2012 Benghazi attack
|2012 Benghazi attack|
|Part of the 2011–present Libyan factional fighting|
|Date||September 11–12, 2012
22:00 – 02:00 EET (UTC+02:00)
|Target||United States consulate and second location (annex)|
|Attack type||Coordinated Terrorism, armed assault, rioting, arson|
|Weapon(s)||Rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades, assault rifles, 14.5 mm anti-aircraft machine guns, truck mounted artillery, diesel canisters, mortars|
|Injured (non-fatal)||3 Americans, 7 Libyans|
|Suspected perpetrators||The Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades; Ansar al-Sharia; Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb Al Qaeda in Iraq; Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula|
The American diplomatic mission at Benghazi, in Libya, was attacked on September 11, 2012 by heavily armed terrorists. The attack began during the night at a compound that is meant to protect the main diplomatic building.A second assault in the early morning the next day targeted a nearby CIA annex in a different compound. Four people were killed, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Ten others were injured. The attack was strongly condemned by the governments of Libya, the United States, and many other countries throughout the world.
Many Libyans praised the late ambassador and staged public demonstrations against the militias that had formed during the civil war to oppose leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. The Libyan government also began attempts to disband many of the groups. The United States increased security worldwide at various diplomatic and military facilities and began investigating the attack. Initially, there was speculation that the attacks were a spontaneous response to a video, Innocence of Muslims, but a U.S. State Department investigation found that it was a premeditated attack by Islamist militants. The Obama administration was accused of over-emphasizing the role of the video, and took issue with the investigation and the response of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
According to CNN, between 1998 and 2011, U.S. diplomatic sites were subjected to 13 deadly attacks in Nairobi, Kenya; Calcutta, India; Lima,Peru; Karachi, Pakistan; Bali, Indonesia; Karachi, Pakistan; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Damascus, Syria; Athens, Greece; Istanbul, Turkey; Yemen; and Peshawar, Pakistan. One of these incidents occurred during the presidency of Bill Clinton, and 11 occurred during George W. Bush's presidency. The 2012 Benghazi attack was the second deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic facility that occurred during President Obama's first term.
In the aftermath of the attack, investigators identified more than a dozen violent events in Benghazi during the previous six months. On October 2, 2012, three weeks after the attacks, Darrell Issa (R-CA, chairman of the Committee) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT, chairman of the subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations) sent a letter to Secretary of State Clinton which listed a number of these events—including car jackings, kidnappings, assassination attempts, and gun battles. The letter stated, "Put together, these events indicated a clear pattern of security threats that could only be reasonably interpreted to justify increased security for U.S. personnel and facilities in Benghazi.". According to Jack Murphy and Brandon Webb in "Benghazi: The Definitive Report," the Regional Security Office in Tripoli "compiled a list of 234 security incidents in Libya between June 2011 and July 2012, 50 of which took place in Benghazi.":30
- In April 2012, two former security guards for the consulate threw a homemade "fish bomb" IED over the consulate fence; the incident did not cause any casualties. Just 4 days later, a similar bomb was thrown at a four vehicle convoy carrying the United Nations Special Envoy to Libya, exploding just 12 feet from the UN envoy’s vehicle without injuring anyone.
- In May 2012 an Al-Qaida affiliate calling itself the Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades claimed responsibility for an attack on the International Red Cross (ICRC) office in Benghazi. On August 6 the ICRC suspended operations in Benghazi. The head of the ICRC's delegation in Libya said the aid group was "appalled" by the attack and "extremely concerned" about escalating violence in Libya.
- The Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades released a video of what it said was its detonation of an explosive device outside the gates of the U.S. consulate on June 5, which caused no casualties but damaged the consulate's perimeter wall, described by one individual as "big enough for forty men to go through." The Brigades claimed that the attack was in response to the killing of Abu Yahya al Libi, a Libyan al-Qaeda leader who had just died in an American drone attack, and was also timed to coincide with the imminent arrival of a U.S. diplomat. There were no injuries, but the group left behind leaflets promising more attacks against the U.S.
- British ambassador to Libya Dominic Asquith survived an assassination attempt in Benghazi on June 10. Two British protection officers were injured in the attack when their convoy was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade 300 yards from their consulate office. The British Foreign Office withdrew all consular staff from Benghazi in late June.
- On June 18, 2012, the Tunisian consulate in Benghazi was stormed by individuals affiliated with Ansar Al-Sharia Libya, allegedly because of "attacks by Tunisian artists against Islam.":31
- On the day of the attack:
- Al Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri declared that al Libi's death still needed to be avenged.
- In Egypt, 2000 Salafist activists protested against the film "Innocence of Muslims" at 5pm EET (11am EDT) at the US embassy in Cairo.
- President Obama was attending a 9/11 ceremony in the morning, and in the afternoon he visited with wounded veterans at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for two-and-a-half hours about the time the Benghazi attack began.
- Two consulate security guards spotted a man in a Libyan police uniform taking pictures of the consulate with his cell phone from a nearby building that was under construction. The security guards briefly detained the man before releasing him. He drove away in a police car and a complaint was made to the Libyan police station. Sean Smith noticed this surveillance, posting on the internet "assuming we don't die tonight. We saw one of our 'police' that guard the compound taking pictures.":34
After the attack, CNN reported that a Benghazi security official and a battalion commander had met with U.S. diplomats three days before the attack and had warned the Americans about deteriorating security in the area. The official told CNN that the diplomats had been advised, "The situation is frightening, it scares us."
