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1516 GMT 12 September 2012: Obama said at the White House. “No acts of terror will shake the resolve of this great nation.”
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There has been a lot of confusion and misinformation about what has come to be called the "attack on the American embassy in Libya" in which Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other US citizens were killed, so I thought it would be helpful to lay out a timeline and some of what we know about what happened in Benghazi on the night of 11 September ahead of tonight's debate.

I have a feeling that it might come up.

So to begin with, there was no attack on the embassy, which is in Tripoli, the capital of Libya, the attack took place at the US consulate in Benghazi. This is why security was not what it would have been at the embassy.

Furthermore, it has been reported that the Ambassador's trip to Benghazi was suppose to be a secret one. They were relying on that secrecy as their first line of defense and the breakdown was in the killer's ability to pierce that secrecy. That was the flaw that allowed them to kill the ambassador.

According to Nihal Zaroug and Maha Ellawati writing in the Libya Herald on 14 September 2012 and based on statements made by Speaker of the General National Congress (GNC) Mohamed Magarief:

Stevens was in Benghazi for a 10 a.m. meeting on Wednesday with AGOCO, an oil company. His visit was supposed to be secret, but it is being reported that the details of his visit were passed on to the extremists. Sensitive documents are said to be missing from the representative office.

The perpetrators were coordinated, it is claimed, and came fully armed, with the clashes outside the mission lasting several hours.

Secrecy of movement is an indispensable security tool when it comes to protecting anybody. Unfortunately, trips can't always been planned with a high level of secrecy, such as when a VIP is going to make a public appearance; but in cases where a dangerous excursion can be kept secret, it probably should be.

The problem, to speak in terms of this case, is that there then is a natural contradiction between keeping the excursion to the consulate in Benghazi secret, and the amount of security that can be added to protect the Ambassador. If they were to dramatically ramp up security whenever the Ambassador made a trip to Benghazi, they might as well go all the way and hang up the banner "Welcome Ambassador Chris Steven."

Those that would argue that security at the consulate should have always been at a much higher level had better not had anything to do with cutting the budget for that service.

While hindsight is always 20/20, and this makes it easy to look back and say that there should have been more muscle available at the instant. It is still unclear how much firepower would have had to be on hand to thwart a determined planned attack by the forces out to get Chris Stevens and the US in Libya. The attacker's main advantage was that they knew the Ambassador was in town and they apparently also knew where the backup location was. I believe the prime failure here was one of intelligence or rather counter-intelligence.

I'm sure Chris Stevens, as one who had worked in Libya during the civil war, saw the value of traveling in secret with a very small security detail. His methods had served to keep him alive through an ironically much more dangerous period in Libya, but no plan is perfect and even your enemy can catch a break.

I consider the Libyan Revolution to be the first conflict since World War 2 in which the US has fought on the side of the people. Chris Stevens knew he was taking a dangerous assignment when he started representing the US in the struggle of the Libyan people against the Qaddafi dictatorship. We can all be proud of the help he provided to the Libyan people in the name of our country and proud of the achievements of the Libyan Revolution to date.

I think President Obama can also proudly point to what the anti-interventions dubbed the "US War on Libya" as one of the most important victories of his foreign policy.

Whatever his motives, he deployed US firepower on the right side of history for a change. The US got in and got out without ever setting a boot on the ground and we helped the Libyan people defeat a dictator in short order and avoid the kind of "death from above" we now see in Syria everyday. Even if the four Americans murdered in Benghazi are counted as the only US casualties of that conflict, it would seem a small price, in human costs, for the benefit it brought to the Libyan people.

Below the fold is the timeline of Benghazi events on this nine-eleven.    

The Libya Herald has cataloged the building counter-revolutionary violence in Benghazi, particularly against diplomats prior to the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens:

Attacks on foreign missions burst into life in Benghazi in April when a bomb was thrown at a UN convoy.  In May, a rocket hit the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross and on 6 June a bomb exploded outside the US consulate.

Then on 11 June, a rocket struck a vehicle in the convoy of Britain’s Libya ambassador, Sir Dominic Asquith, wounding two security officers, outside the UK consulate.

The UK closed its consulate soon afterwards.  On 18 June, gunmen stormed the Tunisian consulate and burned the flag in protest against an art exhibition that had opened in Tunis. In August, the ICRC announced that, after five attacks on its offices in Libya, it was closing bureaus in Benghazi and Misrata.

Throughout the same period Benghazi also saw 14 assassinations of former Qaddafi-era officials.

Counter revolutionary violence was still very much of a problem, particularly in Benghazi in the months leading up to this attack.
Timeline of Events

EA WorldView reports on events in Libya on an hourly basis. So we can now arrange their reports in reverse order to answer the question: What did the world know and when did we know it? about these tragic events in Benghazi.

Libyan President Mohamed al-Magarief on the consulate attack | 14 Sept 2012

EAWorldView first reported on attack on the US Consulate at 0550 GMT on 12 September 2012:

0550 GMT: An American employee of the US Consultate in Libya's second city Benghazi has been killed amid protests over an amateur film about the Prophet Mohammad.

An armed crowd set fire to the building, following similar demonstrations at the US Embassy in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

Libyan officials said "a number" of US staff were injured, as rocket-propelled grenades were fired at the building from a nearby farm. They said there were "fierce clashes between the Libyan army and an armed militia".

