Saturday, October 20, 2012
TIMELINE OF ADMINISTRATION'S SHIFTING POSITION ON DEADLY ATTACK
In the weeks before Sept. 11, Libyan security guards are reportedly warned by family members of an impending attack. On Sept. 8, the Libyan militia tasked with protecting the consulate warns U.S. diplomats that the security situation is "frightening."
April 5, 2011: Special envoy Christopher Stevens arrives in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi to forge ties with the forces battling Moammar Gadhafi.
February: The U.S. embassy requests — and is granted — a four-month extension, until August, of a Tripoli-based “site security team” composed of 16 special forces soldiers who provide security, medical and communications support to the embassy.
March: State Department Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom sends a cable to Washington asking for additional diplomatic security agents for Benghazi, later says he received no response. He does so again in July, with the same result.
April 6: Two fired Libyan security guards throw an IED over the consulate fence.
April 11: Gun battle erupts between armed groups two-and-a-half miles from the U.S. Consulate, including rocket-propelled grenades.
April 27: Two South African contractors are kidnapped by armed men, released unharmed.
May 1: Deputy Commander of U.S. Embassy Tripoli’s Local Guard Force is carjacked, beaten, and detained by armed youth. British Embassy in Tripoli is attacked by a violent mob and set on fire. Other NATO embassies attacked as well.
May 3: The State Department declines a request from personnel concerned about security at the U.S. Embassy in Libya for a DC-3 plane to take them around the country.
May 22: President Obama appoints Christopher Stevens as ambassador to Libya on May 22. An Islamist attack on the Red Cross office in Benghazi is followed by a Facebook post that warns "now we are preparing a message for the Americans." Another Facebook posting a month later highlights Stevens' daily runs in Tripoli in an apparent threat.
June 6: Unknown assailants blow a hole in the consulate's north gate described by a witness as "big enough for 40 men to go through." Four days later, the British ambassador's car is ambushed by militants with a rocket-propelled grenade.
June 10: A car carrying the British ambassador is attacked in Tripoli. Two bodyguards injured.
Late June: The building of the International Red Cross attacked again and closed down, leaving the U.S. flag as the only international one still flying in Benghazi, an obvious target.
July: Anti-Islam video "Innocence of Muslims" posted on You Tube.
August 6: Armed assailants carjack a vehicle with diplomatic plates operated by U.S. personnel.
Aug. 14: SST team leaves Libya. Team leader Lt. Col. Andy Wood has testified that Stevens wanted them to stay on.
Sept. 8: A local security officer in Benghazi warns American officials about deteriorating security.
Sept. 10: Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri calls on Libyans to avenge the death of his Libyan deputy, Abu Yahya al Libi, killed in a June drone strike in Pakistan. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens arrives in Benghazi and holds meetings on and off the consulate grounds on Sept. 10. He spends the night, and for the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks plans to hold meetings inside the compound only. It is an enclosed area about 300 yards long by 100 yards wide, with a 9-foot outer wall topped by barbed wire and augmented by barriers, steel drop bars and other security upgrades. There are four buildings in the compound. Five diplomatic security officers are present, along with four members of a local militia deployed by Libya's government to provide added security.
Sept. 11: Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others are killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Protesters converge on the U.S. embassy in Cairo, scale its walls and replace the U.S. flag with the Islamist banner. The protests eventually spread to 20 countries around the world. That night, Republican candidate Mitt Romney criticizes an embassy statement denouncing the video before the events unfolding in Libya are known to the world. Late that night, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says in a statement that "some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet."
Sept. 12: Barack Obama makes a statement saying, 'No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation,' but does not explicitly label the raid a terrorist attack. Media outlets report that Stevens and three other Americans have been killed in an attack by well-armed militants. Obama denounces an "outrageous and shocking attack" without mentioning the video or terrorism. Reuters reports for the first time that some administration officials believe the assault "bears the hallmarks of an organized attack." Secretary Clinton and President Obama issue statements condemning both the video and the attacks. U.S. intelligence agencies have enough evidence to conclude a terrorist attack was involved.
Romney accuses the administration of showing weakness in the face of the attack, prompting the president to say his rival "seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later."
The CIA station chief in Libya reports to Washington within 24 hours of the attack that there was evidence it was carried out by militants, not a spontaneous mob upset about the anti-Islam video.
Sept. 13: White House press secretary Jay Carney blames the assault on a U.S.-made YouTube video mocking the Prophet Muhammad. White House spokesman Jay Carney says "the protests we're seeing around the region are in reaction to this movie."
Sept. 14: Carney says the administration had "no actionable intelligence" about a pending attack. Jay Carney says "the protests we're seeing around the region are in reaction to this movie." The bodies of slain Americans return to Andrews Air Force Base. President Obama again blames the YouTube video.
Sept. 16: Susan Rice, American ambassador to the UN, says she believes the attack 'began as a spontaneous, not premeditated, response' to protests over the video. Susan Rice does the rounds on the Sunday talk shows and says the video is the "proximate cause" of the assault in Benghazi. "Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous - not a premeditated - response to what had transpired in Cairo," Rice tells ABC. That same day, interim Libyan president Mohamed Magarief insists on CBS that "it was planned, definitely."
Sept. 17: State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland refuses to call attacks an act of terror.
Sept. 18: President Obama on The Late Show with David Letterman. Obama:" Well, here’s what happened. You had a video that was released by somebody who lives here, sort of a shadowy character who is– it’s an extremely offensive video directed at Mohammed and Islam."
