an al Qaeda-linked militant group that also is backed by some Libyan government officials, claimed responsibility. That was a tip to Washington that this was a terrorist assault, not part of Muslim protests in the region over an American-produced anti-Islam video.
As it turned out, only three February 17 Martyrs Brigade members were at the consulate, along with five U.S. security officers. Outmatched, they proved unable to stop scores of militants storming through a gate, firing grenades and using diesel fuel to set fire to the compound.
Mr. Stevens sought safety in the living quarters, which became engulfed in flames.
A nearby CIA base, identified by the State Department as one of its annexes, sent a rescue team of martyrs brigade members and at least one former Navy SEAL, Tyrone Woods. They collected all the staff they could find amid fires and gunshots, and returned to the annex in armored cars — minus the ambassador, whose wheremilitary did not send in a combat terrorist operation, a U.S. intelabouts was unknown. rescue team, or use air power ligence official told The Times.
Now close to midnight in to strike the attacking militants No longer in Libya at the time Libya, the CIA officers sent urgent during the seven- to eight-hour of the attack, Mr. Nordstrom radio messages to headquarters battle, said the military did not and Col. Wood later tried to asin Langley asking for the military have sufficient intelligence. sess the bureaucratic battle they to send help, Fox News reported “The basic principle is that fought to retain more security Oct. 26. It said the CIA had oryou don’t deploy forces into assets in Benghazi. dered the officers not to attempt The next day, the Obama adharm’s way without knowing “We were fighting a losing the rescue, but they went anyway. ministration began blaming the what’s going on, without havbattle,” Col. Wood said. “We No military help was sent. attack on a “spontaneous” proing some real-time information couldn’t even keep what we had. An unmanned spy aircraft, test sparked by the anti-Muslim about what’s taking place,” he We were not even allowed to whose video signal could be revideo. said. “And as a result of not havkeep what we had.” layed to policymakers in WashThat assertion apparently ing that kind of information, the Mr. Nordstrom recalled a ington, buzzed overhead during was based on an instant assesscommander who was on the phone call with a regional dipart of the raid. The House Overment by Director of National ground in that area, Gen. Ham, rector asking for 12 additional sight and Government Reform Intelligence James Clapper, who Gen. [Martin] Dempsey, [Joint agents. Committee says a 50-minute reoversees the nation’s civilian and Chiefs chairman], and I felt very “His response to that was, cording exists, but it has not been military spy agencies. strongly that we could not put ‘You’re asking for the sun, moon provided to Congress. But that instant assessment forces at risk in that situation.” and the stars,’ ” the security of
At the White House during the was not unanimous. Asked why the existence of a ficer said. “And my response attack, President Obama and DeThe Defense Intelligence firefight at the Benghazi annex to him, ‘You know what makes fense Secretary Leon E. Panetta Agency on Sept. 12 briefed the did not provide a clear picture, [this] the most frustrating about met in the Oval Office. Pentagon that the attack likely Mr. Panetta said: “This happened this assignment? It’s not the
Seven hours later, a rescue was carried out by Ansar alwithin a few hours, and it was hardships. It’s not the gunfire. contingent from Tripoli, with LibShariah, The Washington Times really over before we had the It’s not the threats. It’s dealing yan personnel, made its way from has reported. The Defense Intelopportunity to really know what and fighting against the people, the airport to the annex, which ligence Agency made no menwas happening.” programs and personnel who then came under mortar fire. tion of protesters. By Sept. 16, the national inare supposed to be supporting
Mr.Woodsme.’andfellowformer The Associated Press retelligence director changed his SEAL Glen Doherty, whose job ported that the CIA station chief assessment. Mr. Clapper aban“And I ended it by saying, ‘For was to guard the CIA officers, had in Tripoli also blamed militants. doned the “spontaneous” explame, the Taliban is on the inside been killed. Mr. Panetta, in his first public nation and told the White House of the building,” Mr. Nordstrom
The team learned that Mr. remarks Oct. 25 on why the U.S. that the attack was a planned said. Stevens had been found dead, presumedly from smoke inhalation, and was taken to a hospital.
The new mission: Gather the living and dead, and escape to the airport.
After the attack