Three and a half hours later EAWorldview's next report said:
0923 GMT: Both Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya are reporting that the US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was the American staff member killed at the US Consulate in Benghazi during overnight protests about an amateur film on the Prophet Mohammad.

Al Jazeera English is reporting from a local journalist that four people were killed and two were wounded in the incident. Stevens reportedly suffocated in a fire after the Consulate was struck, possibly by rocket-propelled grenades.

Morgue video, Ambassador Chris Steven and others | Uploaded 12 Sept 2012

By most reports there were actually two attacks, one at the consulate and one that attacked the safe-house or the convoy to the safe-house. Al Jazeera quoted Quilliam, a British think tank the day after the attack:

the assault came in two apparently calculated waves, the second of which targeted the Americans after they had fled the consulate for a safe house.
Less than eight hours after their first report on the attack, EAWorldView was reporting that a US security team had been sent to evacuate Ambassador Stevens and the other US citizens from the safe-house. Unfortunately this was too late:
1437 GMT: Libyan officials have given further details of the Benghazi attacks which both add to and further confuse the narrative of how US Ambassador Chris Stevens, three other Americans, and an unknown number of Libyans died:

Deputy Minister of Interior minister Wanis al-Sharif said the two US security guards slain were in a safe house after the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi. He added that a plane "with US security units" had arrived from Tripoli to evacuate staff, but militants discovered the location.

"It was supposed to be a secret place and we were surprised the armed groups knew about it. There was shooting," al-Sharif said. He added that two other oleo were killed and 12 to 17 wounded.

It is not clear from a summary of al-Sharif's account if the two dead guards were part of the Consulate staff, the detail around US Ambassador Chris Stevens as he visited Benghazi, or the security units from Tripoli.

Nor was it clear how the safe house story fit with the incident in which Stevens was killed. Different accounts have said that Stevens died in the Consulate from smoke inhalation or in a rocket attack on his car, presumably as he was being taken to the safe house.

Minutes later they reported the Marines were coming, probably the same rescue team that now had nobody to rescue.
1458 GMT: US officials say about 50 Marines are being sent to Libya to reinforce security at American diplomatic facilities.

The Marines are members of the Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team, whose role is to respond on short notice to terrorism threats and to reinforce security at US embassies around the world.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press has a curious note from the doctor who says that he tried for 90 minutes to revive US Ambassador Chris Stevens, who died of severe asphyxiation from smoke inhalation.

That fits with earlier accounts, but this comment does not: "Stevens was brought to the Benghazi Medical Center by Libyans...with no other Americans and...initially no one realized he was the ambassador."

Where was the rest of Stevens' entourage? Was he taken by Libyans from the scene of an attack on his car, leaving other occupants behind?

Less than ten hours after the initial attack on the consulate was reported, President Obama spoke to the world about the attack. His remarks were necessarily limited by what was known at the time:
1516 GMT: President Obama's statement on the "outrageous and shocking attack" that killed four Americans. Rejecting all efforts to denigrate religions, he called for an unequivocal rejection of the violence and emphasised that Libyans fought along US personnel during the assault and that Libyans took US Ambassador Stevens to the hospital.

Obama declared, "As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people that are wiling to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases lay down their lives for it,” Obama said at the White House. “No acts of terror will shake the resolve of this great nation.”

Given the "Fog of War" that surrounded these events in the initial hours is this surprising?:
The White House has said that the intelligence community initially believed that the film had played a role.
Just about all the early reports linked the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi with the protests against the anti-Islam film taking place at the same time in Cairo and many other Muslim cities.

I think it no accident that it took place at the same time. I believe the attack was conducted under cover of those protests and that they may have even feigned such a protest as a means to approach the consulate.

The description of the attack in the Libya Herald seems to bear this out:

Witnesses agree that the attack on the compound began shortly after 21:30 on 11 September.

Attackers massed at the twin front gates, along a narrow unmade road, and by the twin rear gates, which leads onto the main highway.  There were many spectators, as the rear gates are across the street from the fashionable Venezia restaurant.  If there was a protest, as Washington at first claimed, then it was by the attackers themselves.

The Libya Herald goes on to describe the attack in great detail:
Grenades were thrown over the front wall. Shortly afterwards, an unarmed Libyan consulate guard opened one of the back gates. The group of eight to twelve gunmen standing there shouted at him to get back inside. Shortly afterwards they opened fire at the gate, which has 22 bullet holes. Another five bullet holes show fire being returned from inside.

Seven or eight Americans in the compound bundled themselves into an armoured jeep which drove out, sustaining fire, and made it to the annex, an accommodation compound a mile away by road. Left behind in the villa was ambassador Stevens who had locked himself in the Safe Room.

The biggest mystery for anyone touring the compound is the absence of battle damage. The buildings are charred, along with three embassy pickup trucks, from arson, but there are few bullet strikes. If the attackers entered before the staff had fled, it seems there was no exchange of fire.

A rocket propelled grenade was fired at the double doors of the villa, missing and striking the lintel above. Apparently the shock was enough to force open the doors. But it is unclear if an attempt was made to break into the Safe Room, or if the attackers even knew it was there.

Younis Qaddaffi said his units turned up at the villa but insists he was not told that the ambassador was missing. By then large crowds of the curious had turned up and he decided to leave the scene.