Sept. 19: National Counterterrorism Center director Matthew Olsen testifies before the Senate Homeland Security Committee that the assault was a "terrorist attack" but goes on to call it an "opportunistic" attack in which armed militants took advantage of an ongoing protest. CNN reports having found Ambassador Stevens’s diary, which indicates concern about security threats in Benghazi.
Sept. 20: Carney says, 'It is self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.' CBS reports that witnesses in Benghazi say there was no protest prior to the armed assault against the consulate. Magarief tells NBC the same thing on Sept. 26. Also on Sept. 20, Obama at a town hall meeting says: "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." Obama refuses to call attack terrorism, citing insufficient information. Carney declares it "self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack." Clinton, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter brief members of Congress. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) calls it "the most useless worthless briefing I have attended in a long time."
Sept. 21: Secretary of State Clinton, at meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister, says, “What happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack”, highest official until then to say so.
Sept. 25: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “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.”Obama declines to label the attack as terrorism during an appearance on The View. In his address to the U.N. General Assembly, Obama doesn't mention terrorism but makes repeated references to the video. Asked about Clinton's statement on ABC's "The View" show, the president skirts the issue by saying: "We're still doing an investigation," blames "extremist militias."
Sept. 26: Libya’s Magarief on the “Today” show says, “It was a preplanned act of terrorism directed against American citizens.” Published reports show U.S. Intel agencies and the Obama Administration knew within 24 hours that al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist were involved. Jay Carney during a press gaggle on Air Force One
“It is certainly the case that it is our view as an administration, the President’s view, that it was a terrorist attack.”
Sept. 27: Innocence of Muslims filmmaker Mark Basseley Youseff (aka Nakoula Basseley Nakoula) is arrested and denied bail on the charges of “probation violation.” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says it’s “clear that there were terrorists who planned that attack.”
Sept. 28: Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, Jr., issues a statement backing the Obama Administration’s changing story about the Libyan attack. Says facts are evolving. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence takes responsibility for linking the Benghazi attack to the video. In a statement, spokeswoman Shawn Turner says that initially “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.”
Oct. 1: State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says Clinton stands by Rice after House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Pete King (R-N.Y.) calls for her resignation.
Oct. 2: Carney declines to comment on reported requests from diplomats in Libya for additional security, citing the State Department’s internal investigation.
Oct. 3: FBI investigators finally arrive at the crime scene in Benghazi, which has been unsecured for weeks.
Oct. 6: In a letter to Senate Republicans demanding an explanation for the shifting rhetoric, Rice lays the blame on the intelligence community, says she “relied solely and squarely on the information the intelligence community provided to me and other senior U.S. officials.”
Oct. 9: State Department officials insist they never linked the attack to the video protests. Senior State Department officials for the first time acknowledge that there was never any protest in Benghazi during a background call with reporters. They say linking the attack to the video was “not our conclusion,” suggesting they’re blaming intelligence officials.
Oct. 10: Lt. Col. Andy Wood and Eric Nordstrom testify at a House oversight committee hearing on security lapses in Libya. They say their requests for more security were denied by their superiors in Washington, testimony confirmed by cables made public by chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
Oct. 11: During the vice presidential debate, Biden says, “We weren’t told they wanted more security there.” He also denies responsibility for the administration’s shifting explanation: “The intelligence community told us that. As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment.”
Oct. 12: After Republicans pounce, the White House says Biden was speaking for himself and the president because such decisions are made by the State Department.
Oct. 15: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an Interview on Fox
“Everyone had the same intelligence. But I’ve been around long enough to know that it takes time to assess all the information that you have. And as the intelligence community has now said, their assessment over the last now more than a month changed, but everyone in the Administration was trying to give information to the best of their ability at the time, with the caveat that more was likely to be learned and that there would be most likely changes.
So the fog of war, the confusion that you get in any kind of combat situation — and remember, this was an attack that went on for hours. Our post was overrun by a significant number of armed men. Our annex was attacked. There had to be a lot of sorting out.”
Oct. 16: Libya becomes a major issue in the second presidential debate. It's the first time Obama uses the exact phrase "terrorist attack." The president says that the day after the attack, "I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we're going to hunt down those who committed this crime." Romney countered, "I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror."
Candy Crowley admitted that Mitt Romney was RIGHT to criticise Barack Obama for his response to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi just hours after she apparently sided with Obama at a crucial point in the high drama presidential debate on Tuesday night. President Obama at the second presidential debate in Hempstead, N.Y. “Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job. But she works for me. I’m the president. And I’m always responsible. And that’s why nobody is more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I am.
Oct. 17: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., says, "But first of all, responsibility for American security doesn't lie with the secretary of state. It lies with the president of the United States. It's either willful deception or a degree of incompetence and failure to understand fundamental facts on the ground."
Oct. 18: The president says on "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, "If four Americans get killed, it's not optimal.... We're going to fix it."
Oct. 19: House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Friday released 166 pages of unclassified State Department communications regarding Libya. But hidden in the scores of documents were the unretracted names of several Libyans working with the U.S. government.
The AP reveals that the CIA's Libya station chief sent a report within 24 hours of the attack that there was evidence that militants were behind the assault, rather than a mob upset about the anti-Islamic video.
Oct. 20: The Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Buck McKeon, sent a yes/no questionnaire to commanders in our military to find out if they gave any advice or warning to the State Department over security in Benghazi. Though he gave them 24 hours to respond, the DOD responded by saying they wouldn’t be able to comply. McKeon says this is the first time he’s ever seen the Secretary of Defense prohibit uniformed military from responding to a congressional inquiry and it flies in the face of the president’s claim that he is getting the information out to the American people as it comes in.