On September 14, CNN correspondent Arwa Damon found Ambassador Stevens' diary at the unsecured site of the attack. In it, Stevens expressed his concern about the growing al-Qaeda presence in the area and his worry about being on an al-Qaeda hit list. The U.S. State Department later accused CNN of violating privacy and breaking its promise to Stevens' family that it would not report on the diary.
After a meeting to discuss the deteriorating security situation at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, embassy officials in Tripoli drafted a cable on August 16 outlining the circumstances and specifying that security needs would be made known in a subsequent message. This cable, excerpts from which have been reported by Fox News, still remains classified. But after reading it, Army General Carter Ham, then the head of the U.S. Africa Command and thus the senior U.S. military official in the region, phoned Stevens and asked if the compound needed a special security team from the U.S. military. Stevens told Ham it did not, according to two government officials interviewed by McClatchy News Service. Weeks later, Stevens traveled to Germany for an already scheduled meeting with Ham at AFRICOM headquarters. During that meeting, Ham again offered additional military assets, and Stevens again said no, the two officials said.
The Benghazi attack consisted of military assaults on two separate U.S. diplomatic compounds. The first assault occurred at the main compound, approximately 300 yards long and 100 yards wide, at about 9:40 pm local time (3:40 pm EDT, Washington DC). The second assault took place at a CIA annex 1.2 miles away at about 4 am the following morning. It has been referred to as the Battle of Benghazi.
Assault on the Consulate
Between 125 and 150 gunmen, "some wearing the Afghan-style tunics favored by Islamic militants," are reported to have participated in the assault. Some had their faces covered and wore flak jackets. Weapons they used during the attack included rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), hand grenades, AK-47 and FN F2000 NATO assault rifles, diesel canisters, mortars, and heavy machine guns and artillery mounted on gun trucks.
The assault began at nightfall, with the attackers sealing off streets leading to the main compound with gun trucks. The trucks bore the logo of Ansar al-Sharia, a group of Islamist militants working with the local government to manage security in Benghazi.
The area outside the compound before the assault was quiet; one Libyan guard who was wounded in the attack was quoted as saying “there wasn’t a single ant outside.” There was no sign of a spontaneous protest against an American-made movie denigrating Islam's Prophet Muhammad. But a lawyer passing by the scene said he saw the militants gathering around 20 youths from nearby to chant against the film. No more than seven Americans were in the compound, including Ambassador Stevens, who was visiting Benghazi at the time to review plans to establish a new cultural center and modernize a hospital. Ambassador Stevens had his last meeting of the day with a Turkish diplomat and escorted him to the main gate at about 8:30 pm (local time). The street outside the compound was calm; the State Department reported no unusual activity during the day outside. Ambassador Stevens retired to his room about 9 pm; he was alone in the building, according to guards interviewed later.
About 9:40 pm (local time) large numbers of armed men shouting "Allāhu Akbar" descended on the compound from multiple directions. The attackers lobbed grenades over the wall and entered the compound under a barrage of automatic weapons fire and RPGs, backed by truck-mounted artillery and anti-aircraft machine guns. A Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agent viewed on the consulate's security cameras "a large number of men, armed men, flowing into the compound." He hit the alarm and started shouting, “Attack! Attack!” over the loudspeaker. Phone calls were made to the embassy in Tripoli, the Diplomatic Security Command Center in Washington, the Libyan February 17 Brigade, and a U.S. quick reaction force located at a second compound (the annex) a little more than a mile away. Ambassador Stevens telephoned Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks in Tripoli to tell him the consulate was under attack. Mr. Hicks did not recognize the phone number so he didn't answer it, twice. On the third attempt Mr. Hicks answered the call from Ambassador Stevens.
Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent Scott Strickland secured Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith, an information management officer, in the main building's safe haven. Other agents retrieved their M4 carbines and tactical gear from another building. They tried to return to the main building but encountered armed attackers and retreated.
The attackers entered the main building and rattled the locked metal grille of the safe haven. They carried jerrycans of diesel fuel, spread the fuel over the floor and furniture, and set fires. As thick smoke filled the building, Stevens, Smith, and Strickland moved to the bathroom and lay on the floor, but they decided to leave the safe haven after being overcome by smoke. Strickland exited through the window, but Stevens and Smith did not follow him. Strickland returned back several times but couldn't find them in the smoke; he went up to the roof and radioed other agents.
Three agents returned to the main building in an armored vehicle; they searched the building and found Smith's body, but not Stevens.
The Regional Security Office sounded the alarm and placed calls to the Benghazi CIA annex and the embassy in Tripoli, saying, "We're under attack, we need help, please send help now..." Then the call cut off. After some discussion, the CIA's Global Response Staff (GRS) at the CIA annex, which included senior security operative Tyrone S. Woods, decided to implement a rescue. By 10:05pm, the team was briefed and loaded into their armored Toyota Land Cruisers. By this time, communicators at the CIA annex were notifying the chain of command about current developments, and a small CIA and JSOC element in Tripoli that included Glen Doherty was attempting to find a way to Benghazi.:39-43
The GRS team from the CIA annex arrived at the consulate and attempted to secure the perimeter and locate the ambassador and Sean Smith. They located Smith, who was unconscious and later declared dead, but were unable to find Stevens in the smoke-filled building. The team then decided to return to the annex with the survivors and Smith's body. While en route back to the annex, the group's armored vehicle was hit by AK-47 rifle fire and hand grenades. The vehicle was able to make it to its destination with two flat tires, however, and the gates to annex were closed behind them at 11:50pm.:43-45
Abdel-Monem Al-Hurr, the spokesman for Libya's Supreme Security Committee, said roads leading to the Benghazi consulate compound were sealed off and Libyan state security forces had surrounded it.
