were copied on it.... This is from Miss Jones to you [Hicks], to counsel for Hillary Clinton, to [State Department spokeswoman] Victoria Nuland, to Mr. Kennedy [U.S. State Department's Under Secretary of State for Management, Patrick F. Kennedy]. Near as I can tell, to almost everyone in the State Department. And I'm going to read from it: "I spoke to the Libyan ambassador and emphasized the importance of Libyan leaders continuing to make strong statements. When he said his government suspected that former Qadhafi regime elements carried out the attacks, I told him that the group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic terrorists." (Source: May 8, 2013 hearing before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* September 12, 2012: The CIA station chief in Libya sends a cable reporting that eyewitnesses have confirmed the participation of Islamic militants in what was clearly a terrorist attack in Benghazi.

*
September 12, 2012: Within 24 hours after the attack, the U.S. government intercepts communications between two al Qaeda-linked jihadists discussing the attacks in Benghazi. In one of those communications, one of the two jihadists, a member of Ansar al Sharia, boasts that he participated in the violence against the U.S. diplomatic post. Later that same day, the CIA station chief in Libya sends a memo to Washington, reporting that eyewitnesses to the attack identified the participants as known jihadists with ties to al Qaeda.

*
Afternoon of September 12, 2012
: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell asks an administration official to comment on news reports indicating that the events in Benghazi have been “linked to a terror attack, an organized terror attack,” possibly al Qaeda. The official refers to it as a “complex attack” and says it is “too early to say who they were” and with whom they were affiliated.

*
September 12, 2012 (Information from an exchange between Gregory Hicks and Rep. Patrick McHenry, regarding whether Hicks initially believed that the violence of the previous day was a terrorist attack or a spontaneous outgrowth of a protest against the YouTube video):
McHENRY: Was there any evidence when you were there, in Libya, on that day [September 12], that this was a protest?

HICKS: No, there was none, and I'm confident that Ambassador Stevens would have reported a protest immediately if one appeared on his door....

MCHENRY: Was there anything in connection to a YouTube video? Was there any awareness that the events occurred because of a YouTube video?

HICKS: The YouTube video was a non-event in Libya.

MCHENRY: And did you know about that within a couple of days, or the day of?

HICKS: Yes.

MCHENRY: And so, did you report to anyone in Washington, within the first couple of days, that there was a protest in connection to a YouTube video?

HICKS: No, the only report that our mission made through every channel was that there had been an attack on our consulate.

MCHENRY: Not a protest.

HICKS: No protest. (Source: May 8, 2013 hearing before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* 4:09 p.m., September 12, 2012: At a press briefing en route to Las Vegas, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney is asked, “Does the White House believe that the attack in Benghazi was planned and premeditated?” He replies, “It’s too early for us to make that judgment. I think—I know that this is being investigated, and we’re working with the Libyan government to investigate the incident. So I would not want to speculate on that at this time.”
* 10:08 p.m., September 12, 2012: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton releases a public statement linking the attack against the U.S. mission in Benghazi to the YouTube video, which she describes as “inflammatory material posted on the Internet.” “I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today,” says Mrs. Clinton, adding: “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear — there is no justification for this, none.”

* September 12, 2012: When the CIA personnel hear the Obama administration's initial explanation that an anti-Islam video and a demonstration gone awry are to blame for the attacks,
they seethe with anger
because all the evidence on the ground shows clearly that it was a premeditated attack.

