Monday, May 20, 2013

Where was the Presidents during night of benghazi?

Finally !!!!! – Someone (Chris Wallace) Asks Where Was The President During The Benghazi attack….

Seven months we’ve been waiting for someone, anyone, to ask the White House staff what was President Obama doing on the night the Benghazi attacks took place.    We have researched this on our own and have him tracked from 4pm to around 7:30pm (EST).  But after 7:30pm it is a total BLACKOUT – an unknown void of information.
Finally after seven MONTHS.  Chris Wallace asks White House Communications Director, Dan Pfeiffer, what was President Obama doing.  [Please watch this video clip in its entirety before continuing]
Of course Dan Pfeiffer pulls the familiar “what difference does it make” angle, with his claim that it is an “irrelevant fact“.
WRONG – they are hiding what actually took place that night.   They are desperately trying to cover the President’s intentional uninvolvement.
The two people, the National Security Advisors, you keep hearing Dan Pfeiffer refer to in that video clip with Wallace are, Tom Donilon and Denis McDonough.
Perhaps now the media has accepted the fact that the “talking points” were highly manipulated, they will turn their investigative eye onto the origin, and subsequently on to something we outlined earlier:
Back in January we posted a discussion around a newly released photo from the White House. The picture was taken in the oval office on Sept 11th 2012, the date of the Benghazi attack.
At the time we thought the picture was worth a thousand words. After research, and with the hindsight of the latest revelations, it appears we were correct. Yet again, it provides more sunlight into the events surrounding the Benghazi, Libya events and who made the critical decisions in those moments of crisis.
At 5pm, according to the White House and media reports, President Obama was set for a prior scheduled meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey. It was just prior to this meeting that White House National Security Advisor Tom Donilon tells President Obama of the attack and the fire at the main villa…
… long the meeting took is unknown, but we do know by 6:30pm President Obama and Joe Biden were on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
White House 9-11-12
(Sept. 11, 2012)”Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor, left, updates the President and Vice President on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and Chief of Staff Jack Lew are at right.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
The picture above was taken at exactly 7:28:16pm DC time. It was dusk outside, and President Obama had just completed a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Why is this important? Because we know the conversation lasted an hour.
Sept 11, 2012 President Obama spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu for an hour tonight as a part of their ongoing consultations. The two leaders discussed the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program, and our close cooperation on Iran and other security issues. (link)
So we know the phone call began at around 6:30pm and ended just before 7:28pm.
What is equally important is what was taking place in Libya (Benghazi) during the time the Netanyahu phone call took place.
The attack against the CIA/State Dept. Consulate began at 3:40pm D.C. time. So this phone call between Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama started three hours after the attack began.
What is also revealing about this photograph is who was where, why, and what decisions were being made.
It might seem odd that both President Obama and Vice-President Biden would simultaneously be tied up, indeed it is a breach of previously established security protocols for this exact “crisis” and “leadership need” reason.
But, they are used to doing it all the time – and besides, what are the odds of something actually being urgent while they are both engaged, and needing one of them immediately.
Indeed the odds are slim. Slim, but this was one of those moments when it actually existed; and had massive consequences.
You can see the phone notes in the hands of Joe Biden. Actually if you enhance the picture and zoom in on the notes you can see they are notes, in Biden’s handwriting, of the phone call discussion contents between Netanyahu and Obama. Whether or not BiBi knew Biden was also on the call is unknown, but he was indeed taking copious notes.
biden hands
(on the left you see the notes from Biden 9/11/12 - on the right you see notes from Biden taken during the Vice-Presidential debate)
Context of Netanyahu Phone Call: It is important to remember how much flack President/Candidate Obama was getting from the opposition about his previously ignoring Netanyahu around the BiBi United Nations speech.
This call was perceived as important by both the Obama Campaign and White House advisors to a defensive pro-Israel narrative. It could not be skipped by a candidate needing to assure the Jewish electorate of his Israel-Cred. So from 6:30pm to 7:26 pm both Vice-President, Joe Biden, and President Obama, were “indisposed”.
This phone call took place between 12:30pm and 1:26am Benghazi time. Again, three hours after the attack began at 9:40pm. By the time the picture was taken at 7:26pm (DC) Ambassador Stevens was widely known to be missing – perhaps killed.
According to numerous reports, in Benghazi, around the same time, CIA operatives and former SEAL’s Tyrone Woods and Glenn Doherty were returning from the Consulate complex to the CIA annex with the body of State Dept. Aide to Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith. Ambassador Stevens was missing.
Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith
Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith
In Libya, during this Oval Office call, Woods and Doherty were setting up defensive positions on the roof of the CIA annex building and maintaining a defensive perimeter while calling for more support.
Annex w-backgate
So we know POTUS and VPOTUS were out-of-the-decision-loop. Who was making the decisions on behalf of the Commander and Chief?
