Difference between revisions of "2012 Benghazi attack overview"

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*{{bluedot}} Rep. [[Tammy Duckworth]] (D-IL)
*{{bluedot}} Rep. [[Tammy Duckworth]] (D-IL)
===Public opinion===
On June 3, 2014, a ''Washington Post-ABC News'' public opinion poll revealed that 51% of Americans supported a congressional investigation into the Benghazi attack, while 42% said the matter had been investigated enough. The same poll showed 50% thought Clinton handled the situation poorly while only 37% approved of her actions.<ref>[http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/benghazi-poll-51-percent-support-panel-hillary-clinton-107362.html ''Politico'', "Poll: 51 percent say probe Benghazi," June 3, 2014]</ref>
==Recent news==
==Recent news==

Revision as of 16:34, 5 June 2014

On September 11, 2012, the Islamic militant group, Ansar al-Sharia, attacked the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others were killed.[1]

Then-U.S. Ambassador to the U.N Susan Rice participated in a number of interviews following the attacks during President Barack Obama's presidential campaign. She labeled the attack a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video made by an American that was shown in the region.[2] The Obama administration acknowledged on September 19, 2012, that it was a premeditated terrorist attack.[3]


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Post-attack talking points timeline

The following is how events unfolded after the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi:[4]

  • September 11, 2012
  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated, "Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet," and declares there is never "justification for violent acts of this kind."[4]
  • September 12, 2012

President Obama's September 12, 2012 statement on the Benghazi attack.
  • President Obama said the attack was an "act of terror" during Rose Garden speech.[5] In a 60 Minutes interview that day, he stated it was "too early to know exactly how this came about."[4]
  • White House Press Secretary Jay Carney withheld judgement when asked if the attacks were believed to be premeditated.[6]
  • An unnamed U.S. official claimed the incident "bears the hallmarks of an organized attack."[7]
  • Ahmad Jibril, Libya's deputy ambassador to London, claimed Ansar al-Sharia was behind the attacks.[8]
  • September 13, 2012
  • The Libyan ambassador to the United States, Ali Suleiman Aujali, apologized at a State Department event for the "terrorist attack which took place against the American consulate in Libya."[4]
  • A senior State Department official stated, "It was not an innocent mob. The video or 9/11 made a handy excuse and could be fortuitous from their prospective but this was a clearly planned military-type attack."[9]
  • September 14, 2012
  • When asked about the reports of it being a pre-planned attack, Carney stated, "We were not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent."[10]
  • After a briefing with then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) said, "I think it was a planned, premeditated attack."[11]
  • September 16, 2012
  • When asked on Face the Nation, Libyan President Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf claimed, "It was planned-- definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who-- who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their-- since their arrival."[12]
  • Also on Face the Nation, Susan Rice disputed the claim made by the Magariaf, stating, "But based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that-- in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution."[12]

Susan Rice's interview on Face the Nation on September 16, 2012
Note: Rice revealed in late October 2012 that she was using talking points provided by the CIA.[13] On May 10, 2013, it was revealed that emails from the State Department urged changes to Rice's talking points prior to her going on the talk show circuit.[14] Then, on May 2, 2014, Judicial Watch released the State Department emails, which revealed one of the main goals of Rice's interview was "to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy."[15]
  • In a later interview with NPR, Magariaf responded, "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."[16]
  • September 17, 2012
  • State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland insisted "the comments that Ambassador Rice made accurately reflect our government's initial assessment."[17]
  • September 18, 2012
  • On The Late Show with David Letterman, President Obama commented on the anti-Muslim video, saying, "Extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the consulate in Libya."[18]
  • September 19, 2012
  • Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matt Olsen was the first of the administration to openly suggest it was a planned "terrorist attack," saying, "I would say yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy."[3]
  • September 20, 2012
  • Carney stated "what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack," but also mentioned that to that point the administration had no information that significant planning took place.[19]
  • September 21, 2012
  • Clinton stated, "what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack."[20]
  • September 24, 2012
  • Making an appearance on The View, President Obama was asked whether the attack was an act of terrorism. He responded, "Well, we're still doing an investigation."[21]
  • September 26, 2012
  • When asked why the president hadn't acknowledged the attack specifically as a "terrorist attack," Carney stated, "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."[22]
  • September 27, 2012
  • Defense Secretary Leon Panetta did not mention when a conclusion was reached but stated, "It took a while to really get some of the feedback from what exactly happened at that location. 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."[23]
  • A spokesperson for the director of national intelligence stated, "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."[24]
  • October 3, 2012
  • Clinton tells reporters "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."[25]
  • October 10, 2012
  • State Department Under Secretary for Management commented after testifying before the U.S. House, "We’ve always made clear from the very beginning that we are giving out the best information we have at the time we are giving it out. That information has evolved over time."[26]
  • State Department memos were released in which Charlene Lamb denied requests for increased security. Lamb testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform stating, "We had the correct number of assets in Benghazi on the night of 9/11."[27]
  • October 15, 2012
  • Clinton claimed, "I take responsibility." She followed by stating, "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."[28]
  • October 23, 2012
  • A Reuters report showed an email titled "Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack" was sent from the State Department's Operations Center about two hours after the attack.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag
  • Carney backed up Clinton's warning, claiming Ansar al-Sharia denied responsibility within hours of the attack, and that "Neither should be taken as fact — that’s why there’s an investigation underway."[29]