*
Approximately September 12-15, 2012: Gregory Hicks receives high praise from both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Hicks gave details about this praise on May 8, 2013, when he testified before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform:
"In the days immediately after the Benghazi attack, the President and Secretary of State praised my performance over the telephone. President Obama wrote Libyan President Magariaf expressing confidence in my abilities. Deputy Secretary Burns and General Ham told me how much they appreciated how I handled the night of the assault and its aftermath. I received written notes of commendation from Undersecretary Wendy Sherman and from Executive Secretary Stephen Mull. Incoming charge Larry Pope told me personally that my performance was near heroic."
* September 13, 2012: The Obama administration sends Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to deliver a televised statement denouncing not only the violence in Benghazi but also the “disgusting and reprehensible” video allegedly responsible for it, and stating “very clearly” that “the United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video.” “We absolutely reject its content and message,” says Mrs. Clinton, emphasizing America’s great “respect for people of faith.”
* September 13, 2012: Hillary Clinton meets with Ali Suleiman Aujali—the Libyan ambassador to the U.S.—at a State Department event to mark the end of Ramadan. Ambassador Aujali apologizes to Mrs. Clinton for what he describes as “this terrorist attack which took place against the American consulate in Libya.” Mrs. Clinton, in her remarks, does not characterize it as terrorism. Rather, she says there is “never any justification for violent acts of this kind.” She also condemns the anti-Muslim video,.

* September 13, 2012: White House press secretary Jay Carney
condemns the YouTube video at a news conference.

*
September 13, 2012: At a daily press briefing, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland is asked whether the Benghazi attack was “purely spontaneous or was premeditated by militants.” Declining to answer, she says that the administration does not want to “jump to conclusions.”

*
September 13, 2012: In a meeting with Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad-Eddine Al-Othmani, Hillary Clinton denounces the “disgusting and reprehensible” anti-Muslim video and the violence that it purportedly sparked.

*
Morning of September 14, 2012: After CIA director David Petraeus
briefs members of Congress on Capitol Hill, Democratic Rep. Dutch Ruppersburger, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, asks the intelligence community to provide guidance on what members of Congress could say in their public comments regarding the September 11 attacks.

*
11:15 a.m. EDT on September 14, 2012
: The CIA’s Office of Terrorism Analysis distributes internally (for comment) the first draft of a response to Ruppersburger. This initial CIA draft states that the U.S. government “know[s] that Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda participated in the attack”; that press reports have “linked the attack to Ansar al Sharia," which seeks to spread sharia law in Libya and “emphasizes the need for jihad”; that Ansar al Sharia "has since released a statement that its leadership did not order the attacks, but did not deny that some of its members were involved”; and that the mission compound in Benghazi has been the subject of jihadist surveillance during the past six months, during which there have been “at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy.”

*
Afternoon of September 14, 2012: After the internal distribution, CIA officials amend that initial draft to include additional discussion about jihadism in both Egypt and Libya. For example: (a) “On 10 September we warned of social media reports calling for a demonstration in front of the [Cairo] Embassy and that jihadists were threatening to break into the Embassy.” And (b): “The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al Qaeda in Benghazi and Libya.” The reference to “Islamic extremists” remains in the revised draft, but it no longer specifies “Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda.” Moreover, the initial reference to “attacks” in Benghazi is changed to “demonstrations.”

*
6:52 p.m. on September 14, 2012
: The revised CIA talking points are first distributed to top Obama administration officials via the interagency vetting process. All told, the revised talking points include more than a half-dozen references to such enemies of America as al Qaeda, Ansar al Sharia, jihadists, and Islamic extremists.

*
7:39 p.m. on September 14, 2012: In an email to officials at the White House, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland raises “serious concerns” about the talking-points draft as it is currently constituted. Specifically, she objects to the following paragraph which was part of the CIA's talking points:
“The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”
Describing herself as "concerned," Nuland suggests that the foregoing information should be removed from the talking points because it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either?”


* Shortly after 7:39 p.m. on September 14, 2012: In an effort to address Nuland's concerns, CIA officials remove all references to Ansar al Sharia and make some minor changes as well.
* 9:24 p.m. on September 14, 2012: In a follow-up email, Nuland writes that the edited draft remains problematic and that her superiors—whom she does not name—are unhappy with it. Noting that “[t]hese changes don't resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership,” Nuland indicates that State Department leadership will be contacting National Security Council officials directly.
* Shortly after 9:24 p.m. on September 14, 2012: White House officials respond by stating that the State Department’s concerns will be taken into account.
* 9:34 p.m. on September 14, 2012: White House official Ben Rhodes sends an email advising the group of White House officials that the issues raised by Nuland will be resolved the following morning in a meeting of the National Security Council’s Deputies Committee, consisting of high-ranking officials at the State Department, the Defense Department, and the CIA — as well as senior White House national security staffers. Says Rhodes: “We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation. We thus will work through the talking points tomorrow morning at the Deputies Committee meeting.”