Back to the timeline – and remember, this is the TIMED VERSION initially released to the media:
(5 p.m. D.C.): Just ahead of the weekly meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey, White House National Security Advisor Tom Donilon tells President Obama of the attack and the fire at the main villa….
(6:07 p.m. D.C): An alert from the State Dept. Operations Center states that the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli reports the Islamic military group “Ansar al-Sharia Claims responsibility for Benghazi Attack”… “on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli.”
(6:30 p.m. D.C.) : The Pentagon issues an order to a special operations team in Europe to move to Sigonella, Sicily – less than one hour’s flight away from Benghazi…. [Obama and Biden are now on the phone with Netanyahu] Who is in charge?
(7 p.m. D.C.): The first of two unmanned U.S. Predator drones, which already had been flying over eastern Libya, is diverted to Benghazi, as reported by CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson and David Martin on Oct. 15. [Obama and Biden are still on the phone with Netanyahu] Who is in charge?
(7:30 p.m. D.C.): A U.S. security team from Embassy Tripoli lands in Benghazi and learn that the ambassador is missing. They try to arrange for transportation into town, with the goal of locating Stevens. [Phone call over - Obama and Biden are being updated by Denis McDonough as per the picture]
White House 9-11-12 Donilon - McDonough
But who was representing the Commander In Chief ? During that critical hour?
(From 2011) With little to no experience guiding them, everything becomes a first-impression type situation to Obama’s inner crew. To the point, Henry Kissinger reportedly, refers to Obama’s group of advisers as, “kids.” [...]
One of Obama’s closest advisers is his Deputy National Security Adviser. The person acting the part of Deputy National Security Adviser is one Denis McDonough. While McDonough enjoys the credentials of a well-educated 41-year-old, he has sparse work experience. Working on the hill as a legislative aide before transferring to a liberal think tank before campaigning for Obama before becoming Deputy National Security Adviser, is good for McDonough but embarrassing to the position which he holds. [...]
McDonough has a reputation around D.C. – as a rabid mind-fixer in his mission to ‘set the record straight’ with democratic politicians and mainstream media types, who dare veer off the political reservation. It’s rather humorous in a way to see a glorified political functionary like McDonough act the part of a seasoned and experienced political heavyweight. McDonough was promoted out of ideological loyalty over convention. Try telling McDonough that and he’ll likely piss ideological vinegar all over you. But the thing with McDonough’s verbal piss, it doesn’t stain things, it can’t… it’s too inexperienced.
Above said, guess who is guiding Obama on the crisis in Egypt and the pending melt-down in the Middle East? If you guessed the low cal aperitivo named Denis McDonough, you would be correct. The United States’ official response to the crisis in Egypt has so far been one big massive embarrassment. President Obama is getting bad advice; advice that is fueling his ideological ego; advice that is clearly immature in nature and devoid of geopolitical experience. (link)
Perhaps this insight from Newt Gingrich , after he spoke to a “key senator” provides some clarity to the “fog”:
“There is a rumor — I want to be clear, it’s a rumor — that at least two networks have emails from the National Security Adviser’s office [Denis McDonough? or Tom Donilon?] telling a counterterrorism group to stand down,” [Newt] Gingrich said.” (link)
Newt Gingrich was specifically talking about his knowledge of a communication known by at least one Senator, and given to two media outlets – who did not use it. It makes sense:
Did Denis McDonough tell people to “stand down” while POTUS and VPOTUS were on the phone with BiBi and unable to be interrupted ?
At 7:26pm (DC) 1:30am (Benghazi) -when this picture was taken – Ty Woods and Glen Doherty were fighting for their lives.
While Denis McDonough was bringing POTUS up to speed, at that exact moment, events in Benghazi had spiraled. What took place next, and why they did not reverse the “stand down call” is unknown.
Perhaps, as they later espoused ad infinitum, they considered it too late, after all, this 7:26pm update probably revealed the status of Ambassador Stevens as “Missing presumed Dead”.
Damage control time….. Here comes the origin of the talking points…..
Denis McDonough jumped into action and provided the good cover story.

The cover story already existed because earlier in the same day the State Dept was getting questioned about the attack in Cairo, Egypt. Again, at another embassy – and a story had already begun about a U-Tube video.
McDonough just needed to continue the same narrative story.
Which he did, effectively, the following day: [McDonough on Sept 12th]
“This work takes on added urgency given the truly abhorrent video that has offended so many people–Muslims, and non-Muslims alike—in our country and around the world.” (link)
There you have McDonough, the next day, attaching the little known U-Tube video from the Cairo Embassy explanation, directly to the Benghazi, Libya attack.
What followed in the days, weeks, and even months ahead, was just a continuance of the same manufactured explanation during the “peak” of the 2012 election cycle.