It was those crowds that found Ambassador Stevens, either dead or dying from smoke inhalation, shortly after midnight. Benghazi Medical Centre records him arriving, dead, by private car along with an injured guard around 01:00.

By this time a team of eight U.S. officials, some armed, had been despatched by helicopter from Tripoli. They arrived at 01:30. and went to the annex building.

Then, sometime in the early hours, mortar rounds slammed into the roof of the annex, killing two former navy Seals, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

According to the two landlords, the annex was not, as some reports claim, a Safe House, being neither secure nor secret. It was where most of Benghazi’s US diplomats lived.

Also killed that night from smoke inhalation was Sean Smith, a foreign service information officer, though again the circumstances of his death have yet to be fully explained.

News Reports from around the world | 12 September 2012

The US State Department released this very detailed blow-by-blow of the compound in Benghazi in a telephone conference call on 6 October 2012:

So let me set the stage. On April 5th, 2011, a small Department of State team headed by Chris Stevens arrives by chartered boat in Benghazi. They set up shop in a hotel. This is at a time when Benghazi was liberated, Qadhafi was still in power in Tripoli, the war was going on, our Ambassador had been expelled from Tripoli by Qadhafi, the Embassy staff had been evacuated because it was unsafe. So Chris Stevens coming back into Benghazi – coming into Benghazi on April 5th, 2011, is the only U.S. Government people in Libya at this time.

They set up shop in a hotel, as I mentioned. A few weeks later in June, a bomb explodes in the parking lot in front of the hotel. The group in Benghazi makes a decision to move to a new location. They move to a couple of places, and by August they settle on a large compound which is where the actual activity on 9/11 took place. So they’re in a large compound, where they remain.

The compound is roughly 300 yards long – that’s three football fields long – and a hundred yards wide. We need that much room to provide the best possible setback against car bombs. Over the next few months, physical security at the compound is strengthened. The outer wall is upgraded, its height is increased to nine feet.It is topped by three feet of barbed wire and concertina wire all around the huge property. External lighting is increased. Jersey barriers, which are big concrete blocks, are installed outside and inside the gate. Steel drop bars are added at the gates to control vehicle access and to provide some anti-ram protection. The buildings on the compound itself were strengthened.

The compound has four buildings on it, and you guys are going to have to get used to this, because I refer them to – as Building C, Building B, Tactical Operations Center, and a barracks. So Building C is a building that is essentially a large residence. It has numerous bedrooms and it is – it has a safe haven installed in it, and I’ll talk more about that in a minute. Building C ultimately is the building that the Ambassador was in, so keep that in your heads.

Building B is another residence on the compound. It has bedrooms and it has a cantina. That’s where the folks dine. The Tactical Operations Center, which is just across the way from Building B, has offices and a bedroom. That’s where the security officers had their main setup, that’s where the security cameras are, a lot of the phones – it’s basically their operations center. So I’ll call it the TOC from now on.

And then there was a barracks. The barracks is a small house by the front gate, the main gate of the compound. In that barracks is a Libyan security force which I’ll describe in a minute. Security on the compound consists of five Diplomatic Security special agents and four members of the Libyan Government security force, which I will henceforth call the 17th February Brigade. It is a militia, a friendly militia, which has basically been deputized by the Libyan Government to serve as our security, our host government security. In addition to all those, there is an additional security force at another U.S. compound two kilometers away. It serves as a rapid reaction force, a quick reaction security team – a quick reaction security team, okay?

Now we’re on the day of, and before I go into this discussion of the day of the events of 9/11, I’m going to be – I want to be clear to you all. I am giving you this – you my best shot on this one. I am giving you what I know. I am giving it to you in as much granularity as I possibly can. This is still, however, under investigation. There are other facts to be known, but I think I’m going to be able to give you quite a lot, as far as I know it. I have talked to the – to almost all the agents that were involved, as well as other people.

Okay. The Ambassador has arrived in Benghazi on the 10th of September. He does meetings both on the compound and off the compound on that day, spends the night. The next day is 9/11. He has all his – because it is 9/11, out of prudence, he has all his meetings on the compound. He receives a succession of visitors during the day.

About 7:30 in the evening, he has his last meeting. It is with a Turkish diplomat. And at – when the meeting is over, at 8:30 – he has all these meetings, by the way, in what I call Building C – when the meeting is over, he escorts the Turkish diplomat to the main gate. There is an agent there with them. They say goodbye. They’re out in a street in front of the compound. Everything is calm at 8:30 p.m. There’s nothing unusual. There has been nothing unusual during the day at all outside.

After he sees the Turkish diplomat off, the Ambassador returns to Building C, where the information management officer – his name is Sean Smith, and who is one of the victims – the information management officer – I’ll just call him Sean from now on, on this call – and four other – four Diplomatic Security agents are all at Building C. One Diplomatic Security agent is in the TOC, the Tactical Operations Center. All of these agents have their side arms.

A few minutes later – we’re talking about 9 o’clock at night – the Ambassador retires to his room, the others are still at Building C, and the one agent in the TOC. At 9:40 p.m., the agent in the TOC and the agents in Building C hear loud noises coming from the front gate. They also hear gunfire and an explosion. The agent in the TOC looks at his cameras – these are cameras that have pictures of the perimeter – and the camera on the main gate reveals a large number of people – a large number of men, armed men, flowing into the compound. One special agent immediately goes to get the Ambassador in his bedroom and gets Sean, and the three of them enter the safe haven inside the building.

