What Happened in Benghazi?

If you missed “Special Report Investigates:  Death and Deceit in Benghazi” , reported by Bret Baier, it will air again on Fox News on Sunday October 21 at 3PM and 10PM Eastern.

I watched it on Friday night.  Here is a summary of a few of the things I learned:

Some background:

April 2011 – US sends Ambassador Stevens and 12 man team to Benghazi which is now under rebel control.  Stevens is special representative to the rebels.  He sets up at Tibesty Hotel.

June 2011 – A car bomb explodes in front of the hotel

August 2011 –  Stevens and team decide it’s too dangerous to stay at the hotel, so they move to a villa, rented from a private owner (referred to as the “compound” going forward)  on the west side of the city.   The compound has four buildings:

  • A large building which is a main residence
  • A smaller building which is also a residence and contains a cantina
  • A building that is used as a Tactical Operations Center (referred to as the “TOC” going forward), with offices for security staff, containing phones, monitors, etc.
  • A barracks building housing a Libyan security force.

October 2011 – Khadafy is killed by rebels

After the assassination of Khadafy, Stevens spends much of his official time at the US Embassy in Tripoli, but continues to return to the compound in Benghazi.   The State Dept.  upgrades the physical security of the compound by heightening the outer walls, and adding barbed and razor wire.  They also fortify the building by erecting a “safe haven” within it.  One must get thru a heavy metal grill with several locks to get into the safe haven.

Other security:

  • At the Benghazi compound, there are 5 diplomatic security agents, and 4 members of the Libyan government security force, known as “The 17th February Brigade”
  • About a mile away from the compound is the Annex, where there are more security personnel
  • Based in Tripoli, there is the “Site Security Team” (referred to as the “SST” going forward), placed by the US Department of Defense
  • The “Mobile Security Detachment” (referred to as the “MSD” going forward),  a State Dept. team, consisting of  Green Berets and Navy Seal types

February 2012 – Lt. Colonel Andrew Wood arrives for his assignment in Libya as the Commander of the SST.  The SST contains 16 special operations soldiers.  According to Wood this team is high caliber, the best in US inventory and can make a difference in any fight.  The SST tour is scheduled to end in the summer of 2012

Spring 2012 – In the last year, 230 security incidents have occurred.  Lt. Colonel Wood observes that terrorists are working on and implementing bigger and more sophisticated attacks

It is observed that there is an uptick in targeted terror attacks in Libya, specifically against Westerners:

  • April 2012 –  A bomb tossed into Benghazi compound;  no injures
  • June 2012 –  IED explodes at compound gate;  no injuries
  • June 2012 – Convoy carrying British ambassador is ambushed in Benghazi.   The Ambassador is not injured,  but two of his security team are

Lt. Colonel Wood and Eric Nordstrom, a regional security agent, communicate with State Dept. asking that SST remain in Libya beyond the end of summer deadline

August 2012 – State Dept. denies request to keep SST deployed, for reasons unknown.  The request was denied by Charlene Lamb, a State Dept. official

In addition, the MSD personnel is being reduced

August 14th 2012 – Lt. Colonel Wood and the SST leave Libya

Here is the story of the attack.  It sounds just like a spontaneous reaction to an insulting video:

9/11/12 (keep in mind that Tripoli time is 6 hours ahead of US time):

Stevens is in Benghazi for a full day of meetings starting early morning.  He specifically has the meetings here, away from the embassy, because he realizes the dangers that can arise on the anniversary of 9/11.

His last meeting is at 7:30 PM with a Turkish diplomat in the main building that was previously fortified with the addition of the safe haven.  At 8:30 PM he escorts the diplomat to the gate of the main building.  He talks briefly with the guards.

At 9:00 PM Stevens decides to turn in.  In the main building with Stevens are Info Management Officer Sean Smith and four “diplomatic security” special agents.  Another agent is in the TOC.  All agents armed with pistols

At 9:40 PM – Attackers storm the compound, and break thru the front gate of the villa.

They first torch the barracks of the Libyan security force.  They are well armed, organized, and carrying Islamic flag.

Agent in TOC sees what is happening on the monitors and activates the Imminent Danger Notification System, which alerts the Quick Reaction Security Team, The 17th February Brigade, the US Embassy in Tripoli, and the Diplomatic Command Security Center in DC.

Meanwhile, Special Agent David Ubin gets Stevens from his bedroom in the main residence building, and the two, along with Sean Smith, enter a windowless room in the “safe haven” that was previously built.  Right outside the wall of this room is the gate that was built as part of the fortification.

Ubin radios others in the compound to say they are OK.

The other three special agents who were in the main building, amidst the explosions and gunfire all around them, are scrambling to get arms and armor from the other buildings.  Two of them head back to the main residence but are thwarted by large group of armed men.  They turn back to barracks and barricade themselves in

At this point there are 7 Americans at three locations:  Stevens, Smith, and Ubin in the main building, 2 special agents in cantina building, and 2 in TOC building.

Attackers penetrate the cantina but don’t get to the agents, and they leave.

Attackers are now at main residence.   Stevens is here with Ubin and Smith.   Attackers try to open the main gate to the safe haven.  Ubin has his weapon ready to fire.   Attackers can’t break in so they pour gasoline, light it, and leave.

