President Barack Obama speaking at the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 25, where he talked at length about a “disgusting video” that had been posted on YouTube and that U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice had earlier pointed to as the root cause of the 9/11/12 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
(CNSNews.com) – What David Ignatius of The Washington Post describes as a “detailed CIA timeline” of the events that unfolded in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012 (and in the early hours of Sept. 12), confirms that former Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were not killed until seven hours after the State Department informed the White House—in writing–that the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi was under attack and that U.S. Amb. Chris Stevens was in Benghazi where the attack was taking place.
The attack started at 3:40 p.m Washington, D.C. time. The State Department sent the White House an email at 4:05 pm with this subject line: “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack.” The email said Amb. Stevens was in Benghazi.
According to the CIA timeline provided to the Washington Post and other news organizations, Woods and Doherty were killed by mortar fire while on the roof of a CIA facility in Benghazi between 11:15 p.m. and 11:26 p.m. Washington time—or between 5:15 a.m. and 5:26 a.m. Sept. 12 Benghazi time.
Between 4:05 p.m. Washington time, when the State Department emailed the White House that the U.S diplomatic mission in Benghazi was under attack, and 11:15 p.m., when Wood and Doherty were killed, more than seven hours passed.
On Expedia.com, British Airways is currently advertizing a non-stop flight from London to Libya on Nov. 15–via an Airbus A320–that is expected to have a duration of 3 hours and 30 minutes. That means that in the seven hours that elapsed between when the State Department informed the White House that the U.S. mission in Benghazi was under attack and when Woods and Doherty were killed, a common commercial airliner—not a military jet–could have flown from England to Libya and back.
White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, according to reporting by CBS News, personally informed President Obama of the ongoing attack in Benghazi before Obama went into a pre-scheduled 5:00 p.m. meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Vice President Joe Biden.
(On Tuesday, CNSNews.com asked the Defense Department whether this previously scheduled meeting between Obama and Panetta had in fact taken place, whether Panetta was aware at that time of the ongoing attack in Benghazi that the State Department had reported to both the Pentagon and the White House at 4:05 p.m., and whether the president had used that meeting to discuss with Panetta what should be done to defend the Americans in Benghazi. Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a department spokesman, told CNSNews.com at that time: “Panetta met with President Obama, as the White House-provided scheduled indicates. However, neither the content nor the subject of discussions between the President and his advisers are appropriate for disclosure.”)
CBS reported that after National Security Adviser Donilon initially notified Obama of the Benghazi attack just before the 5:00 p.m. meeting with Panetta the president was subsequently “updated several times throughout the evening.”
The CIA timeline was provided to some news organizations on Thursday to demonstrate that the administration was getting a bum rap from those who said it reacted too slowly to the 9/11/12 terrorist attack in Libya.
According to the timeline, as published by the Associated Press, a security team left the CIA annex in Benghazi to go to the aid of the nearby consulate less than 25 minutes after the attack started at 9:40 p.m Benghazi time (3:40 p.m. Washington time).
This team included former Navy Seal Tyrone Woods, Ignatius reported in the Washington Post. It rescued some people at the consulate, sending them back to the CIA annex.
By 11:30 p.m. this security team itself left the consulate to return–while being attacked–to the CIA annex. In the meantime, as the Los Angeles Times reported of the timeline, another security team came from Tripoli to Benghazi aboard a chartered airplane.
“[T]he CIA also sent a second six-member team from Tripoli on a chartered plane to help repel the attack,” reported the Times. “This team included Glen Doherty, another former SEAL, who was later killed when attackers fired mortar rounds at the CIA Annex.”
After making the short flight from Tripoli to Benghazi, however, the CIA security team had a very difficult time trying to get from the Benghazi airport to the CIA annex to which their colleagues had retreated when they left the consulate.
The AP story on the timeline says that the CIA security team from Tripoli arrived at the Benghazi airport at 1:00 a.m., but then could not “find a ride into town.”
“Around 1 a.m., a team of additional security personnel from Tripoli lands at the Benghazi airport and attempts to find a ride into town. Upon learning that Stevens is missing and that the situation at the CIA annex has calmed, the team focuses on locating Stevens and obtaining information about the security situation at the hospital,” reported the AP.
“Before dawn, the team at the airport finally manages to secure transportation and armed escort,” said the AP.
At 1:00 a.m. Benghazi time, when the AP says these security reinforcements arrived at the Benghazi airport, it was 7:00 p.m. Washington, D.C. time—or about three hours after the White House had first learned of the attack
David Ignatius at the Washington Post reported that the security reinforcements from Tripoli arrived at the Benghazi airport at 1:15 a.m., but did not leave the airport until 4:30 a.m.
“1:15 a.m.: CIA reinforcements arrive on a 45-minute flight from Tripoli in a plane they’ve hastily chartered,” Ignatius wrote. “The Tripoli team includes four GRS [Global Response Staff] security officers, a CIA case officer and two U.S. military personnel on loan to the agency. They don’t leave the Benghazi airport until 4:30 a.m. The delay is caused by negotiations with Libyan authorities over permission to leave the airport; obtaining vehicles; and the need to frame a clear mission plan. The first idea is to go to a Benghazi hospital to recover Stevens, who they rightly suspect is already dead. (Also killed was a State Department communication specialist.) But the hospital is surrounded by the al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia militia that mounted the consulate attack.”
Between when these CIA security reinforcements landed in Benghazi at about 1:00 a.m. or 1:15 a.m. and when they arrived at the CIA annex, about four hours elapsed, according to the reports. That alone is more than the three and a half hours it takes British Airways to fly an Airbus from London to Libya.
“5:15 a.m. The team arrives at the CIA annex, with Libyan support, just before mortar rounds begin to hit the facility,” says the AP report on the timeline. “Two CIA security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty are killed when they take direct mortar fire while engaging the attackers. The attack lasts only 11 minutes before dissipating.” Doherty had come with the security team from Tripoli.
At 5:15 a.m. Benghazi time it was 11:15 p.m Washington time—seven hours and 10 minutes after the State Department sent its email notifying the White House that the U.S. mission in Benghazi was under attack.
In an interview with KUSA TV in Denver a week ago, President Obama said of the Benghazi attack: “[T]he minute I found out what was happening, I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to.”