After all, it was this same 41-year-old “kid”, McDonough, who was the key deflector between POTUS and the crisis that was “Fast and Furious“:
“Investigative journalists have provided details on McDonough’s background and work history in politics, but the information that makes McDonough relevant to the continually breaking news on the Fast and Furious scandal is his role in silencing complaints from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)…” (link)
What’s more likely? Flawed intelligence, or having already succeeded in stemming the investigative crisis that became “Fast and Furious, McDonough just applied the same mindset and skillset to the Benghazi crisis. Creating a firewall between the absence of executive leadership during the critical crisis hours, and the State Dept/DoD failed response.
If the media would set their mind to it they might find this picture is worth “A Thousand Words” indeed:
White House 9-11-12 Donilon - McDonough
Sept. 11: The Attack
2:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (8:30 p.m. Benghazi time): U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens steps outside the consulate to say goodbye to a Turkish diplomat. There are no protesters at this time. (“Everything is calm at 8:30,” a State Department official would later say at an Oct. 9 background briefing for reporters. “There’s nothing unusual. There has been nothing unusual during the day at all outside.”)
3 p.m.: Ambassador Stevens retires to his bedroom for the evening. (See Oct. 9 briefing.)
Approximately 3:40 p.m. A security agent at the Benghazi compound hears “loud noises” coming from the front gate and “gunfire and an explosion.” A senior State Department official at the Oct. 9 briefing says that “the camera on the main gate reveals a large number of people – a large number of men, armed men, flowing into the compound.”
About 4 p.m.: This is the approximate time of attack that was given to reporters at a Sept. 12 State Department background briefing. An administration official identified only as “senior administration official one” provides an official timeline of events at the consulate, but only from the time of the attack — not prior to the attack. The official says, “The compound where our office is in Benghazi began taking fire from unidentified Libyan extremists.” (Six of the next eight entries in this timeline — through 8:30 p.m. EDT — all come from the Sept. 12 briefing unless otherwise noted.)
About 4:15 p.m.: “The attackers gained access to the compound and began firing into the main building, setting it on fire. The Libyan guard force and our mission security personnel responded. At that time, there were three people inside the building: Ambassador Stevens, one of our regional security officers, and Information Management Officer Sean Smith.”
Between 4:15 p.m.-4:45 p.m.: Sean Smith is found dead.
About 4:45 p.m.: “U.S. security personnel assigned to the mission annex tried to regain the main building, but that group also took heavy fire and had to return to the mission annex.”
About 5:20 p.m.: “U.S. and Libyan security personnel … regain the main building and they were able to secure it.”
Around 6 p.m.: “The mission annex then came under fire itself at around 6 o’clock in the evening our time, and that continued for about two hours. It was during that time that two additional U.S. personnel were killed and two more were wounded during that ongoing attack.”
6:07 p.m.: The State Department’s Operations Center sends an email to the White House, Pentagon, FBI and other government agencies that said Ansar al-Sharia has claimed credit for the attack on its Facebook and Twitter accounts. (The existence of the email was not disclosed until Reuters reported it on Oct. 24.)
About 8:00 p.m.: Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya Gregory Hicks briefs Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on developments in Benghazi from his post in Tripoli. He would later say that “most of the conversation was about the search for Ambassador Stevens.” He tells her that the remaining personnel in Benghazi should evacuate and she agrees. (Hicks gave his account of the phone call at a May 8, 2013, hearing of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform.)
About 8:30 p.m.: “Libyan security forces were able to assist us in regaining control of the situation. At some point in all of this – and frankly, we do not know when – we believe that Ambassador Stevens got out of the building and was taken to a hospital in Benghazi. We do not have any information what his condition was at that time. His body was later returned to U.S. personnel at the Benghazi airport.”
About 10:00 p.m.: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issues a statement confirming that one State official was killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Her statement, which MSNBC posted at 10:32 p.m., made reference to the anti-Muslim video.
Clinton: Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. 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 never any justification for violent acts of this kind.
Sept.12: Obama Labels Attack ‘Act of Terror,’ Not ‘Terrorism’
Sept. 12: Clinton issues a statement confirming that four U.S. officials, not one, had been killed. She called it a “violent attack.”
Clinton: All the Americans we lost in yesterday’s attacks made the ultimate sacrifice. We condemn this vicious and violent attack that took their lives, which they had committed to helping the Libyan people reach for a better future.
Sept. 12: Clinton delivers a speech at the State Department to condemn the attack in Benghazi and to praise the victims as “heroes.” She again makes reference to the anti-Muslim video in similar language.
Clinton: Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. America’s 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.
Sept. 12: Obama delivers a morning speech in the Rose Garden to address the deaths of U.S. diplomats in Libya. He said, “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.” He also makes reference to the anti-Muslim video when he says: “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 uses the term “act of terror” later that night when talking about the attack at a campaign event in Las Vegas.