* September 14, 2012: Press secretary Carney
says: “We were not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent.”

* September 14, 2012: President Obama
again blames the YouTube video for having sparked the violence.

*
September 14, 2012
: The White House asks YouTube to review Innocence of Muslims to see if it complies with the website's terms of use.
* September 14, 2012: CNN journalists find Ambassador Christopher Stevens’ diary amid the rubble of the mission in Benghazi where he was killed three days earlier. The diary reveals that Stevens had been worried for some time about constant security threats, the rise in Islamic extremism, and the fact that his name was on an al Qaeda hit list.

* September 14, 2012: At the receiving ceremony where the bodies of the 4 Americans who were killed in Benghazi are returned to the United States, Hillary Clinton addresses grieving family members. In the course of her remarks, she
says: "We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing to do with." According to the father of the slain Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, Mrs. Clinton “came over … she talked with me. I gave her a hug and shook her hand and she did not appear to be one bit sincere at all and she mentioned about, ‘We’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video.’ That was the first time I even heard about anything like that.”

* September 14, 2012: Also at the receiving ceremony, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Susan Rice each tell Pat Smith -- the mother of slain Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith -- that the cause of the violence that killed her son was the YouTube video. (Source: The O'Reilly Factor: Interview with Pat Smith on May 9, 2013).

* September 14, 2012: At a press briefing, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says that her department
will no longer answer any questions about the attack in Benghazi: “It is now something that you need to talk to the FBI about, not to us about, because it’s their investigation.”

*
September 15, 2012: The Deputies Committee
convenes in the morning to discuss the Benghazi talking points. Some participants meet in person, while others join via a Secure Video Teleconference System (SVTS). Soon after the meeting, a U.S. official sends an email to Ambassador Susan Rice indicating that several people who attended the meeting were -- like Victoria Nuland, who did not participate in the deliberations -- concerned that the CIA’s talking points might lead members of Congress to criticize the State Department for having ignored the CIA’s warning about a possible attack. Further, the email says that CIA deputy director Mike Morell and a small group of individuals from the intelligence community will work with Jake Sullivan -- deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the State Department’s director of policy planning -- to edit and finalize the talking points before sending them on to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which had originated the request for talking points.

*
September 15, 2012: Jake Sullivan, deputy chief of staff to Hillary Clinton, sends an email to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland indicating that he has spoken with President Obama’s top spokesman at the National Security Council, Tommy Vietor: “I spoke with Tommy. We’ll work through this in the morning and get comments back.” In a separate email, Sullivan writes: “Talked to Tommy. We can make edits.”

*
September 15, 2012: After the Deputies Committee meeting, deputy CIA director Mike Morell makes extensive changes to the six-paragraph draft of the talking points, cutting all or parts of four paragraphs of—148 of its 248 words. Most notably, he removes the references to: “Islamic extremists”; CIA warnings about al Qaeda in Libya; “jihadists” in Cairo; terrorists' possible surveillance of the mission compound in Benghazi; and “at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi.” What remains is mostly boilerplate about ongoing investigations conducted in cooperation with the Libyan government. The reference to “attacks” has been changed to “violent demonstrations” that supposedly arose spontaneously in reaction to protests in Egypt and may have included generic “extremists.”

* September 15, 2012: CIA director David Petraeus receives an email of the revised talking points from which all references to al Qaeda, Ansar al Sharia, jihadists, and Islamic extremists have been scrubbed. The only remaining allusion to such forces indicates that “extremists” might have participated in “violent demonstrations.” “Frankly, I’d just as soon not use this,” Petraeus writes to a legislative affairs staffer, but he does not try to persuade the Obama administration to revert to the original CIA assessment of the September 11 attacks.
* 2:44 p.m. on September 15, 2012: In an email to Chip Walter, head of the CIA’s legislative affairs office, CIA director David Petraeus expresses frustration that the talking points have been stripped of much of the information which the CIA had initially provided. Resigned to the fact that the administration is seeking to promote an alternative narrative, Petraeus acknowledges to Walter that the national security staff, and not the CIA, will make the final decisions about what to tell the American people.
* September 14-15, 2012: All told, there have been 12 different versions of the talking points about Benghazi; these evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA, to the final version distributed to Congress and to Susan Rice prior to her September 16th appearances on five television talk shows. The edits were made with extensive input from the State Department.