A U.S. Army commando unit was sent to Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy the night of the attack but did not deploy to Benghazi. U.S. officials say the team did not arrive at Sigonella until after the attack was over.
Reaction in the United States
Diplomatic Security Service agents/Regional Security Officers informed their headquarters in Washington about the attack just as it was beginning at about 9:40 local time (3:40PM Eastern Time). By 4:30 Eastern, Pentagon officials informed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about the attack. The Pentagon ordered an unmanned aerial vehicle that was in the air conducting surveillance on militant camps to fly over Benghazi. The drone arrived at 11:10 pm local time (5:10 pm Eastern Time) and began providing a video feed to Washington. At 5:41 pm Eastern Time, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned CIA Director David Petraeus to coordinate. The CIA, which made up most of the US government's presence in Benghazi, had a ten-member security team at its annex and the State Department believed that this team would assist the consulate in the event of an attack.
Recovery of Ambassador Stevens
At about 1 am the body of Ambassador Stevens was found by local citizens and taken to the Benghazi Medical Center. At the hospital Stevens was administered CPR for 90 minutes by Dr. Ziad Abu Zeid. According to Abu Zeid, Stevens died from asphyxiation caused by smoke inhalation. A 22-year-old freelance videographer, Fahd al-Bakoush, later published a video showing Libyans trying to extract the unconscious ambassador from a smoke-filled room, where he was found unconscious, which confirms reports that suggested the U.S. envoy died of asphyxiation after the building was set afire.
Some of the Libyans who entered the compound tried to rescue Stevens after they found him lying alone on the floor in a dark smoke-filled room with a locked door accessible only by a window. A group of men pulled him out of the room through the window, and then placed him on the courtyard's stone tile floor. The crowd cheered "God is great" when Stevens was found to be alive. He was then rushed to the hospital in a private car as there was no ambulance to carry him.
Dr. Ziad Abu Zeid, the Libyan doctor who treated Stevens, said Stevens died of severe asphyxiation, that Stevens had no other injuries, and that he tried for 45 minutes to revive him. The doctor said he believed that officers from the Libyan Interior Ministry transported the body to the airport and into United States custody. State Department officials said they do not know who took Stevens to the hospital or transported the body to the airport and into U.S. custody.
Assault on the CIA annex
Just after midnight, an attack on the CIA annex began, which included machine gun, rocket and mortar fire. The CIA defenses held off the attack until the morning of September 12.:45-46 Early in the morning, Libyan government forces met up with a group of Americans (reinforcements from Tripoli including Glen Doherty) that had arrived at the Benghazi airport. The team, which included two active-duty JSOC operators and five CIA personnel, had commandeered a small jet in Tripoli by paying the pilots $30,000 and forcing them to fly the team to Benghazi.:43 After being held up at the airport for a few hours, the Libyan forces and newly arrived Americans went to the CIA annex at about 5:00am to assist in transporting approximately 32 Americans at the annex back to the airport for evacuation. Minutes after they drove through the gates, the annex came under heavy fire. The team immediately took up defensive positions. With a lull in the fighting, Glen Doherty began searching for his friend, Tyrone S. Woods, and he was told he was on the roof manning a MK46 machine gun. He found Woods on the roof with two other agents, they quickly embraced, filled each other in, and retook defensive firing positions. After only a few minutes, a mortar round hit Woods' position, fatally wounding him. As Doherty attempted to reposition and take cover, a second round fell on him, killing him instantly.:46-47 31-year-old David Ubben suffered shrapnel injuries and several broken bones in the mortar attacks, and according to Ubben's father, "The first [mortar] dropped 50 yards short and the next two were right on target."
Immediately, several agents ran onto the roof to assess damage and help the wounded, who were taken from the roof with a ladder. At the same time, a JSOC operator was using a hand-held device displaying images from a Predator drone above, which had been sent by the DOD's Africa Command after request. The operator told the Chief of Base, "There's a large element assembling, and we need to get everyone out of here now!" Evacuation was agreed upon, and everyone was notified to collect their personal security items and evacuate. Within minutes, vehicles were loaded, and they headed to the airport. On the way, they were hit with small arms fire, but arrived with no further injuries.:47-48
During the fighting, the CIA had successfully rescued six State Department personnel, recovered Smith's body, and had evacuated about thirty Americans out of Benghazi alive. Most news accounts do not mention the number of attackers killed. "Benghazi: The Definitive Report" claims that just under 100 attackers were killed.:46, 48
The bodies were taken to Benina International Airport and flown to the capital, Tripoli, and then to Ramstein Air Base in Germany aboard a C-17 military transport aircraft. From Germany, the four bodies arrived at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., where President Barack Obama and members of his cabinet held a ceremony in honor of those killed.
After the attack, all diplomatic staff were moved to the capital, Tripoli, with nonessential personnel to be flown out of Libya. Sensitive documents remained missing, including documents listing the names of Libyans working with the Americans, and documents relating to oil contracts.
Fatalities and injuries
|Members of U.S. diplomatic mission who died in Benghazi, Libya|
|J. Christopher Stevens,
U.S. Ambassador to Libya
|Sean Smith, U.S. Foreign Service
Information Management Officer
|Glen Doherty||Tyrone S. Woods|
Four Americans died in the attack: Ambassador Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, and two embassy security personnel, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALs. Stevens is the first U.S. ambassador killed in an attack since Adolph Dubs was killed in 1979. Senior intelligence officials later acknowledged that Woods and Doherty were contracted by the Central Intelligence Agency, not the State Department as previously identified, and were part of a Global Response Staff (GRS), a team that provides security to CIA case officers and countersurveillance and surveillance protection. On September 14 the remains of the slain Americans were returned to the United States. President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored the Benghazi victims at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.