American presence in Benghazi

U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was one of the four Americans killed in the attack on September 11, 2012.
U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was sent to Benghazi as the Obama administration's liaison to the opposition to Gaddafi in March 2011, shortly after the uprisings began.[30] That was shortly after the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) began setting up their Benghazi covert intelligence operation in February 2011, in order to collect intelligence on Ansar al-Sharia and the Al Qaeda affiliate known as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The CIA also assisted in attempts to locate chemical weapons and train the new Libyan intelligence service.[31]

Regional instability

Militants began seriously organizing against former dictator Muammar Gaddafi in February 2011.[32] Gaddafi was forced from his compound in Tripoli in August 2011 by rebel militias, before being killed on October 20, 2011, by rebels while he was on the run outside of Sirte, Libya.[33] Following the death of Gaddafi, the militia's began fighting amongst themselves in some cases. Armed Ansar al-Shariah members in Benghazi traveled through the city calling for an Islamic state in mid-2012. To many Benghazi citizens, Ambassador Stevens was a well-liked figure and participant in public events.[34]

September 11, 2012

Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi meeting with Libyan officials in search of Gaddafi's weapons stockpiles and to open a cultural center.[35]

The attack started around 9:40 p.m. with gunshots and an explosion being heard. The militia overpowered the main gate and burned the barracks building. At about 10:00 p.m., the militia broke through the compound wall and the ambassador went to the safe room with information officer Sean Smith. The CIA annex, located approximately a mile away, was notified of the attack. While Stevens and Smith were in safe room, the building was set on fire using diesel fuel causing smoke to fill the building. The CIA agents and 16 Libyan security guards retake the compound and begin searching for Stevens and Smith.[35]

The first drones were sent over the site as President Obama begins to meet with the secretary of defense and the joint chiefs chairman. An email indicating the group Ansar al-Sharia claimed the attack was sent from the State Department to the White House.[35]

At about 1:15 a.m. on September 12, a rescue team from Tripoli arrived in Benghazi. Those rescued from the mission were at the CIA annex, including Stevens. Deputy Mission Chief Gregory Hicks notified Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Americans in Benghazi needed to be evacuated at 2:00 a.m. At about 4:00 a.m., the militants attack the CIA annex, killing Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. The bodies of Stevens, Smith, Doherty and Woods were on the final plane out of Libya at 10:00 a.m. September 12.[35]

Libyan reaction

Thousands of Libyans marched through Benghazi on September 21, 2012, in protest of the increasingly violent militias formed in opposition to Libya's former dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi, one of which was Ansar al-Sharia. The protesters captured the headquarters of multiple militia headquarters and handed them over to the Libyan army.[34]

U.S. reactions

Anti-Muslim video

The administration was non-committal on the what led to the attack on the U.S. embassy in the days following the attack, insisting that an investigation was underway. However, initial comments by the administration pointed to the release of an anti-Muslim video on Youtube which led to many demonstrations around the region.[4] During a talk show circuit, then-U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice claimed, "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."[12]

