As the ever-shifting timeline of events in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 finally begins to catch the attention of the mainstream media, anonymous U.S. intelligence officials have spoken out today to either clarify or further confuse, claiming that CIA security officers rushed to the assistance of American diplomats within 25 minutes of the first call for help and at no point were told to stand down.
A report published earlier today by Eli Lake quoted a senior U.S. Defense official as saying, “There was no request from the Department of State to intervene militarily on the night of the attack.” One week ago, a CIA spokesperson denied reports that CIA operatives were repeatedly given orders to “stand down” after hearing shots fired at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, insisting that “no one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate.”
U.S. officials said they decided to offer a detailed account of the CIA’s role, however, to rebut media reports that have suggested that agency leaders delayed sending help to State Department officials seeking to fend off a heavily armed mob.
Instead, U.S. intelligence officials insisted that CIA operatives in Benghazi and Tripoli made decisions rapidly throughout the assault with no interference from Washington, even while acknowledging that CIA security forces were badly outmatched and largely unable to mobilize Libyan security teams until it was too late.
The Post’s David Ignatius, an opinion writer, also includes a revised timeline based on this new information. The first call for help from the consulate was made at 9:40 p.m., and according to the unnamed senior intelligence official, a six-person rescue squad, including Tyrone Woods, was dispatched at 10:04 p.m. Ignatius concludes that there were “CIA errors but no evidence of conspiracy.”
Why so many questions, people? Are you suspicious just because the president was still peddling the “blame the video” line a week later on David Letterman’s show? You should be satisfied. Reporters for NBC and the New York Times like what they see, after all.