Initial reports indicated that ten Libyan guards died; this was later retracted and it was reported that seven Libyans were injured. Three Americans were injured in the attack and treated at an American Military Hospital in Germany.
Glen Anthony Doherty (c. 1970–September 11, 2012) of Encinitas, was a native of Winchester, Massachusetts, and a 1988 graduate of Winchester High School. Doherty was the second of three children born to Bernard and Barbara Doherty. He trained as a pilot at Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University before moving to Snowbird, Utah for several winters and then joining the United States Navy. Doherty served as a Navy SEAL, responded to the bombing of the USS Cole, had tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and left the Navy in 2005 as a petty officer, first class. After leaving the Navy, he worked for a private security company in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Kenya and Libya. In the month prior to the attack, Doherty as a contractor with the State Department told ABC News in an interview that he personally went into the field in Libya to track down MANPADS, shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, and destroy them.
Doherty was a member of the advisory board of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an organization that opposes proselytizing by religious groups in the United States military. Doherty was coauthor of the book The 21st Century Sniper.
Doherty's funeral was held at Saint Eulalia's parish in his native Winchester on September 19, 2012. His celebration of life was held in Encinitas, California the weekend of October 12–14, 2012.
Tyrone S. Woods
Tyrone Snowden Woods (January 15, 1971 – September 12, 2012), of Imperial Beach, was born in Portland, Oregon. Woods graduated from Oregon City High School in 1989, south of Portland, Oregon, and served 20 years of honorable service in the U.S. Navy before joining State Department Diplomatic Security as a U.S. embassy security personnel, working under a service contract. Since 2010, Woods had protected American diplomats in posts from Central America to the Middle East.
As a Navy SEAL in 2005-06, Woods was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with combat "V" Device for valor in Iraq. He led 12 direct action raids and 10 reconnaissance missions leading to the capture of 34 enemy insurgents in the volatile Al Anbar province. He served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Middle East and Central America. He retired as a senior chief petty officer in 2007.
Woods also served with distinction at the Naval Medical Center San Diego as a registered nurse and certified paramedic. Having settled in Imperial Beach, California, for a year of his retirement he owned The Salty Frog bar there; he is survived by his second wife, Dr. Dorothy Narvaez-Woods, their one daughter, and two sons from a previous marriage. Woods was buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.
David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times reported that 20-year-old neighbor Mohamed Bishari witnessed the attack. According to Bishari, it was launched without warning or protest and was led by the Islamist militia Ansar al-Sharia (different from the group called Ansar al-Sharia based in Yemen designated by the U.N. and the U.S. Department of State as a terrorist organization). Kirkpatrick reported that Ansar al-Sharia said they were launching the assault in retaliation for the release of the anti-Islamic video, Innocence of Muslims. It was further reported that Ahmed Abu Khattala was called a ringleader of the attack by both witnesses and authorities, though he insisted he did not play a part in the aggression at the American compound. Witnesses, Benghazi residents, and Western news reports have described him as a leader of Ansar al-Sharia, though he stated he was close to the group but not an official part of it. He further stated he was the commander of an Islamist brigade, Abu Obaida ibn al-Jarrah, some of who's members had joined Ansar al-Sharia. An intercepted phone call from the Benghazi area immediately after the attack reportedly linked senior Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar to the attack.
The Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades, a pro-al-Qaeda militia calling for the release of The Blind Sheik, was implicated in the attack by Noman Benotman of the Quilliam Foundation. CNN, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Commentary Magazine and The Daily Telegraph have listed this group as a chief suspect. USA Today reported that protests in Cairo which preceded the attack on Benghazi were intended to protest the imprisonment of Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman and announced as early as August 30. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi had called for release of the Blind Sheikh in his inaugural address.
In the days and weeks following the attack, President Obama and other administration officials noted that the video had sparked violent incidents at a number of U.S. diplomatic facilities and stated it was also a prime catalyst for the Benghazi attack. Two days after the attack, CNN reporter Sarah Aarthun quoted an anonymous senior U.S. administration official: "It was not an innocent mob. 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." In his September 18 appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, President Obama said that "extremists and terrorists used (the anti-Muslim YouTube video) as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies." In his Univision Town Hall appearance on September 20, President Obama said 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." A later report from an independent review board concluded "there was no protest prior to the attacks."
In October 2012, a Tunisian Ali Harzi, who a US intelligence official stated had links to Ansar al-Sharia and al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, was arrested in Turkey and repatriated to Tunisia on terrorism charges and possible links to the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi. Ali Harzi was released by Tunisian authorities on January 8, 2013 due to lack of evidence.
Also in October, a Libyan suspect Karim el-Azizi, who had recently returned to Egypt from Libya and was storing weapons in his hideout, detonated a bomb and was found dead in his apartment after clashes with security forces. He has been linked to an Egyptian terrorist group led by Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad, who is suspected of training some of the terrorists responsible for the Benghazi attack in camps in the Libyan desert. Jamal Abu Ahmad, a former member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, was released from Egyptian prison after the fall of the Mubarak regime, after which he began assembling a terrorist network referred to as the Jamal group. He received financing from the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, petitioned Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to establish a new Al-Qaeda affiliate he called al-Qaeda in Egypt, and was subsequently detained by Egyptian authorities in December 2012.
In March 2013, Faraj al-Shibli was detained by Libyan authorities and questioned by the FBI due to his suspected involvement in the Benghazi attack. Al-Shibli was detained after he returned from a trip to Pakistan, though his exact role in the attack is unclear. He was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which tried to overthrow the Gadhafi regime in the mid-1990s. Investigators have learned he has had contact with both the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Al-Qaeda members in Pakistan. In May 2013, it was reported that 3 operatives from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took part in the attack.