Sept. 12: After his Rose Garden speech, Obama tapes an interview for “60 Minutes.” Obama says he didn’t use the word “terrorism” in his Rose Garden speech because “it’s too early to know exactly how this came about.” Steve Kroft, the show’s host, wonders how the attack could be described as a “mob action” since the attackers were “very heavily armed.” Obama says “we’re still investigating,” but he suspects “folks involved in this . . . were looking to target Americans from the start.”
⬐ Click to expand/collapse the full transcript ⬏
Sept. 12: Senior administration officials, who did not permit use of their names, hold a briefing with reporters to answer questions about the attack. Twice officials characterize those involved in the attack as “extremists.” In one case, an official identified only as “senior administration official one” is asked by Fox News reporter Justin Fishel if the administration had ruled out the possibly that the attack was in response to the anti-Muslim video. The official says, “We just don’t know.”
⬐ Click to expand/collapse the full transcript ⬏
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell asks officials to address news reports that the attack has been “linked to a terror attack, an organized terror attack,” possibly al Qaeda. The official refers to it as a “complex attack,” but says it is “too early to say who they were” and their affiliation.
⬐ Click to expand/collapse the full transcript ⬏
Sept. 12, 4:09 p.m.: 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 responds, “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.”
Sept. 12: Libya’s deputy ambassador to London, Ahmad Jibril, tells the BBC that Ansar al-Sharia was behind the attack. The little-known militant group issues a statement that says it “didn’t participate as a sole entity,” neither confirming nor denying the report.
Sept. 12, 6:06 p.m.: Beth Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for the Near East, sends an email to top State Department officials that reads in part: “[T]he group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic extremists.” (An excerpt of Jones’ email was read by Rep. Trey Gowdy at the May 8, 2013, House oversight hearing.)
Sept. 12: Citing unnamed “U.S. government officials,” Reuters reports that “the Benghazi attack may have been planned in advance” and that members of Ansar al-Sharia “may have been involved.” Reuters quotes one of the U.S. officials as saying: “It bears the hallmarks of an organized attack.”
Sept. 13: ‘Clearly Planned’ or ‘Spontaneous’ Attack?
Sept. 13: 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 Clinton for what he called “this terrorist attack which took place against the American consulate in Libya.” Clinton, in her remarks, does not refer to it as a terrorist attack. She condemns the anti-Muslim video, but adds that there is “never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”
⬐ Click to expand/collapse the full transcript ⬏
Sept. 13: At a daily press briefing, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was asked if the Benghazi attack was “purely spontaneous or was premeditated by militants.” She declined to say, reiterating that the administration did not want to “jump to conclusions.”
⬐ Click to expand/collapse the full transcript ⬏
Sept. 13: Clinton met with Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad-Eddine Al-Othmani. She condemned what she called the “disgusting and reprehensible” anti-Muslim video and the violence that it triggered. She said, “Islam, like other religions, respects the fundamental dignity of human beings, and it is a violation of that fundamental dignity to wage attacks on innocents. As long as there are those who are willing to shed blood and take innocent life in the name of religion, the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace.”
Sept. 13: At a campaign event in Colorado, Obama again uses the phrase “act of terror.” He says: “I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished.”
Sept. 13: CNN reports that unnamed “State Department officials” say the incident in Benghazi was a “clearly planned military-type attack” unrelated to the anti-Muslim movie.
CNN: “It was not an innocent mob,” one senior official said. “The video or 9/11 made a handy excuse and could be fortuitous from their perspective but this was a clearly planned military-type attack.”
Sept. 14: White House Says No Evidence of Planned Attack
Sept. 14: Clinton spoke at Andrews Air Force Base at a ceremony to receive the remains of those killed in Benghazi. She remarked that she received a letter from the president of the Palestinian Authority praising Stevens and “deploring — and I quote — ‘an act of ugly terror.’ ” She, however, did not call it an act of terror or a terrorist attack and neither did the president.
Sept. 14: At a State Department press briefing, spokeswoman Nuland says the department will no longer answer any questions about the Benghazi attack. “It is now something that you need to talk to the FBI about, not to us about, because it’s their investigation.”
Sept. 14: At a White House press briefing, Press Secretary Carney denies reports that it was a preplanned attack. “I have seen that report, and the story is absolutely wrong. We were not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent. That report is false.” Later in that same briefing, Carney is told that Pentagon officials informed members of Congress at a closed-door meeting that the Benghazi attack was a planned terrorist attack. Carney said the matter is being investigated but White House officials “don’t have and did not have concrete evidence to suggest that this was not in reaction to the film.”
⬐ Click to expand/collapse the full transcript ⬏
Sept. 14: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta meets with the Senate Armed Services Committee. Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, reports that Republicans and Democrats came away with the conclusion that the Benghazi attack was a planned terrorist attack.
⬐ Click to expand/collapse the full transcript ⬏
Sept. 15-16: Susan Rice Contradicts Libyan President
Sept. 15: Obama discusses the Benghazi attack in his weekly address. He makes no mention of terror, terrorists or extremists. He does talk about the anti-Muslim film and “every angry mob” that it inspired in pockets of the Middle East.