* September 15, 2012: In his weekly address, President Obama discusses the Benghazi attack but makes no mention of terrorism or terrorists. He does mention, however, the anti-Muslim
video
and “every angry mob” that it inspired in the Middle East.
* September 16, 2012: President Obama's Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, appears on five separate Sunday television news programs where she claims, falsely, that according to the “best information at present,” the deadly attack in Benghazi was not a premeditated assault but rather a “spontaneous reaction” to “a hateful and offensive video that was widely disseminated throughout the Arab and Muslim world.” For example, she tells Bob Schieffer on CBS's Face the Nation:
“We'll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions. But based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy ... sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that—in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent.... We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.”
* September 16, 2012: Rice's assertion is quickly contradicted by Libyan security officials who say that American diplomats were warned as early as September 8th about potential violent unrest in Benghazi.

*
September 16, 2012: Libya’s interim president, Mohammed el-Magariaf, says the attack on the U.S. mission was planned and coordinated by an Islamist group with ties to al Qaeda. Says Magariaf: “The way these perpetrators acted and moved ... this leaves us with no doubt that this was preplanned, determined—predetermined ... It was planned—definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who ... entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act … since their arrival."

*
September 16, 2012
: In an interview with NPR, President Magariaf says: “The idea that this criminal and cowardly act was a spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous. We firmly believe that this was a precalculated, preplanned attack that was carried out specifically to attack the U.S. consulate.”

*
September 16, 2012 (Information from an exchange between Gregory Hicks and Rep. Trey Gowdy, regarding Susan Rice's account of the events in Benghazi):
GOWDY: So fast-forward, Mr. Hicks, to the [September 16, 2012] Sunday talk shows and Ambassador Susan Rice. She blamed this attack on a video. In fact, she did it five different times. What was your reaction to that?

HICKS: I was stunned. My jaw dropped. And I was embarrassed.

GOWDY: Did she talk to you before she went on the five Sunday talk shows?

HICKS: No sir.

GOWDY: You were the highest-ranking official in Libya at the time, correct?

HICKS: Yes sir.

GOWDY: And she did not bother to have a conversation with you before she went on national television.

HICKS: No sir.

GOWDY: So Ambassador Rice directly contradicts the evidence on the ground in Libya, she directly contradicts the president of Libya, she directly contradicts the last statement uttered by Ambassador Stevens. (Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Gregory Hicks before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* September 16, 2012 (Information from an exchange between Gregory Hicks and Rep. Patrick McHenry, regarding Susan Rice's characterization of the September 11th violence as a spontaneous outgrowth of a protest against the YouTube video):
MCHENRY: … Would you have said the things that Ambassador Rice said?

HICKS: Not after hearing what President Mugariaf said, especially considering the fact that he had gone to Benghazi himself, at great personal and political risk. And for him to appear on world television and say this was a planned attack by terrorists is phenomenal. I was jumping up and down when he said that. It was a gift for us, from a policy perspective, from my perspective, sitting in Tripoli.

MCHENRY: And did that occur before September 16th?

HICKS: He said that on the same talk shows with Ambassador Rice. (Source: May 8, 2013 hearing before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* September 16 through early October 2012 (Information from an exchange between Gregory Hicks and Rep. Trey Gowdy, regarding the serious repercussions of Susan Rice's false account of the events in Benghazi):
GOWDY: Mr. Hicks, what impact did [Susan Rice's demonstrably false narrative] have on the ground, in Benghazi -- the fact that she contradicted the president of Libya?