And I should break for a second and describe what a safe haven is. A safe haven is a fortified area within a building. This particular safe haven has a very heavy metal grill on it with several locks on it. It essentially divides the one – the single floor of that building in half, and half the floor is the safe haven, the bedroom half. Also in the safe haven is a central sort of closet area where people can take refuge where there are no windows around. In that safe haven are medical supplies, water, and such things. All the windows to that area of the building have all been grilled. A couple of them have grills that can be open from the inside so people inside can get out, but they can’t be – obviously can’t be opened from the outside.

The agent with the Ambassador in the safe haven has – in addition to his side arm, has his long gun, or I should say – it’s an M4 submachine gun, standard issue. The other agents who have heard the noise in the – at the front gate run to Building B or the TOC – they run to both, two of them to Building B, one to the TOC – to get their long guns and other kit. By kit, I mean body armor, a helmet, additional munitions, that sort of thing.

They turn around immediately and head back – or the two of them, from Building B, turn around immediately with their kit and head back to Villa C, where the Ambassador and his colleagues are. They encounter a large group of armed men between them and Building C. I should say that the agent in Building C with the Ambassador has radioed that they are all in the safe haven and are fine. The agents that encounter the armed group make a tactical decision to turn around and go back to their Building B and barricade themselves in there. So we have people in three locations right now.

And I neglected to mention – I should have mentioned from the top that the attackers, when they came through the gate, immediately torched the barracks. It is aflame, the barracks that was occupied by the 17th February Brigade armed host country security team. I should also have mentioned that at the very first moment when the agent in the TOC seized the people flowing through the gate, he immediately hits an alarm, and so there is a loud alarm. He gets on the public address system as well, yelling, “Attack, attack.” Having said that, the agents – the other agents had heard the noise and were already reacting.

Okay. So we have agents in Building C – or an agent in Building C with the Ambassador and Sean, we have two agents in Building B, and we have two agents in the TOC. All – Building C is – attackers penetrate in Building C. They walk around inside the building into a living area, not the safe haven area. The building is dark. They look through the grill, they see nothing. They try the grill, the locks on the grill; they can’t get through. The agent is, in fact, watching them from the darkness. He has his long gun trained on them and he is ready to shoot if they come any further. They do not go any further.

They have jerry cans. They have jerry cans full of diesel fuel that they’ve picked up at the entrance when they torched the barracks. They have sprinkled the diesel fuel around. They light the furniture in the living room – this big, puffy, Middle Eastern furniture. They light it all on fire, and they have also lit part of the exterior of the building on fire. At the same time, there are other attackers that have penetrated Building B. The two agents in Building B are barricaded in an inner room there. The attackers circulate in Building B but do not get to the agents and eventually leave.

A third group of attackers tried to break into the TOC. They pound away at the door, they throw themselves at the door, they kick the door, they really treat it pretty rough; they are unable to get in, and they withdraw. Back in Building C, where the Ambassador is, the building is rapidly filling with smoke. The attackers have exited. The smoke is extremely thick. It’s diesel smoke, and also, obviously, smoke from – fumes from the furniture that’s burning. And the building inside is getting more and more black. The Ambassador and the two others make a decision that it’s getting – it’s starting to get tough to breathe in there, and so they move to another part of the safe haven, a bathroom that has a window. They open the window. The window is, of course, grilled. They open the window trying to get some air in. That doesn’t help. The building is still very thick in smoke.

And I am sitting about three feet away from Senior Official Number Two, and the agent I talked to said he could not see that far away in the smoke and the darkness. So they’re in the bathroom and they’re now on the floor of the bathroom because they’re starting to hurt for air. They are breathing in the bottom two feet or so of the room, and even that is becoming difficult.

So they make a decision that they’re going to have to leave the safe haven. They decide that they’re going to go out through an adjacent bedroom which has one of the window grills that will open. The agent leads the two others into a hallway in that bedroom. He opens the grill. He’s going first because that is standard procedure. There is firing going on outside. I should have mentioned that during all of this, all of these events that I’ve been describing, there is considerable firing going on outside. There are tracer bullets. There is smoke. There is – there are explosions. I can’t tell you that they were RPGs, but I think they were RPGs. So there’s a lot of action going on, and there’s dozens of armed men on the – there are dozens of armed men on the compound.

Okay. We’ve got the agent. He’s opening the – he is suffering severely from smoke inhalation at this point. He can barely breathe. He can barely see. He’s got the grill open and he flops out of the window onto a little patio that’s been enclosed by sandbags. He determines that he’s under fire, but he also looks back and sees he doesn’t have his two companions. He goes back in to get them. He can’t find them. He goes in and out several times before smoke overcomes him completely, and he has to stagger up a small ladder to the roof of the building and collapse. He collapses.

At that point, he radios the other agents. Again, the other agents are barricaded in Building C and – Building B, and the TOC. He radios the other agents that he’s got a problem. He is very difficult to understand. He can barely speak.

The other agents, at this time, can see that there is some smoke, or at least the agents in the TOC – this is the first they become aware that Building C is on fire. They don’t have direct line of sight. They’re seeing smoke and now they’ve heard from the agent. So they make a determination to go to Building C to try to find their colleagues.