Rice insisted she gave responses based on the intelligence she had received to that point, even though the interviews were five days after the attacks.[36] Rice was a leading candidate to be nominated to succeed Hillary Clinton as U.S. Secretary of State, but it wasn't believed she would pass through confirmation due to her misrepresentation of the Benghazi attacks. She withdrew from consideration in December 2012.[37]

Pre-planned militant action

While early statements by the administration insisted that the attack could have been spontaneous due to the release of the anti-Muslim video, unnamed officials began coming out suggesting the attack was planned. The first to come out was on September 12, 2012, stating the attack "bears the hallmarks of an organized attack."[7]

The administration did not suggest it was a "terrorist attack" until September 19, 2012, with Matt Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center suggesting it was a planned attack.[3]

Security criticism

The State Department acknowledged on October 10, 2014, that recent requests for additional security at American facilities in Libya were denied. However, later that day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney claimed, "there is no question that the security was not enough to prevent that tragedy from happening."[38] Deputy assistant secretary of state Charlene Lamb claimed that, "we had the correct number of assets in Benghazi at the time of 9/11 for what had been agreed upon."[39] During a congressional oversight committee about the "Security Failures of Benghazi," Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) stated, "Washington officials seemed preoccupied with the concept of normalization," slamming the State Department's lack of action in response to the requests for increased security, instead suggesting the administration wanted to give the image of an improving relationship in the region. Democrats on the committee responded by pointing out that Republicans voted to cut funding to diplomatic security. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) insisted that Republican leadership needed to support an increase in diplomatic security to replace previous cuts.[38]

The handling of the Benghazi attacks discussed during the second Presidential Debate in 2012

2012 Presidential election

During the second presidential debate in 2012, Mitt Romney challenged President Obama about the attack, suggesting that it took the president 14 days to call it an "act of terror." Obama responded, saying, "Get the transcript." The moderator, Candy Crowley, then stepped in, saying the president indeed called the attack an "act of terror" the day after the attack. It was unclear whether the president used the phrase "acts of terror" the day following the attacks specifically referencing the Benghazi attack or in a more general sense since the administration continued to suggest that the attacks could have been a spontaneous result of the release of the anti-Muslim video.[40] Romney largely avoided the topic for the remainder of his presidential campaign.[41]

Charges filed

On August 7, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that charges were filed against several suspects in the attack. The only name made public was Ahmed Abu Khattala, a Libyan militia member. The announcement came following heavy pressure from Congress due to the lack of progress.[42]


Senate investigation

The investigation report released on January 15, 2014, by the Senate Intelligence committee suggested that the State Department failed to provide requested security increases as well as communicate within the intelligence community in order to know about the CIA annex located nearby the diplomatic facility.[43]

House investigation

Gowdy committee

On May 8, 2014, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was chosen to lead a special committee investigating the attack in Benghazi and the administration's actions regarding the attack. The committee was made up of seven republicans and five democrats.[44] When asked if the State Department would comply with the committee's requests, Kerry stated, "We’ll respond because we have absolutely nothing to hide whatsoever and I look forward to complying with whatever responsibilities we have."[45]

The twelve members named to the Gowdy committee were:[46][47]

Public opinion

On June 3, 2014, a Washington Post-ABC News public opinion poll revealed that 51% of Americans supported a congressional investigation into the Benghazi attack, while 42% said the matter had been investigated enough. The same poll showed 50% thought Clinton handled the situation poorly while only 37% approved of her actions.[48]

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term Benghazi + attack + 2012