Aftermath and controversy
Libyan Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur's office condemned the attack and extended condolences, saying: "While strongly condemning any attempt to abuse the person of Muhammad, or an insult to our holy places and prejudice against the faith, we reject and strongly condemn the use of force to terrorize innocent people and the killing of innocent people." It also reaffirmed "the depth of relationship between the peoples of Libya and the U.S., which grew closer with the positions taken by the U.S. government in support of the revolution of February 17." Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf, the President of the General National Congress of Libya, said: "We apologise to the United States, the people and to the whole world for what happened. We confirm that no-one will escape from punishment and questioning."
There were demonstrations in Benghazi and Tripoli on September 12, condemning the violence and holding signs such as "Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans," "Benghazi is against terrorism," and other signs apologizing to Americans for the actions in their name and in the name of Muslims. On the same day, Libya's Deputy Ambassador to London Ahmad Jibril told the BBC that Ansar Al-Sharia was behind the attack. On September 13, at a US State Department reception in Washington D.C., the Libyan ambassador to the US Ali Aujali apologized to Secretary of State Clinton for “this terrorist attack which took place against the American consulate in Libya.” The ambassador further praised Stevens as a "dear friend" and a "real hero". He also urged the United States to continue supporting Libya as it went "through a very difficult time" and that the young Libyan government needed help so that it could "maintain...security and stability in our country."
In the days after the attack, The New York Times stated that young Libyans had flooded Twitter with pro-American messages after the attacks. Think Progress stated that Libyans are typically more positively inclined towards the United States than their neighbors. A 2012 Gallup poll noted that "A majority of Libyans (54%) surveyed in March and April 2012 approve of the leadership of the U.S. – among the highest approval Gallup has ever recorded in the... region, outside of Israel."  Another poll in Eastern Libya, taken in 2011, reported that the population was at the same time both deeply religious conservative Muslims and very pro-American, with 90% of respondents reporting favorable views of the United States.
The Libyan response to the crisis was praised and appreciated in the United States, and President Obama emphasized how the Libyans "helped our diplomats to safety" to an American audience the following day, while a New York Times editorial criticized Egypt's government for not doing "what Libyan leaders did." 
On September 16, Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf said that the attack on the U.S. consulate was planned months in advance, and further stated that “[t]he 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.”
On September 21, about 30,000 Libyans marched through Benghazi calling for support of the rule of law and for an end to the armed militias that had formed during the Libyan civil war to oppose Colonel Gaddafi. After that war, the militias failed to disband, and continually menaced the Libyan government and populace. Carrying signs with slogans such as "We Want Justice For Chris" and "Libya Lost a Friend," the protestors stormed several militia headquarters, including that of Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamist militia who some allege played a role in the attack on U.S. diplomatic personnel on September 11. At least 10 people were killed and dozens more wounded as militiamen fired on demonstrators at the headquarters of Sahaty Brigade, a pro-government militia "operating under the authority of the ministry of defence."
By early next morning, the protestors had forced militia members to flee and seized control of a number of compounds, releasing four prisoners found inside. Protesters burnt a car and a building of at least one facility, and looted weapons. The militia compounds and many weapons were handed over to Libya's national army in what "appeared to be part of a coordinated sweep of militia bases by police, government troops and activists" following the earlier demonstrations. Some militia members accused the protestors of being Gaddafi loyalists, looking to disarm the militias in the wake of the revolution.
Government campaign to disband militias
On September 23, taking advantage of the growing momentum and rising anger against the militias evinced in the earlier anti-militia demonstrations, the Libyan president declared that all unauthorized militias had 48 hours to either disband or come under government control. The government also mandated that bearing arms in public was now illegal, as were armed checkpoints.
It has been noted that previously, handling the militias had been difficult as the government had been forced to rely on some of them for protection and security. However, according to a Libyan interviewed in Tripoli, the government gained the ability to push back against the militias because of a "mandate of the people."
On the 24th, the government commenced with a raid on a former military base held by a rogue infantry militia.
Across the country, militias began surrendering to the government. The government formed a "National Mobile Force" for the purpose of evicting illegal militias. On the same day as the declaration, various militias in Misrata held meetings, ultimately deciding to submit to the government's authority, and handed over various public facilities they had been holding, including the city's three main jails, which were handed over to the authority of the Ministry of Justice. Hours before the announcement, in Derna, the two main militias (one of them Ansar al-Sharia) active in the city both withdrew, leaving both their five military bases behind.
Hundreds of Libyans, mainly former rebel fighters, gathered in the city centers of Tripoli and Benghazi to hand over their weapons to the government on the 29th of September.
However, the campaign has been less successful in other areas, such as the remote Nafusa Mountains, inhabited by the Nafusi-speaking Berber minority, where the Emirati news agency The National reported on 23 September that arms were being hoarded. The National also reported arms being hoarded in Misrata, despite simultaneous reporting by other outlets that militias were surrendering in Misrata.
U.S. government response
On September 12, U.S. President Barack Obama condemned "this outrageous attack" on U.S. diplomatic facilities and stated that "[s]ince our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others." After referring to "the 9/11 attacks," "troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan", and "then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi" the President urged, "As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it." He then went on to say, "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. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done." Later Obama stated that he called the Benghazi an act of terrorism, which the Washington Post said is false.
After the attack, Obama ordered that security be increased at all such facilities worldwide. A 50-member Marine FAST team was sent to Libya to "bolster security." It was announced that the FBI would investigate the possibility of the attack being planned. U.S. officials said surveillance over Libya would increase, including the use of unmanned drones, to "hunt for the attackers."