The agent in the TOC, who is in full gear, opens the door, throws a smoke grenade, which lands between the two buildings, to obscure what he is doing, and he moves to Building B, enters Building B. He un-barricades the two agents that are in there, and the three of them emerge and head for Building C. There are, however, plenty of bad guys and plenty of firing still on the compound, and they decide that the safest way for them to move is to go into an armored vehicle, which is parked right there. They get into the armored vehicle and they drive to Building C.

They drive to the part of the building where the agent had emerged. He’s on the roof. They make contact with the agent. Two of them set up as best a perimeter as they can, and the third one, third agent, goes into the building. This goes on for many minutes. Goes into the building, into the choking smoke. When that agent can’t proceed, another agent goes in, and so on. And they take turns going into the building on their hands and knees, feeling their way through the building to try to find their two colleagues. They find Sean. They pull him out of the building. He is deceased. They are unable to find the Ambassador.

At this point, the special security team, the quick reaction security team from the other compound, arrive on this compound. They came from what we call the annex. With them – there are six of them – with them are about 16 members of the Libyan February 17th Brigade, the same militia that was – whose – some members of which were on our compound to begin with in the barracks.

As those guys attempt to secure a perimeter around Building C, they also move to the TOC, where one agent has been manning the phone. I neglected to mention from the top that that agent from the top of this incident, or the very beginning of this incident, has been on the phone. He had called the quick reaction security team, he had called the Libyan authorities, he had called the Embassy in Tripoli, and he had called Washington. He had them all going to ask for help. And he remained in the TOC.

So at this point in the evening, the members of the quick reaction team, some parts of it, go to the TOC with the Libyan 17th Brigade – 17th February Brigade. They get him out of the TOC. He moves with them to join their colleagues outside of Building C. All the agents at this point are suffering from smoke inhalation. The agent that had been in the building originally with the Ambassador is very, very severely impacted, the others somewhat less so, but they can’t go back in. The remaining agent, the one that had come from the TOC, freshest set of lungs, goes into the building himself, though he is advised not to. He goes into the building himself, as do some members of the quick reaction security team.

The agent makes a couple of attempts, cannot proceed. He’s back outside of the building. He takes his shirt off. There’s a swimming pool nearby. He dips his shirt in the swimming pool and wraps it around his head, goes in one last time. Still can’t find the Ambassador. Nobody is able to find the Ambassador.

At this point, the quick reaction security team and the Libyans, especially the Libyan forces, are saying, “We cannot stay here. It’s time to leave. We’ve got to leave. We can’t hold the perimeter.” So at that point, they make the decision to evacuate the compound and to head for the annex. The annex is about two kilometers away. My agents pile into an armored vehicle with the body of Sean, and they exit the main gate.

Here it’s a little harder to understand because I don’t have a diagram that you can show – that I can show you. But in a nutshell, they take fire almost as soon as they emerge from the compound. They go a couple of – they go in one direction toward the annex. They don’t like what they’re seeing ahead of them. There are crowds. There are groups of men. They turn around and go the other direction. They don’t like what they’re seeing in that direction either. They make another u-turn. They’re going at a steady pace. There is traffic in the roads around there. This is in Benghazi, after all. Now, they’re going at a steady pace and they’re trying not to attract too much attention, so they’re going maybe 15 miles an hour down the street.

They come up to a knot of men in an adjacent compound, and one of the men signals them to turn into that compound. They agents at that point smell a rat, and they step on it. They have taken some fire already. At this point, they take very heavy fire as they go by this group of men. They take direct fire from AK-47s from about two feet away. The men also throw hand grenades or gelignite bombs under – at the vehicle and under it. At this point, the armored vehicle is extremely heavily impacted, but it’s still holding. There are two flat tires, but they’re still rolling. And they continue far down the block toward the crowds and far down several blocks to the crowd – to another crowd where this road t-bones into a main road. There is a crowd there. They pass through the crowd and on – turn right onto this main road. This main road is completely choked with traffic, enormous traffic jam typical for, I think, that time of night in that part of town. There are shops along the road there and so on.

Rather than get stuck in the traffic, the agents careen their car over the median – there is a median, a grassy median – and into the opposing traffic, and they go counter-flow until they emerge into a more lightly trafficked area and ultimately make their way to the annex.

Once at the annex, the annex has its own security – a security force there. There are people at the annex. The guys in the car join the defense at the annex. They take up firing positions on the roof – some of them do – and other firing positions around the annex. The annex is, at this time, also taking fire and does take fire intermittently, on and off, for the next several hours. The fire consists of AK-47s but also RPGs, and it’s, at times, quite intense.

As the night goes on, a team of reinforcements from Embassy Tripoli arrives by chartered aircraft at Benghazi airport and makes its way to the compound – to the annex, I should say. And I should have mentioned that the quick reaction – the quick reaction security team that was at the compound has also, in addition to my five agents, has also returned to the annex safely. The reinforcements from Tripoli are at the compound – at the annex. They take up their positions. And somewhere around 5:45 in the morning – sorry, somewhere around 4 o'clock in the morning – I have my timeline wrong – somewhere around 4 o'clock in the morning the annex takes mortar fire. It is precise and some of the mortar fire lands on the roof of the annex. It immediately killed two security personnel that are there, severely wounds one of the agents that’s come from the compound.

At that point, a decision is made at the annex that they are going to have to evacuate the whole enterprise. And the next hours are spent, one, securing the annex, and then two, moving in a significant and large convoy of vehicles everybody to the airport, where they are evacuated on two flights.