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Benghazi Attack News Feed

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See also

External links


  1. CNN, "Benghazi Attack Timeline," August 7, 2013
  2. Wall Street Journal, "Flashback: What Susan Rice Said About Benghazi," November 16, 2012
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Foreign Policy, "Obama Official: Benghazi was a Terrorist Attack," September 19, 2012
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 FactCheck.org, "Benghazi Timeline," October 26, 2012
  5. The White House, "Remarks by the President on the Deaths of U.S. Embassy Staff in Libya," September 12, 2012
  6. The White House, "Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney en route Las Vegas, NV, 9/12/2012," September 12, 2012
  7. 7.0 7.1 Reuters, Obama vows to track down ambassador's killers," September 12, 2012
  8. BBC, "Did Ansar al-Sharia carry out Libya attack?," September 12, 2012
  9. CNN, "4 hours of fire and chaos: How the Benghazi attack unfolded," September 13, 2012
  10. The White House, "Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 9/14/2012," September 14, 2012
  11. Roll Call, "Senators Question Leon Panetta About Syria, Libya," September 14, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 CBS News, "Face the Nation transcripts, September 16, 2012," September 16, 2014
  13. New York Times, "After Benghazi Attack, Talk Lagged Behind Intelligence," October 21, 2012
  14. Huffington Post, "Benghazi Talking POints Revisions Pushed By State Department," May 10, 2013
  15. Judicial Watch, "FOIA requested documents," accessed May 22, 2014 Note: Page 14
  16. NPR, "Consulate Attack Preplanned, Libya's President Says," September 16, 2014
  17. U.S. Department of State, "Daily Press Briefing - September 17, 2012," September 17, 2012
  18. Washington Post, "President Obama's interview on the 'Late Show with David Letterman'," September 19, 2012
  19. The White House, "Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney en route Miami, FL, 9/20/2012," September 20, 2012
  20. Fox News, "Sec. Clinton: 'What Happened in Benghazi Was a Terrorist Attack," September 21, 2012
  21. USA Today, "Team Romney: Obama fails to call Libya incident terror," September 26, 2012
  22. The White House, "Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney Aboard Air Force One en route Ohio, 09/26/2012," September 26, 2012
  23. U.S. Department of Defense, "DOD News Briefing with Secretary Panetta and Gen. Dempsey from the Pentagon," September 27, 2012
  24. 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," September 28, 2012
  25. CBS News, "Clinton: No rest until we find Libya attackers," October 3, 2012
  26. U.S. Department of State, "On-The-Record Briefing by Under Secretary Kennedy," October 10, 2012
  27. Foreign Policy, "Lamb to the slaughter," October 10, 2012
  28. CNN, "Clinton: I'm responsible for diplomats' security," October 16, 2012
  29. The White House, "Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney en route Davenport, Iowa, 10/24/2012," October 24, 2012
  30. ABC News, "US Names Chris Stevens Liaison to Libyan Opposition," March 14, 2011
  31. New York Times, "Deadly Attack in Libya Was Major Blow to C.I.A. Efforts," September 23, 2012
  32. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named NYTlibyanprostesters
  33. Washington Post, "Moammar Gaddafi is captured, killed as last loyalist holdout in Libya falls," October 20, 2011
  34. 34.0 34.1 New York Times, "Angry Libyans Target Militias, Forcing Flight," September 21, 2012
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 CNN, "Benghazi attack timeline," August 7, 2013
  36. The Atlantic, "Susan Rice Blames Bad Benghazi Intelligence for Her Misleading Version of Events," October 16, 2012
  37. CNN, "Susan Rice withdraws from consideration as secretary of state," December 13, 2013
  38. 38.0 38.1 Washington Post, "State Dept. acknowledges rejecting requests for more security in Benghazi," October 10, 2012
  39. CNS News, "State Dept. Security Chief: ‘We Had Correct Number of Assets in Benghazi at Time of 9/11 For What Had Been Agreed Upon’," October 10, 2012
  40. Huffington Post, "Mitt Romney Benghazi Exchange Allows Obama To Dodge Questions Until Third Debate," October 17, 2012
  41. Time, "Why Romney’s Not Talking About Benghazi Anymore," November 2, 2012
  42. CNN, "First criminal charges filed in Benghazi attack probe," August 7, 2013
  43. The Washington Post, "Senate report: Attacks on U.S. compounds in Benghazi could have been prevented," January 15, 2014
  44. Roll Call, "Republicans’ Benghazi Panel Appointments Likely Friday," May 8, 2014
  45. Politico, "John Kerry: I’ll comply with House GOP’s Benghazi request," May 6, 2014
  46. The Washington Post, "Democrats appoint 5 members to Benghazi select committee," May 21, 2014
  47. Talking Points Memo, "These 7 Republicans Will Serve On The Benghazi Select Committee," May 9, 2014
  48. Politico, "Poll: 51 percent say probe Benghazi," June 3, 2014