Secretary of State Clinton also made a statement on September 12, describing the perpetrators as "heavily armed militants" and "a small and savage group – not the people or government of Libya." She also reaffirmed "America’s commitment to religious tolerance" and said "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," but whether true or not, that was not a justification for violence. The State Department had previously identified embassy and personnel security as a major challenge in its budget and priorities report.
On September 12, it was reported that the United States Navy dispatched two Arleigh Burke class destroyers, the USS McFaul and the USS Laboon, to the Libyan coast. The destroyers are equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles. American UAVs were also sent to fly over Libya to search for the perpetrators of the attack.
In a speech on September 13, in Golden, Colorado, President Obama paid tribute to the four Americans "killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Libya," stating, "We enjoy our security and our liberty because of the sacrifices they make...I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished. It will not dim the light of the values that we proudly present to the rest of the world."
In his press briefing on September 14, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that "we don't have and did not have concrete evidence to suggest that this [the Benghazi attack] was not in reaction to the film." He went on to say: "There was no intelligence that in any way could have been acted on to prevent these attacks. It is – I mean, I think the DNI spokesman was very declarative about this that the report is false. The report suggested that there was intelligence that was available prior to this that led us to believe that this facility would be attacked, and that is false... We have no information to suggest that it was a preplanned attack. The unrest we’ve seen around the region has been in reaction to a video that Muslims, many Muslims find offensive. And while the violence is reprehensible and unjustified, it is not a reaction to the 9/11 anniversary that we know of, or to U.S. policy."
On September 14 the remains of the slain Americans were returned to the U.S. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended the ceremony. In her remarks Clinton said, "One young woman, her head covered and her eyes haunted with sadness, held up a handwritten sign that said 'Thugs and killers don’t represent Benghazi nor Islam.' The President of the Palestinian Authority, who worked closely with Chris when he served in Jerusalem, sent me a letter remembering his energy and integrity, and deploring – and I quote – 'an act of ugly terror.'" She went on to say: "We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men."
On September 16, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice appeared on five major interview shows to discuss the attacks. Prior to her appearance, Rice was provided with "talking points" from a CIA memo, which stated:
The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations. This assessment may change as additional information is collected and analyzed and as currently available information continues to be evaluated. The investigation is ongoing, and the U.S. government is working with Libyan authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of U.S. citizens.
Using these talking points as a guide, Rice stated:
"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-- we do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.""I think it's clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself I think is one of the things we'll have to determine."
In a White House press briefing on September 18, press secretary Jay Carney explained the attack to reporters: "I’m saying that based on information that we – our initial information, and that includes all information – we saw no evidence to back up claims by others that this was a preplanned or premeditated attack; that we saw evidence that it was sparked by the reaction to this video. And that is what we know thus far based on the evidence, concrete evidence."
On September 20, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney answered a question about an open hearing with the National Counterterrorism Center Director, Matthew G. Olsen, which referenced which extremist groups might have been involved. Carney said, "It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Our embassy was attacked violently, and the result was four deaths of American officials. So, again, that’s self-evident." On the same day, during an appearance on Univision, a Spanish-language television network in the United States, President Obama stated, "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."
On September 25, in an address before the United Nations General Assembly President Obama stated, "The attacks on our civilians in Benghazi were attacks on America...And there should be no doubt that we will be relentless in tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice." He referred to "Innocence of Muslims" as "a crude and disgusting video [that] sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world." He said, "I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity." He further stated, "There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy."
On September 28, a spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence stated "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 . . . . 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."
On October 4, 22 days after the attack, FBI investigators were finally allowed access to the scene of the attack. The crime scene was not secured during that time; neither American nor Libyan investigators were able to secure the scene. The hearing testimony revealed that "Hicks argued that Rice's comments so insulted the Libyan president -- since they contradicted his Sept. 16 claims that the attack was premeditated -- that it slowed the FBI's investigation. 'President Magariaf was insulted in front of his own people, in front of the world. His credibility was reduced,' Hicks said, adding that the president was apparently 'still steamed' two weeks later." 
To assist the Libyan government in disbanding extremist groups, the Obama administration allocated $8 million to begin building an elite Libyan commando force over the next year.
In March, 2013, Representative Duncan D. Hunter introduced legislation into the 113th Congress to authorize awarding of Congressional Gold Medals to Doherty and Woods for their actions which led to their deaths.
Criticism of U.S. government response
Critics including Republican Party members accused the Obama White House and State Department of over-emphasizing or fabricating the role of Islamic anger over the anti-Islamic movie Innocence of Muslims and alleged that the administration was reluctant to label the attack as "terrorist". Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who on the 13th of September said that the attacks had all the hallmarks of a coordinated attack by al-Qaeda, has questioned whether there were any protests at all in Benghazi, saying: "I have seen no information that shows that there was a protest going on as you have seen around any other embassy at the time. It was clearly designed to be an attack." According to critics, the consulate site should have been secured better both before and after the attack.
September 20, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a classified briefing to U.S. Senators, which several Republican attendees criticized. According to the article, senators were angered at the Obama administration's rebuff of their attempts to learn details of the Benghazi attack, only to see that information published the next day in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
GOP legislators also took issue with delays in the investigation, which CNN attributed to "bureaucratic infighting" between the FBI, Justice, and State. On the 26th, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) said he "cannot believe that the FBI is not on the ground yet."