⬐ Click to expand/collapse the full transcript ⬏
Sept. 16: Libya President Mohamed Magariaf says on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that the attack on the U.S. consulate was planned months in advance. But Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, tells CBS News’ Bob Schieffer: “We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.” She says it began “spontaneously … as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo,” and “extremist elements” joined in the protest. (It was later learned that Rice received her information from the CIA.)
Update, May 16, 2013: The talking points given to Rice were extensively revised, largely at the request of the State Department. The original CIA talking points said, “We do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.” And they said that “[i]nitial press reporting linked the attack to Ansar al-Sharia.” References to al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia were removed. However, all of the drafts say the attack began “spontaneously” in response to the Cairo protest. Read our article “Benghazi Attack, Revisited” for more information on what changes were made to the talking points.
⬐ Click to expand/collapse the full transcript ⬏
Sept. 16: Magariaf says in an interview with NPR: “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.”
Sept. 17: State Defends Rice and ‘Initial Assessment’
Sept. 17: Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, is asked about Rice’s comments on “Face the Nation” and four other Sunday talk shows. Nuland says, “The comments that Ambassador Rice made accurately reflect our government’s initial assessment.” Nuland uses the phrase “initial assessment” three times when discussing Rice’s comments.
Sept. 18: Obama Says ‘Extremists’ Used Video As ‘Excuse’
Sept. 18: Obama was asked about the Benghazi attack on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” The president said, “Here’s what happened,” and began discussing the impact of the anti-Muslim video. He then said, “Extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the consulate in Libya.” He also said, “As offensive as this video was and, obviously, we’ve denounced it and the United States government had nothing to do with it. That’s never an excuse for violence.”
Sept. 18: Asked about Magariaf’s assessment that the video had nothing to do with the terrorist attack in Benghazi, the White House spokesman says Obama “would rather wait” for the investigation to be completed. “But at this time, as Ambassador Rice said and as I said, our understanding and our belief based on the information we have is it was the video that caused the unrest in Cairo, and the video and the unrest in Cairo that helped — that precipitated some of the unrest in Benghazi and elsewhere,” Carney says. “What other factors were involved is a matter of investigation.”
Sept. 18: After meeting with Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Patricia Espinosa, Clinton speaks with reporters and is asked if the Libyan president is “wrong” that “this attack was planned for months.” Clinton says, “The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has said we had no actionable intelligence that an attack on our post in Benghazi was planned or imminent.” She does not say if Magariaf is right or wrong.
Sept. 19: Olsen Calls It a ‘Terrorist Attack’
Sept. 19: Matt Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, tells a Senate subcommittee (at 1:06:49 in the video) that the four State Department officials in Benghazi “were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy.” It is the first time an administration official labeled it a “terrorist attack.” But he also tells the senators that he has no “specific evidence of significant advanced planning.”
⬐ Click to expand/collapse the full transcript ⬏
Sept. 19: At a State Department briefing, the department spokeswoman is asked if she now believes that the attack was a “terrorist attack”? She says, “Well, I didn’t get a chance to see the whole testimony that was given by Matt Olsen of the NCTC, but obviously we stand by comments made by our intelligence community who has first responsibility for evaluating the intelligence and what they believe that we are seeing.”
Sept. 19: The White House spokesman does not call it a “terrorist attack” in his press briefing. Carney says, “Based on the information we had at the time — we have now, we do not yet have indication that it was preplanned or premeditated. There’s an active investigation. If that active investigation produces facts that lead to a different conclusion, we will make clear that that’s where the investigation has led.”
Sept. 20: W.H. Spokesman Calls It a ‘Terrorist Attack’ — Not Obama
Sept. 20: Carney calls it a “terrorist attack” after being asked how the White House now classifies the attack. But he says the White House has no evidence that it was “a significantly preplanned attack” and blames the video for igniting the incident in Benghazi.
⬐ Click to expand/collapse the full transcript ⬏
Sept. 20: Obama, at a town hall meeting, says “extremists” took advantage of the “natural protests” to the anti-Muslim video to attack the consulate in Benghazi. He does not call it a “terrorist attack.”
Question: We have reports that the White House said today that the attacks in Libya were a terrorist attack. Do you have information indicating that it was Iran, or al Qaeda was behind organizing the protests?
Obama: Well, we’re still doing an investigation, and there are going to be different circumstances in different countries. And so I don’t want to speak to something until we have all the information. What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.
Sept. 21: Clinton Calls It a ‘Terrorist Attack’
Sept. 21: Clinton, speaking to reporters before a meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, calls it a “terrorist attack” for the first time. She says, “Yesterday afternoon when I briefed the Congress, I made it clear that keeping our people everywhere in the world safe is our top priority. What happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack, and we will not rest until we have tracked down and brought to justice the terrorists who murdered four Americans.”