So that’s the end of my tick-tock.

More, later...

These are my articles on the Libyan Revolution:
Libya: This is what democracy looks like - protesters take over HQ of Ansar al-Sharia
My answer to Secretary Clinton Re: US Death in Libya
Women and the Libyan Revolution
The Left and the Arab Spring
Libya's elected congress to take power today
The Elections and Libya's Violent Militias
#Libya at the crossroads: The ballot or the bullet
Is Libya better off than it was?
Libyan Elections to be held July 7th
Qaddafi forces Strike Back in Libya
Libya & Syria - two videos - no comment
BREAKING: Libyan High Court strikes down anti-free speech law
Where should Libya's Saif Qaddafi be tried?
MSM plays Hankey Panky with Libya
Qaddafi lies live on after him
Another "Houla style" massacre in Syria
Libya's Qaddafi helped US & Israel against Iran in Olympic Games
Why is Russia demanding NATO boots on the ground in Libya?
#LyElect Libyans register to vote 1st time in 60 years
Libya's Revolution: How We Won - The Internationale in the 21st Century
Good News from Libya
On Libya & Glenn Greenwald: Are the anti-interventionists becoming counter-revolutionaries?
UN: NATO killed 60 civilians in Libya
Libya in the news today
Amnesty International on Libya again
The Current Situation in Libya
Democracy Now & Amy Goodman gets it wrong again.
Why is Chris Hedges calling for "boots on the ground" in Libya?
The Worm Has Turned: Good Film on Libyan Revolution from PressTV
Why NATO's mission in Libya isn't over yet
Libya's Freedom Fighters: How They Won
Racism in Libya
Abdul Rahman Gave his Eyes to See the End of Qaddafi
BREAKING: Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime
BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber
Who really beat Qaddafi?
#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is Joined
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation 4:47 PM PT:

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)

    Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

    by Clay Claiborne on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 02:15:42 PM PDT

  •  As a side comment, check Yahoo frontpage (0+ / 0-)

    There's a poll question asking whether Libya is a big deal that plays a significant role in the election. With over 300K votes, the majority is 55% saying yes it does, versus 45% saying no. Now, Yahoo has been taken over by the tea-bags, but it is still a concern that 55% of voters are concerned about this, while Herman Cain wasn't even sure where the country was, or what it was called, or what President Obama did. Hell, most of the Rethugs couldn't even point to Libya on a map, let alone Benghazi.

    Still, Obama has to come out swinging. Explain in no unclear terms that the Ambassador was traveling in secret, that Republicans voted to cut funding to the State Department to pay for security, that initial results on the ground conflated the inflammatory video with the terrorist unit, and that the US is working with Libya to find those responsible.

    And no matter what, Romney has no foreign policy experience: his team are all neo-cons from Bush, and the only thing he knows is that he keeps his money overseas.

    •  I find it absolutely amazing that (0+ / 0-)

      "Libya is a big deal that plays a significant role in the election" in a negative sense for Obama.

      In the first place, tragic as the death of the 4 Americans is. Shit happens. No security plan is perfect.

      I mean really? How much can you judge the president by any single incident? How can any single failure stand in judgement of the overall policy?

      Chris Stevens knew the dangers. With his help, the Libyans had just put down a dictator of 42 years in a bloody civil war and all was not yet quiet on the eastern front.

      Traveling in secret with a small security force was probably the best way to go but the Qaddafi people still have their sources and so do the jhidists. Somewhere there was a leak.

      These things happen. The only thing to do is find the leak, tighten security and move forward. The Libyans have lost 18 army officers to assassination, mostly ones who defected from Qaddafi, and both the Red Cross and other US institutions have been targeted. The civil war is mostly over but not entirely over if only for a few revenge seekers and criminals on the lose.

      In the second place, to the extent that "Libya" becomes the focus of the Presidential race, I think it should be a big plus for Obama.

      Look at it this way.

      The so-called "War on Libya" is the one war that can truly be called "Obama's War." It started and ended on his watch.

      No American troops were deployed on the ground.

      No American lives were lost, unless you stretch to include these four.

      The US really did help the Libyan people defeat a brutal dictator and stopped Qaddafi's aerial and artillery bombardment from doing to Libya what Assad is doing to Syria.

      The US fought a war in the Middle East and the Arab Street thanks us for it because the US was once again fighting on the side of the angels.

      After Vietnam. and after the two quagmires handed to us by George Bush, Iraq and Afghanistan, I should think Obama should be given very high marks for his Libya policy.

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 04:14:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  More people died in Libya after NATO's (0+ / 0-)

        'humanitarian' intervention than have been killed by the Gaddafi regime in 40 years. Less than 1000 had died (on both sides) when NATO started bombing. By the time Gaddafi was killed, 30,000 to 50,000 Libyans had lost their lives plus tens of thousands wounded.

        The killing goes on. You reap what you sow.
        Both candidates miss the point on Libya
        Monday, Oct 22, 2012

        Lost in the hand-wringing over Benghazi is how dysfunctional the country remains a year after the fall of Gaddafi
        By Stephen R. Weissman, GlobalPost

        WASHINGTON — On Monday night, the presidential candidates will undoubtedly continue to debate the administration’s handling of the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya and its significance for American policy towards the Middle East.