HICKS: ... [A]t the time, we were trying to get the FBI to Benghazi to begin its investigation. And that talk show actually provided an opportunity to make that happen. Afterwards, we encountered bureaucratic resistance for a long period from the Libyans.... It took us an additional 18 days, maybe, to get the FBI team to Benghazi.... (Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Gregory Hicks before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* September 16 through early October 2012 (Information from an exchange between Gregory Hicks and Rep. Paul Gosar, regarding the serious repercussions of Susan Rice's false account of the events in Benghazi):
HICKS: President Magariaf was insulted in front of his own people, in front of the world. His credibility was reduced. His ability to lead his own country was damaged. He was angry. A friend of mine who ate dinner with him in New York during the UN season told me that he was still steamed about the talk shows two weeks later. And I definitely believe that it definitely affected our ability to get the FBI team quickly to Benghazi.... It was a long slog of 17 days to get the FBI team to Benghazi, working with various ministries to get, ultimately, agreement to support that visit.... But at the highest levels of the [Libyan] government, there was never really positive approval.

GOSAR: … Was the crime scene secured during that time [the 17 days]?

HICKS: No, it was not. We repeatedly asked the government of Libya to secure the crime scene and prevent interlopers, but they were unable to do so. (Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Gregory Hicks before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* September 16 through mid-October 2012 (Information from an exchange between Gregory Hicks and Rep. Paul Gosar, regarding how Hicks was mistreated after he questioned Rice's false account of the events in Benghazi):
HICKS: When Assistant Secretary Jones called me after the talk show [the shows on which Susan Rice had appeared on September 16], I asked her why she [Rice] had said there was a demonstration, when we had reported that there was an attack.

GOSAR: … And her reaction was?

HICKS: Her reaction, again, was “I don't know,” and it was very clear from the tone that I should not proceed with [this line of questioning] any further.

GOSAR: Did you receive any negative feedback based on this conversation?

HICKS: Over the next month, I began to receive counseling from Assistant Secretary Jones about my management style, things that I basically was already doing on the ground but nevertheless I implemented everything that she asked me to do.
* Soon after Susan Rice's September 16th TV appearances (Information from an exchange between Gregory Hicks and Rep. Jim Jordan, regarding how Hicks was mistreated after he questioned Rice's false account of the events in Benghazi):
JORDAN: All that [praise and support you received  from the Obama administration] seems to change [after] the phone call you got from Beth Jones [after Susan Rice went on the five Sunday talk shows] ... because you asked Beth Jones what?

HICKS: I asked her why the ambassador had said there was a demonstration, when the embassay (sic) had reported only an attack.

JORDAN: And again, what kind of response did you get from Beth Jones when you asked that question?

HICKS: She said, “I don't know.” … The sense I got was that I needed to stop the line of questioning. (Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Gregory Hicks before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
* Soon after Susan Rice's September 16th TV appearances (Information from an exchange between Gregory Hicks and Rep. Scott Desjarlais, regarding how Hicks was demoted after he questioned Rice's account):
DESJARLAIS: [R]ight after the attack, and before the attack, you had [received] all kinds of praise for your leadership. You got a call from Secretary Clinton. You got a call from the president, praising you for your service and how you handled things. Was there a seminal moment, in your mind, to when all this praise and appreciation turned into something else?

HICKS: In hindsight, I think it began when I asked a question about Ambassador Rice's statement on the TV shows.... I was angry with the way I'd been criticized. I thought it was unfounded. I felt like I'd been tried and convicted in absentia, but I decided I was going to go back and try to redeem myself.
 
DESJARLAIS: What is your job right now?

HICKS: I am a foreign-affairs officer in the Office of Global Intergovernmental Affairs.

DESJARLAIS: A far cry from where you were and your level of capabilities.

HICKS: Yes sir.... I accepted an officer of what's called a “no-fault curtailment.” That means that there would be no criticiam (sic) of my departure of Post, no negative repercussions … The job now is a ... demotion. “Foreign-affairs officer” is a designation that is given to our civil service colleagues who are desk officers. So I've been effectively demoted from deputy chief of mission to desk officer. (Source: May 8, 2013 testimony of Gregory Hicks before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform)
__________________________________________
END OF PART ONE
LINK TO PART TWO

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