Sept. 24-25: Obama Refuses to Call It a Terrorist Attack
Sept. 24: Clinton meets with the Libyan president and calls the Benghazi attack a “terrorist assault.” She says, “As we all know, the United States lost a great ambassador and the Libyan people lost a true friend when Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the terrorist assault on our consulate in Benghazi.”
Sept. 24: Obama tapes an appearance on “The View,” and he’s asked by co-host Joy Behar whether the Libya attack was an act of terrorism or caused by the anti-Muslim video. He does not call it a terrorist attack and says, “We’re still doing an investigation.”
⬐ Click to expand/collapse the full transcript ⬏
Sept. 25: Obama speaks at the United Nations. He praises Chris Stevens as “the best of America” and condemns the anti-Muslim video as “crude and disgusting.” He does not describe the Benghazi attack as a terrorist attack.
Sept. 26: ‘Let’s Be Clear, It Was a Terrorist Attack’
Sept. 26: Carney is asked at a press briefing aboard Air Force One en route to Ohio why the president has not called the Benghazi incident a “terrorist attack.” He said, “The president — our position is, as reflected by the NCTC director, that it was a terrorist attack. It is, I think by definition, a terrorist attack when there is a prolonged assault on an embassy with weapons. … So, let’s be clear, it was a terrorist attack and it was an inexcusable attack.”
Sept. 26: Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, in an interview with Al Jazeera, is asked whether he agrees with the president of Libya that the Benghazi attack was premeditated and had nothing to do with the anti-Muslim video. He said: “It’s clear that the attack which took the lives of Chris Stevens and three other colleagues was clearly choreographed and directed and involved a fair amount of firepower, but exactly what kind of planning went into that and how it emerged on that awful night, we just don’t know right now. But I’m confident we’ll get to the bottom of it.”
Sept. 27: When Did Administration Know?
Sept. 27: At a press briefing, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says that “it was a terrorist attack,” but declines to say when he came to that conclusion. “It took a while to really get some of the feedback from what exactly happened at that location,” he said. “As we determined the details of what took place there, and how that attack took place, that it became clear that there were terrorists who had planned that attack.”
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the same briefing addresses what the U.S. knew in advance of the Benghazi attack. He says there was “a thread of intelligence reporting that groups in … eastern Libya were seeking to coalesce, but there wasn’t anything specific and certainly not a specific threat to the consulate that I’m aware of.”
Sept. 27: In a report on “Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees,” Fran Townsend, former Homeland Security adviser to President George W. Bush, says the administration knew early on that it was a terrorist attack. “The law enforcement source who said to me, from day one we had known clearly that this was a terrorist attack,” she says.
Sept. 27-28: Intelligence ‘Evolved’
Sept. 27: The White House spokesman is asked yet again why the president has refused to call the incident a terrorist attack. “The president’s position [is] that this was a terrorist attack,” Carney says.
⬐ Click to expand/collapse the full transcript ⬏
Sept. 28: Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the director of national intelligence, says in a statement that the office’s position on the attack evolved. It was first believed that “the attack began spontaneously,” but it was later determined that “it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack,” he says.
Turner: In the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo. We provided that initial assessment to Executive Branch officials and members of Congress, who used that information to discuss the attack publicly and provide updates as they became available. Throughout our investigation we continued to emphasize that information gathered was preliminary and evolving.
As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists. It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate.
Oct. 2-3: Clinton Cites ‘Continuing Questions’
Oct. 2: White House spokesman Carney at a press briefing in Nevada: “At every step of the way, the administration has based its public statements on the best assessments that were provided by the intelligence community. As the intelligence community learned more information they updated Congress and the American people on it.”
Oct. 3: Clinton tells reporters after a meeting with Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov: “There are continuing questions about what exactly happened in Benghazi on that night three weeks ago. And we will not rest until we answer those questions and until we track down the terrorists who killed our people.”
Oct. 9: ’Everything Calm’ Prior to Benghazi Attack, No Protests
Oct. 9: At a background briefing, senior state department officials reveal there were no protests prior to the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi — contrary to what administration officials have been saying for weeks. A senior department official says “everything is calm at 8:30 p.m.” (Libya time) when Stevens was outside the building to bid a visitor goodbye. The ambassador retired to his bedroom for the evening at 9 p.m. The calm was shattered by 9:40 p.m. when “loud noises” and “gunfire and an explosion” are heard. (The background briefing provided on Sept. 12 also said the attack began at about 10 p.m., or about 4 p.m. EDT, but it did not provide information about what happened prior to the attack.)
A senior official says it was “not our conclusion” that the Benghazi attack started as a spontaneous protest to the anti-Muslim video. He also said “there was no actionable intelligence of any planned or imminent attack.”