        Unfortunately, they are likely to continue to ignore the most important question posed by the Sept. 11 murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American officials by an Islamic militia that may be connected to an Al Qaeda affiliate, namely: “How is it that one year after the US provided essential military and diplomatic support to the NATO operation that enabled Libyan rebels overthrow dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya finds itself at the mercy of hundreds of lawless militias and without a functioning state?”

        The answer is that although their declared objective was to protect civilian areas under threat of attack from Gaddafi’s forces, the US and its allies actually promoted relatively rapid and violent regime change — then left the country in the hands of a fledgling rebel political leadership with tenuous control over decentralized fighters. In framing its policies, the Obama administration appears to have paid little attention to Libyan history or political realities. Libya was only 60 years old and had weak national institutions. It had no history of democratic elections or political participation, strong regional and tribal tensions, a historical basis for an Islamic movement, and was increasingly awash with weapons. In this context, the situation in Libya today was utterly predictable.
        Yet there was a reasonable alternative, versions of which were put forward by the African Union (spearheaded by South Africa) and the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. Basically, the parties to the conflict would have agreed to: a cease-fire to be monitored by a UN peacekeeping force, political negotiations to establish democratic institutions, and a transitional government that would include representatives of the former rebels and those on the government side without blood on their hands. The linchpin would be a firm understanding that Gaddafi would leave power as part of this package.

        Based upon my research, Gaddafi, under pressure, had made a number of potentially significant concessions by June 2011. His government had agreed to talk to the rebel Transitional National Council; it had accepted a withdrawal of its military forces from occupied towns if the TNC would do the same; and Gaddafi had personally assured the African Union that he would not participate in future negotiations for a democratic transition. Moreover, from mid-June to mid-July, Gaddafi sent private emissaries to the United States and European governments who stated he was willing to leave power in the context of a peace agreement and a transitional government. Rather than test these waters, NATO leaders undermined African mediators as South African President Jacob Zuma subsequently complained.

        •  Wrong info, more than 7,000 were killed by (0+ / 0-)

          Qaddafi before NATO got involved.

          In February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night, I report how Qaddafi's thugs killed 700-800 at one protest in Tripoli in one night, and how he had killed 2000 in Benghazi in the days before that.

          We can see in Aleppo and Homs what Qaddafi had in mind for Benghazi and we know what he did to Misrata, including dropping cluster bombs.

          NATO bombs killed less than a hundred civilians according to numerous reports including the UN, HRW and NY Times.

          But here you are again, promoting pro-Qaddafi revisionist lies.

          Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

          by Clay Claiborne on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 06:51:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Stop using your own posts to attempt to prove (0+ / 0-)

            your claims. You have done this over and over.

            NATO bombs killed less than a hundred civilians according to numerous reports including the UN, HRW and NY Times.
            I did not say it was NATO who killed the thousands of people. It was NATO that escalated the conflict into a full blown civil war for regime change that created the conditions for the killing of Libyans from both sides.

            The bombing started March 19 and the majority of deaths of Libyans, civilians, rebels and government forces, occurred after that. The fact is that there were other options that the NATO countries refused to consider. It was regime change ONLY. That is why Russia and China are no longer playing NATO's war games now.

            I report how Qaddafi's thugs killed 700-800 at one protest in Tripoli in one night, and how he had killed 2000 in Benghazi in the days before that.
            You try and make it sound like the rebels were peacefully protesting and got killed. The majority died when they tried to attack government strongholds, a foolish move on their part. The protests in Libya escalated into armed conflict VERY rapidly -  within days of Feb 17.
            Tripoli protests and clashes (February 2011)

            On 17 February 2011, it was reported that supporters of the Libyan opposition had taken to the streets and Green Square during the Day of Revolt.[11][12]

            On 20 February, it was claimed that snipers fired on crowds to control Green Square, as protesters started fires at police stations and the General People's Congress building.[13][14] Reportedly, the state television building was also set on fire on 21 February.[15][16] On the morning of 21 February, activists claimed that protesters surrounded Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziza compound and were trying to storm it, but were forced back by heavy gunfire that killed up to 80 people.[17] On 22 February, it was stated that the justice ministry at al-Shuhadaa square and the Shaabia headquarters were attacked.[13][14]

            Tripoli's Mitiga International Airport may have been taken by the protesters on 25 February.[18][19] The Tajura district of Tripoli rose up against control by the Gaddafi government on 25 February.[20] However, it was quickly confronted by government troops who reportedly fired on the protestors and killed 25 of them.[21]

            First Battle of Benghazi


            110[5]-257[6] opposition members were killed in Benghazi. In addition, another 63 opposition members were killed in Bayda and 29 in Derna.[8] Also, 130 rebelling soldiers were reported to be executed by government forces.[8] An estimated total of 332-479 members of the opposition forces died during the fighting in Benghazi, Bayda and Derna. Another 1,932 were wounded.[17] 111 soldiers loyal to Gaddafi were also killed.[18] Of the 325 mercenaries sent to the east to quell the uprising's initial phase, it was reported that 50 were captured and executed by the opposition,[4][15] and at least 236 were captured alive.[4][19] The fate of the others was unknown.