On CNN's State of the Union with Candy Crowley on September 30, Crowley observed that "Friday we got the administration's sort of definitive statement that this now looks as though it was a pre-planned attack by a terrorist group, some of whom were at least sympathetic to al Qaeda," and asked the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain, "why do you think and are you bothered that it has taken them this long from September 11th to now to get to this conclusion?" to which McCain replied that "it interferes with the depiction that the administration is trying to convey that al Qaeda is on the wane... how else could you trot out our U.N. ambassador to say this was a spontaneous demonstration?... It was either willful ignorance or abysmal intelligence to think that people come to spontaneous demonstrations with heavy weapons, mortars, and the attack goes on for hours."
On CBS's Face the Nation on October 28, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said "we know that there were tapes, recordings inside the consulate during this fight.... So the president went on various shows, despite what he said in the Rose Garden, about terrorist acts, he went on several programs, including The View including Letterman, including before the UN where he continued to refer, days later, many days later, to this as a spontaneous demonstration because of a hateful video. We know that is patently false. What did the president know? When did he know it? And what did he do about it?" However, CBS News reported earlier on October 24 that the video of the assault was recovered 20 days after the attack, from the more than 10 security cameras at the compound. On the same day, emails were released showing that the White House had received information that at least one terror organization was claiming responsibility for the attack in Benghazi.
In April, 2013, the Pentagon announced the activation of a USMC quick response force for North Africa which would use the range and speed of the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey to be able to respond to similar events in the future. Spain authorized the basing of the quick response force at Morón Air Base for a temporary one year term.
Former Secretary of Defense Gates has called criticisms of the government response "cartoonish", said that he would have responded with equal caution, and stated that American forces require planning and preparation which the circumstances did not allow for; and Obama called the criticism a "sideshow".
U.S. media response
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An unpublished study cited in a press release dated November 2 concluded that leading newspapers in the U.S. framed the attack in terms of a spontaneous protest (the Obama administration’s version) four times as often as a planned terrorist attack (the Republican version). The study was based on a computer-assisted analysis of 2,572 words and phrases related to the attack in 348 news stories from September 12 to October 12 in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. On the day of that study's release, two of the newspapers—The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal—published editorials critical of the Obama administration's handling of Benghazi. The Washington Post editorial asked such questions as, "Did the Obama administration’s political preoccupation with maintaining a light footprint in Libya lead to an ill-considered reliance on local militias, rather than on U.S. forces?" The Wall Street Journal editorial asked such questions as "Why did the U.S. not heed warnings about a growing Islamist presence in Benghazi and better protect the diplomatic mission and CIA annex?" and "Why has the Administration's story about what took place in Benghazi been so haphazard and unclear?"
On November 4, two days before the presidential election, CBS News released a portion of its interview with President Obama for 60 Minutes that was filmed on September 12 but did not air originally on its September 23 show. Journalist Bret Baier, host of Special Report with Bret Baier, noted that in these newly released portions of the interview "Obama would not say whether he thought the attack was terrorism. Yet he would later emphasize at a presidential debate that in the Rose Garden the same day, he had declared the attack an act of terror." Baier noted that President Obama had been saying that he declared the Benghazi attack a terrorist attack since his announcement in the Rose Garden on September 12 and highlighted the newly released video interview with Steve Kroft: "KROFT: Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism in connection with the Libya Attack, do you believe that this was a terrorism attack? OBAMA: Well it’s too early to tell exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans. And we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice, one way or the other."
Allegations of media bias
Some conservatives have argued that the mainstream media have ignored or played down the significance of the Benghazi story; and some have also pointed to an alleged liberal bias, claiming that, if a Republican were president, there would have been much more critical and aggressive reporting.
On September 13, liberal commentator Rachel Maddow, during her show on MSNBC, expressed skepticism that the attack was the spontaneous outgrowth of a protest against the video, stating: "NPR's Leila Fadel also spoke to a number of witnesses on the scene. People who were in the area that night. Here's what she reported a short time ago. She said, 'A lot of the witnesses we've spoken to, neighbors, the son of a landlord, a Libyan guard who was wounded in the first part of the attack on Tuesday night, all say there was no protest at all. They say it began and ended as an organized attack on the consulate.' An organized attack. Anybody who tells you that what happened to our ambassador and our consulate in Libya was as a result of a protest over an offensive movie, you should ask them why they think that." Maddow outlined a theory in her show of September 12 that the attack was a response to the killing of Abu Yahya al-Libi. However, MSNBC appears to have mostly dropped the story after the week of the attack.
On the last weekend of October a message posted on Facebook by a Political Action Committee (SOS PAC) claiming President Obama denied them backup in Benghazi was taken down twice by the social networking site. After the post was removed and SOS’s Facebook account suspended for 24 hours, the post was reinstated and SOS received an email from Facebook apologizing for the matter.
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer argued on Fox News' channel's Special Report with Bret Baier on October 24, “This is really a journalistic scandal. I mean, the fact there was not a word about any of this in the [New York] Times or the [Washington] Post today.” Krauthammer was referring to recently released emails that proved that the White House, contrary to its assertions, knew of terrorist connections to the attack almost immediately.
The National Review argued that, on October 28 (less than 2 weeks before the presidential election), of the five Sunday news shows, only Fox News treated it as a major story. It argued that on the other four news shows, the issue came up only when Republicans mentioned it. On NBC's Meet the Press, host David Gregory changed the subject when a guest tried to bring up the subject of the Benghazi attack, saying, "Let's get to Libya a little bit later." Gregory never did get back to Benghazi.
A November 2, 2012 article in The Huffington Post detailed how The Associated Press, The New York Times, and The Washington Post held back information about the attack at the request of the CIA and the Obama administration. The media organizations held back information at the government's request that the two former SEALs killed in the attack (Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty) were working for the CIA.