⬐ Click to expand/collapse the full transcript ⬏
Oct. 10: Administration Says It Gave Public ‘Best Information’
Oct. 10: Carney, the White House spokesman, is asked at a press briefing why the president and administration officials described the anti-Muslim video as the underlying cause of the attack on Benghazi when the State Department “never concluded that the assault in Benghazi was part of a protest on the anti-Muslim film.” He replied, in part: “Again, from the beginning, we have provided information based on the facts that we knew as they became available, based on assessments by the intelligence community — not opinions — assessments by the IC, by the intelligence community. And we have been clear all along that this was an ongoing investigation, that as more facts became available we would make you aware of them as appropriate, and we’ve done that.”
Oct. 10: After testifying before a House committee, Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy is asked at a press briefing what the State Department should have done differently in releasing information about the Benghazi attack. He said, “We are giving out the best information we have at the time.”
⬐ Click to expand/collapse the full transcript ⬏
Oct. 10: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform releases State Department memos requesting additional security in Libya. Charlene Lamb, a State Department official who denied those requests, tells the committee that the State Department had been training local Libyans for nearly a year and additional U.S. security personnel were not needed. As reported by Foreign Policy: “We had the correct number of assets in Benghazi on the night of 9/11,” Lamb testified. Others testified differently. “All of us at post were in sync that we wanted these resources,” testified Eric Nordstrom, the top regional security officer in Libya over the summer, Foreign Policy reported.
Oct. 15: Clinton Blames ‘Fog of War’
Oct. 15: Clinton, in an interview on CNN, blamed the “fog of war” when asked why the administration initially claimed the attack began with the anti-Muslim video, even though the State Department never reached that conclusion. “In the wake of an attack like this in the fog of war, there’s always going to be confusion, and I think it is absolutely fair to say that everyone had the same intelligence,” Clinton said. “Everyone who spoke tried to give the information they had. As time has gone on, the information has changed, we’ve gotten more detail, but that’s not surprising. That always happens.”
Oct. 15: The New York Times reports that the Benghazi attack came “without any warning or protest,” but “Libyans who witnessed the assault and know the attackers” say it was “in retaliation for the video.”
Oct. 24: White House, State Department Emails on Ansar al-Sharia
Oct. 24: Reuters reports the White House, Pentagon and other government agencies learned just two hours into the Benghazi attack that Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamic militant group, had “claimed credit” for it. The wire service report was based on three emails from the State Department’s Operations Center. One of the emails said, “Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripol.” The article also noted, “Intelligence experts caution that initial reports from the scene of any attack or disaster are often inaccurate.” (It should be noted that Reuters first reported on Sept. 12 that unnamed U.S. officials believed that Ansar al-Sharia may have been involved.)
Oct. 24: Clinton warns at a press conference that you cannot draw conclusions from the leaked emails because “cherry-picking one story here or one document there” can be misleading. She said, “The independent Accountability Review Board is already hard at work looking at everything — not cherry-picking one story here or one document there — but looking at everything, which I highly recommend as the appropriate approach to something as complex as an attack like this. Posting something on Facebook is not in and of itself evidence, and I think it just underscores how fluid the reporting was at the time and continued for some time to be.”
Oct. 24: Carney, the White House spokesman, says that “within a few hours” of the attack Ansar al-Sharia “claimed that it had not been responsible.” He added, “Neither should be taken as fact — that’s why there’s an investigation underway.”
May 8, 2013: At a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, Rep. Trey Gowdy reads excerpts of a Sept. 12, 2011, email written by Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East Beth Jones. According to Gowdy, Jones wrote, “I spoke to the Libyan ambassador and emphasized the importance of Libyan leaders to continue to make strong statements,” and “When he said his government suspected that former Qaddafi regime elements carried out the attack, I told him that the group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic extremists.” Gowdy said the email was sent to several top State Department officials, including Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy. The committee did not release the full contents of the email. House Speaker John Boehner said the State Department did not allow the House to keep a copy of it.)
May 15, 2013: The White House releases 100 pages of emails regarding the CIA’s original talking points that were developed for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and used by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice during her Sept. 16 Sunday talk show appearances. The emails show there were extensive changes made at the request of the State Department. (See “Sept. 16″ in our timeline for more information.)
Update, Nov. 6, 2012: This article was updated to add the president’s Sept. 12 interview with “60 Minutes,” which did not release the video and transcript until Nov. 4.
Update, May 9, 2013: This article was updated to include testimony from the May 8, 2013, hearing of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform.
– by Eugene Kiely


National Counterterrorism Center. “Terrorism Definitions.” 27 Aug 2010.
U.S. Department of State. “Briefing by Senior Administration Officials to Update Recent Events in Libya.” 12 Sep 2012.
U.S. Department of State. “Statement on the Attack in Benghazi.” 11 Sep 2012.
Reuters. “U.S. confirms death of official in Benghazi attack.” 11 Sep 2012.
U.S. Department of State. “Statement on the Death of American Personnel in Benghazi, Libya.” 12 Sep 2012.