            I'll leave you with the following:
             The Top Ten Myths in the War Against Libya
            A Victory for the Libyan People?
            August 31, 2011
            by MAXIMILIAN C. FORTE

            Since Colonel Gaddafi has lost his military hold in the war against NATO and the insurgents/rebels/new regime, numerous talking heads have taken to celebrating this war as a “success”. They believe this is a “victory of the Libyan people” and that we should all be celebrating. Others proclaim victory for the “responsibility to protect,” for “humanitarian interventionism,” and condemn the “anti-imperialist left”. Some of those who claim to be “revolutionaries,” or believe they support the “Arab revolution,” somehow find it possible to sideline NATO’s role in the war, instead extolling the democratic virtues of the insurgents, glorifying their martyrdom, and magnifying their role until everything else is pushed from view. I wish to dissent from this circle of acclamation, and remind readers of the role of ideologically-motivated fabrications of “truth” that were used to justify, enable, enhance, and motivate the war against Libya—and to emphasize how damaging the practical effects of those myths have been to Libyans, and to all those who favoured peaceful, non-militarist solutions.

  •  Libya has yet to form a working government. (0+ / 0-)

    There have been hundreds of incidences of violence within the country that have resulted in almost 2000 deaths since Gaddafi fell. The latest is in Bani Walid where 26 have been killed and several hundred wounded. The government and Misrata militias having been firing grad missiles into the town and have been killing civilians and also hitting the hospital (which was evacuated).
    Ban Ki-Moon “alarmed” at Bani Walid fighting

    Tripoli,  22 October:

    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is alarmed by the fighting at Bani Walid and reports of growing civilian casualties.

    It is reported yesterday that some 26 people had been killed in the fighting and 200 wounded, although the Libya Herald was told in Misrata that 13 soldiers alone had been killed in Saturday’s offensive and 121 wounded.

    In a statement issued in New York last night, Sunday, he called on the Libyan authorities and those in the town to immediately start a process to solve the stand-off peacefully, and reminded them of “their obligations under international humanitarian law”.

    The state “and those militias acting in its name” have, he said “ a responsibility to the people of Libya to act fully in accordance with international law, in particular international human rights law”.

    Expressing concern about reports of “indiscriminate” shelling, he warned everyone involved in the fighting to be “aware that the international community is closely monitoring the situation.”

    There have been severe security incidents throughout the country in the last several months and are on the increase.

    The economy is not doing well at all. It is estimated that 80% of the population relies on government funding for income and very little reconstruction has taken place. Demonstrations are now occurring on an almost daily basis around the country.

    Here's a recent report from Benghazi:
     Second Benghazi local council president resigns

    By Maha Ellawati.
    Benghazi, 21 October:

    The president of Benghazi’s local council tendered his resignation today, less than two months after taking office.

    Juma Sahli, who took office on 3 September, cited the “desperate” situation regarding non-payment of local salaries and the government’s failure to fulfill promises of support to Benghazi as reasons for his decision.

    He is the second president to stand down from the beleaguered council since elections on 19 May.

    The local council’s greatest impediment is a lack of funds, but residents have also complained of poor leadership and ill-thought out decisions that have exacerbated Benghazi’s many problems.

    “Thirty-thousand people lost their incomes in Benghazi during the war. They badly need financial support and the local council is failing to provide it”, said one local lawyer who has been closely following proceedings.

    Sahli was subjected to verbal abuse by protesters at a demonstration at the local council offices yesterday, in which he was accused of embezzling funds allocated by the government in Tripoli for his own benefit.
    In a statement, Sahli gave six reasons for his resignation, most of them aimed at the government. Tripoli was accused of a failure to provide an emergency budget, requested over four months ago; a failure to address security problems; and a failure to address problems relating to the war-wounded, the missing and martyrs.

    Last week, the council dispatched one of its members to Tripoli to discuss the problems, but to “no avail”.

    In particular, “the problem of salary payments is desperate”, the statement read. “There are people who did not receive any salaries for a whole year, and we all know the expenses expected at this time of year, when schools have just restarted and with the approach of Eid Al-Adha.”

    It is way too early to judge the NATO sponsored Libyan regime change a unqualified success.
    •  He wanted for Libya what is happening to Syria. (0+ / 0-)

      By his criteria we could say that Chicago doesn't have a functioning government.

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 06:57:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ban Ki-Moon is trying to resolve the problem (0+ / 0-)

        without resort to arms and more killing.

        Here's an interesting report in a similar vein:
        US blocks Russia's draft statement in UN on peaceful resolution of Bani Walid violence

        The United States has blocked a draft statement, proposed by Russia, on the resolution of violence in the Libyan town of Bani Walid, which has been under siege for weeks. The statement called for a peaceful solution to the conflict.

        Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin said the move “can't be serious,” reminding the American delegation of the deadly attack in Benghazi that claimed the lives of four US diplomats in September.

        Blocking a draft statement that called to solve the country’s political problems without violence is very strange,” Churkin said. “This is a case when it is difficult to explain the US delegation’s actions in rational terms.”

        The statement drafted by Russia on Bani Walid called on the Libyan authorities “to take urgent steps to resolve the conflict by peaceful means and to preserve the rights of all Libyan citizens.” It also expressed concern about the significant escalation of violence in and around the city of Bani Walid in recent days.

        Reports from the small town indicate innocent civilians are becoming the victims of fighting between pro-government forces and Gaddafi loyalists.

        By his criteria we could say that Chicago doesn't have a functioning government.
        Trying to compare Libya's economic and political problems to Chicago's is nonsense.

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