On November 26, 2012, journalist Tom Ricks went on Fox News' Happening Now with Jon Scott to discuss the attack. While being interviewed on Fox News by Jon Scott, Ricks accused Fox News of being "extremely political" in its coverage of the attack and said that "Fox was operating as a wing of the Republican Party." Ricks accused the network of covering the story more than it needed to be. The interview was cut short and Ricks and the interview was not mentioned or covered by Fox News again. Fox News was subsequently criticized for cutting the interview short. Jon Scott was also criticized by Media Matters for America for making no mention of the interview on Fox News Watch, a media analysis program he hosts. In an interview with the Associated Press, Fox News' White House correspondent Ed Henry suggested that he thought Benghazi was being covered too much by the network. Henry said, “We’ve had the proper emphasis, but I would not be so deluded to say that some of our shows, some of our commentators, have covered it more than it needed to be covered.”
Several official investigations have been completed, are ongoing, or are under consideration:
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (opened September 2012 - ongoing)
- Five House Committees (Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, Judiciary, and Oversight and Government Reform) initiated their own inquiries (opened October 2012 - ongoing)
- Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (October 2012 - report delivered December 31, 2012)
- State Department Accountability Review Board (opened October 4, 2012 - report delivered December 20, 2012)
- House Select Committee on the Terrorist Attack in Benghazi (proposed, in HR 36)
Investigative reporting has also discovered new information about the Obama administration's handling of the aftermath of the attack.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The FBI opened its investigation soon after the attack and it remains ongoing. No arrests have been made. On May 2, 2013, the FBI released photos of three men from the Benghazi attack site, asking for help from the public in identifying the individuals.
Five House Committees
Five House Committees (Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, Judiciary, and Oversight and Government Reform) initiated their own inquiries soon after the attack. The Republicans on these five House Committees delivered an interim report on April 23, 2013. The interim report was critical of the Obama Administration's actions before, during, and after the attack. Among dozens of findings, the report states that:
- "Senior State Department officials knew that the threat environment in Benghazi was high and that the Benghazi compound was vulnerable and unable to withstand an attack, yet the department continued to systematically withdraw security personnel"
- The "[Obama] Administration willfully perpetuated a deliberately misleading and incomplete narrative that the attacks evolved from a political demonstration caused by a YouTube video."
- "... after a White House Deputies Meeting on Saturday, September 15, 2012, the Administration altered the talking points to remove references to the likely participation of Islamic extremists in the attacks. The Administration also removed references to the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya...."
- "The Administration deflected responsibility by blaming the IC [intelligence community] for the information it communicated to the public in both the talking points and the subsequent narrative it perpetuated."
Additional congressional hearings were conducted May 8, 2013 with three "whistleblower" witnesses: Mark Thompson, acting deputy assistant Secretary of State for counterterrorism; Greg Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Libya; and Eric Nordstrom, former regional security officer in Libya.
State Department Accountability Review Board
As required by the Omnibus Diplomatic and Antiterrorism Act of 1986, the State Department announced on October 4, 2012 an Accountability Review Board "to examine the facts and circumstances of the attacks." Four members were selected by Clinton and another was selected by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper. Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering served as the Chairman, Admiral Michael Mullen served as the Vice Chairman, also serving were Catherine Bertini, Richard Shinnick, and Hugh Turner, who represented the intelligence community.
The investigation report was released December 20, 2012. It was seen as a sharp criticism of State Department officials in Washington for ignoring requests for more guards and safety upgrades, and for failing to adapt security procedures to a deteriorating security environment. "Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department ... resulted in a special mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place," said the unclassified version of the report. It also blamed too much reliance on local militias who failed to fend off the attackers that evening. The Council on Foreign Relations in an initial report saw it as a refutation to the notion that the Obama administration delayed its response. However, it confirmed that contrary to initial accounts, there was no protest outside the consulate. It placed responsibility for the incident solely upon the attackers, deemed as terrorists.
Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) and Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME) opened an investigation in mid October 2012. Their final report was delivered December 31, 2012. According to the report, "there was a high risk of a 'significant' terrorist attack on U.S. employees and facilities in Benghazi in the months before the September 11, 2012, assault on the Mission, and the State Department failed to take adequate steps to reduce the Mission’s vulnerability."
House Select Committee on the Terrorist Attack in Benghazi
On January 18, 2013, Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) introduced a bill (HR 36) to establish a select committee to investigate and report on the attack. As of May 9, 2013, the bill has nearly two-thirds support of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Also supporting the formation of a select committee are 700 special operations veterans and Special Operations OPSEC.
On May 3, 2013, Stephen Hayes reported in The Weekly Standard that new evidence showed "senior Obama administration officials knowingly misled the country about what had happened in the days following the assaults." Hayes reported that there was a flurry of revisions made to the talking points in the days before Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, appeared on five Sunday television talk shows. Included in the cuts were references to “Islamic extremists,” reminders of warnings about al Qaeda in Libya, a reference to “jihadists” in Cairo, the mention of possible surveillance of the facility in Benghazi, and the report of five previous attacks on foreign interests.
On May 10, 2013, ABC News' Jonathan Karl reported that it had "obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows." The changes made to the talking points, according to the report, appear to directly contradict what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said about them in November 2012. On the May 12 episode of ABC News This Week, Karl said that when then-CIA Director David Petraeus saw the final talking points the Saturday before Rice went on the Sunday talk shows he said they were "essentially useless." Karl went on to quote from an e-mail in which Petraeus said of the talking points: "I would just as soon not use them, but it’s their [the White House's] call."
- Ambassadors of the United States killed in office
- International response to the reactions to Innocence of Muslims
- Efforts to impeach Barack Obama
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