U.S. Department of State. “Remarks on the Deaths of American Personnel in Benghazi, Libya.” 12 Sep 2012.
White House. “Remarks by the President on the Deaths of U.S. Embassy Staff in Libya.” 12 Sep 2012.
White House. “Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event — Las Vegas, NV.” 12 Sep 2012.
White House. “Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney en route Las Vegas, NV.” 12 Sep 2012.
Banerji, Robin. “Did Ansar al-Sharia carry out Libya attack?” 12 Sep 2012.
Roggio, Bill. “Ansar al Shariah issues statement on US Consulate assault in Libya.” 12 Sep 2012.
Spetalnick, Matt and Hadeel Al Shalchi. “Obama vows to track down ambassador’s killers.” Reuters. 12 Sep 2012.
U.S. Department of State. “Remarks at Reception Marking Eid ul-Fitr.” 13 Sep 2012.
U.S. Department of State. “Daily Press Briefing.” 13 Sep 2012.
U.S. Department of State. “Remarks at the Opening Plenary of the U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue.” 13 Sep 2012.
White House. “Remarks by the President in Golden, CO.” 13 Sep 2012.
Aarthun, Sarah. “4 hours of fire and chaos: How the Benghazi attack unfolded.” CNN. 13 Sep 2012.
U.S. Department of State. “Remarks at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony to Honor Those Lost in Attacks in Benghazi, Libya.” 14 Sep 2012.
White House. “Remarks by the President at Transfer of Remains Ceremony for Benghazi Victims.” 14 Sep 2012.
U.S. Department of State. “Daily Press Briefing.” 14 Sep 2012.
White House. “Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney.” 14 Sep 2012.
Lesniewski, Nils. “Senators Question Leon Panetta About Syria, Libya.” Roll Call. 14 Sep 2012.
CBS News. “Face the Nation.” 16 Sep 2012.
White House. “Weekly Address: Carrying on the Work of Our Fallen Heroes.” 15 Sep 2012.
Fadel, Leila. “Consulate Attack Preplanned, Libya’s President Says.” NPR. 16 Sep 2012.
CBS. “The Late Show with David Letterman.” 17 Sep 2012.
White House. “Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney.” 18 Sep 2012.
U.S. Department of State. “Remarks With Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Patricia Espinosa After Their Meeting.” 18 Sep 2012
U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. ”Homeland Threats and Agency Responses.” 19 Sep 2012
U.S. Department of State. “Daily Press Briefing.” 19 Sep 2012
White House. “Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney.” 19 Sep 2012
White House. ”Remarks by the President at Univision Town Hall with Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas.” 20 Sep 2012
U.S. Department of State. “Remarks With Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar Before Their Meeting.” 21 Sep 2012
U.S. Department of State. “Remarks With Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf Before Their Meeting.” 24 Sep 2012
Knox, Oliver. “Obama: Libya attack ‘wasn’t just a mob action’.” Yahoo News. 24 Sep 2012.
Madhani, Aamer. “Team Romney: Obama fails to call Libya incident terror.” USA Today. 26 Sep 2012.
White House. “Remarks by the President to the UN General Assembly.” 25 Sep 2012.
White House. ”Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney Aboard Air Force One en route Ohio.” 26 Sep 2012.
U.S. Department of State. “Interview with Al-Jazeera.” 26 Sep 2012.
U.S. Department of Defense. “DOD News Briefing with Secretary Panetta and Gen. Dempsey from the Pentagon.” 27 Sep 2012.
CNN. “Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees.” 26 Sep 2012.
Office of the Director of National Intelligence. ”Statement by the Director of Public Affairs for ODNI, Shawn Turner, on the intelligence related to the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.” 28 Sep 2012
White House. ”Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney en route Virginia Beach, Virginia.” 27 Sep 2012.
White House. ”Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney.” 2 Oct 2012.
U.S. Department of State. ”Remarks With Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov After Their Meeting.” 3 Oct 2012.
U.S. Department of State. “Background Briefing on Libya.” 9 Oct 2012.
Klapper, Bradley. “State Dept reveals new details of Benghazi attack.” Associated Press. 10 Oct 2012.
White House. “Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney.” 10 Oct 2012.
U.S. Department of State. “Hearing on Benghazi Security Issues.” 10 Oct 2012.
U.S. Department of State. “Interview with Elise Labott of CNN.” 15 Oct 2012.
Kirkpatrick, David. “Election-Year Stakes Overshadow Nuances of Libya Investigation.” New York Times. 15 Oct 2012.
Hosenball, Mark. “White House told of militant claim two hours after Libya attack: emails.” Reuters. 23 Oct 2012.
U.S. Department of State. “Remarks With Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguiar Patriota After Their Meeting.” 24 Oct 2012.
White House. “Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney en route Davenport, Iowa.” 24 Oct 2012.
Posted by Eugene Kiely on Friday, October 26, 2012

No comments: