On September 11, 2012, U.S. diplomatic and intelligence facilities in Benghazi, Libya were attacked resulting in the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Prior to the attack the region was subject to massive protests, which spread to more than fifteen countries, over an American produced anti-Islamic video.
President Obama met with Defense Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey at the onset of the attacks and ordered U.S. military forces to be deployed as quickly as possible.
- Leon Panetta Benghazi Testimony
“…his (Obama’s) staff was engaged with the national military command center pretty constantly through the period, which is the way it would normally work.”
- General Dempsey
There was no stand down order.
“There was no “stand down” order issued to U.S. military personnel in Tripoli who sought to join the fight in Benghazi.
However, because official reviews after the attack were not sufficiently comprehensive, there was confusion about the roles and responsibilities of these individuals.”
House Armed Services report
The Senate Intelligence report and House Armed Services report found no fault with the administration’s military response to the attack. They did site a lack of additional staged security for the 9-11 anniversary and other security failures prior to the attacks.
Senate IC report
The Senate report states that there is no evidence of significant preplanning of the attack and that it was mostly “Opportunist”
The attack was perpetrated primarily by members of the militant group Ansar al-Shariah, a loose Al Qaeda affiliate in North Africa. The report found no clear evidence of direct Al Qaeda involvement in the attack.
“It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attacks or whether extremist group leaders directed their members to participate,” the report said. “Some intelligence suggests the attacks were likely put together in short order, following that day’s violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video.”
-Senate IC report
Independent investigations have also concluded that the attack was at least partially motivated by the anti-Islamic video and the violent demonstrations in the region.
- Benghazi Attack Called Avoidable in Senate Report - NY Times
Talking points issued by the CIA show that the Administration did not originate the Protest/Video assessment. The original draft was written by CIA Director of Intelligence Analysis, Friday September 14, 2012.
• We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US Consulate and subsequently its annex.
The final, unclassified version of the CIA talking points, as provided on September 15, 2012, read as follows:
-The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US 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 as currently available information continues to be evaluated.
-The investigation is ongoing and the US Government is working With Libyan authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of US citizens.
Senate IC Report