By 10:00 PM the safe haven is thick with smoke.   Stevens, Ubin, and Smith move to a back room, within the safe haven, that has a window they try to open but cannot.  Overcome with smoke, they try to crawl on the floor for air, but still cannot breath.   They decide to leave safe haven and take their chances with attackers.   As they are moving, they find another window and jimmy it open.  Ubin climbs out, but the two others do not follow him.  He goes back in to look for them but cannot find them.  There is smoke, so he climbs back out for air, and then back in; he does this several times but cannot find Stevens and Smith.   Finally he is depleted from the smoke and climbs up a ladder to the roof of the building where he collapses and radios the other agents.

A US agent in full regalia leaves the TOC throwing a smoke grenade to hide his movement.  He goes to the cantina and locates the two agents there.  The three get in an armored vehicle and drive to the larger main building (where Stevens and Smith still are) and take turns climbing in thru the window to find their colleagues.    They find Smith, and pull him out.   He is dead.

There is a security team at the Annex a mile away.   The Annex personnel are 6 American men and 16 men from the Libyan militia.  They arrive at the compound; some surround the compound while others go in.   They are unable to find Stevens.

By 11:00 PM the Annex forces can no longer hold the perimeter.  The US agents, carrying Smith, pile into an armored vehicle and head back to the Annex.  They are being fired upon and the vehicle is damaged but they still manage to make it back to the Annex.

At this point, I don’t know, and the report didn’t say, what happened to Stevens while the agents were unable to locate him.

Later, after midnight, looters enter the compound and find Stevens’ body slumped on the floor.  They drag him out of the building thinking he is likely dead.  But he was not.

At around 1:00 AM, Stevens is brought to the Benghazi Medical Center where doctors work to resuscitate him for 45 minutes.  He is pronounced dead of severe asphyxiation.

Sometime after 1:30 AM, a team of reinforcements from the US Embassy in Tripoli arrives at the Benghazi airport. They make their way to the Annex, where, according to reports, they were going into an ambush.  At around 4:00 AM the Annex is hit with another wave of attacks which is planned and precise. Fighters hit the Annex with AK47 fire and rocket propelled grenades.   Those inside the Annex retreat to a back building in the Annex compound.     Killed are two US security personnel, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both Navy seals.   Badly injured is Special Agent David Ubin.

Eventually, the fighters are repelled and the Annex is secured.   The fighters make the decision to abandon the operation.

September 12, at 8:30 AM, a plane leaves Libya carrying the surviving Americans and the bodies of Stevens, Smith, Doherty, and Woods.    It is less than a month since the SST was removed from the area, and Lt. Colonel Wood, Commander of the SST, believes if they were allowed to remain as they had requested, the story here would be a lot different.

The Attempt to Spin:

9/12/12 – In Rose Garden President Obama speech embraces the idea that the four Americans were killed in a spontaneous riot incited by an anti-Mohammed internet video

9/12/12 – Interview on 60 Minutes Obama says he “….continues to be pretty certain that there are gonna be bumps in the road”

9/12/12 – Obama leaves for campaign trip to Las Vegas

9/13/12 – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggests the attack was just a spontaneous demonstration in response to the anti-Islam video

9/14/12 – Press Secretary Jay Carney says “….  These protests were in reaction to a video”

9/14/12 – Receiving the bodies at the US airport Clinton says “… we’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video…”

9/15/12 – California authorities haul in Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, who produced the video, for questioning, marching him in front of television cameras

9/16/12 – UN Ambassador Susan Rice appears on five (5) different Sunday talk shows echoing  “What happened initially, it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo, as  a consequence of a video………….”

9/17/12 – When asked at a State Dept. presser, “Does the US Government regard what happened in Benghazi an act of terror?”;  Spokeswoman:  “Again, I’m not gonna put labels on this until we have a complete investigation, ok?”.  When pressed she said “I don’t think we know enough”.

9/18/12 – White House Presser:  Question:  “Did the administration have any sort of heads-up that violence was increasing, specifically in Libya, before the attack?”; Jay Carney: “I’m not aware of any….”

9/18/12 – Obama on Late Night with David Letterman:  “We had a video that was released by somebody who lives here, sort of a shadowy character.   This caused great offense in much of the Muslim world, but what also happened was extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies including the consulate in Libya”

9/19/12 – Capitol Hill, the head of the National Counter-terrorism Center states “I would say yes, they were killed in the course of an attack on our embassy”

9/24/12 – Obama appearing on The View states:  “There’s no doubt that the kind of weapons that were used, the ongoing assault, that it wasn’t just a mob action”

9/25/12 – At the United Nations, Obama mentions the video six times in his address

10/08/12 – At a San Francisco fund raiser Obama pushed the idea that the threat from al-Qaida is waning

10/09/12 – The State Dept. provides off –camera blow by blow description of the attack, where reporters learn the compound was overwhelmed by an organized assault

10/10/12 – Congress holds a hearing about the attack, where Americans finally learn that State Dept. officials, despite repeated communications regarding the state of affairs in Libya, refused to beef up security.


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