Since the Sept. 11 assault on the U.S. Consulate in
which left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead,
questions have persisted over what happened that night, whether there was
adequate security at the compound and the manner in which the Obama
administration initially characterized the attack. Benghazi
Below is an account, compiled by CBS News, from sources who spoke to us in
about the attack in that eastern Libyan city and the investigation that
Security Incidents Prior to the
December 2011: Terror plot thwarted, but
emergency plan warns of many Islamic terrorists still operating in area. Benghazi
Embassy in U.S. lead security
officer, RSO Eric Nordstrom, requests additional security but later testified
he received no response. Tripoli
July 2012: RSO Nordstrom again requests additional security (perhaps via cable signed by Amb. Stevens dated July 9, see below).
Early August: State Dept. removes the last of three 6-man State Dept. security teams and a 16-man military SST team from
Timeline of 9/11 Consulate Attack As It Unfolds
Hours before the assault, nearly 750 miles away in
events were taking shape that would inform the early narrative surrounding the
events in Cairo : Benghazi
Around (): The U.S. Embassy in
releases a statement on
its website disavowing a YouTube film named "Innocence of Muslims,"
which mocks the Prophet Mohammad. Later that afternoon, protesters who had
gathered outside the embassy compound stormed the gates and tore the American
flag down, replacing it with a black Salafist flag. Cairo
Around 9:00 p.m. (3:00 p.m. ET): In the walled Benghazi compound, U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens says good night to the Turkish Ambassador Ali Kemal Aydin and retires to his room in Building C, a large residence with numerous bedrooms and a safe haven.
There are three other structures in the compound: Building B, a residence with bedrooms and a cantina and dining room; a Tactical Operations Center (TOC) located across from building B, containing offices, one bedroom and security cameras; and barracks located by the front gate, staffed by Libyan security guards.
At this time, there are five diplomatic security agents (DS) on site - three based in
and two traveling with Stevens. According to a U.S. State Department account
given Oct. 9 there was "nothing unusual outside of the gates." Benghazi
(): Gunfire and an explosion are heard. A TOC agent sees dozens of armed people over security camera flowing through a pedestrian gate at the compound's main entrance. It is not clear how the gate was opened.
The agent hits the alarm and alerts the
security team in the nearby annex and the Libyan 17th of February Brigade, one
of several powerful militias serving as a de facto security presence in .
The embassy in Benghazi and the
State Dept. command center were also alerted. Tripoli
State Dept. Diplomatic Security follows events in real time on a listen-only, audio-only feed, according to testimony of Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant director for international programs, given before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Oct 10.
Around (): At the compound, several DS agents leave to get tactical gear from Building B. One stays in Building C with Ambassador Stevens and Information Officer Sean Smith. The mob sets fire to the 17th of February Brigade barracks on site.
DS agent Scott Strickland moves Stevens and Smith to the closest area "safe haven" in Building C.
The other agents, currently in Building B and the TOC come under attack.
The attackers gets into Building C, lights furniture on fire, then the building's exterior. Stevens, Smith and Agent Strickland move to the bathroom and lay on floor but decide to leave safe haven after being overcome by smoke.
Strickland goes out an emergency escape window. Stevens and Smith do not follow. Strickland returns several times but can't find them in the overwhelming smoke. He goes up to the roof and radios the other agents.
Three agents return to Building C via armored vehicle. They search and find Smith's body, but not Stevens.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is told of the incident "shortly after it began at ," CBS News' Margaret Brennan reported Sept. 14.
spoke to the Libyan President Mohammed Magariaf to "enlist his full
military began moving an unarmed drone over U.S.
to provide real-time intelligence to the Benghazi CIA
team on the ground. It would take roughly an hour to arrive.
(): An alert from the
is issued to a number of
government and intelligence agencies, including the White House Situation Room,
the office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the FBI. " State
Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack" -- "approximately 20
armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador
Stevens, who is currently in US ,
and four COM (Chief of Mission/embassy) personnel are in the compound safe
(): A six-member
team arrives from the annex with 40 to 60 members of 17th of February Brigade.
The team removes Smith's body.
Around (): Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his top military adviser learn of the incident.
(): An alert from the
: "the firing... in State
has stopped. A response team is on site attempting to locate COM
(): Just ahead of the weekly meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey, White House National Security Advisor Tom Donilon tells President Obama of the attack and the fire at the main villa. The president and those officials discuss possible responses to the situation.
At the compound, the 17th of February Brigade says they can't hold the perimeter and withdraws.
DS agents make final search for Stevens and leave with the
team in an armored vehicle heading for the annex, taking fire along the way.
Of note, when CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer visited the compound in one of several trips to
she found little evidence of an extensive firefight at the compound's walls and
main gate, likely indicating the fiercest fighting occurred away from the
() Agents arrive at the annex, which receives sporadic small-arms fire and RPG rounds over a roughly 90-minute period. The security team returns fire and the attackers disperse.
Over the next two hours, Sec. Panetta holds a series of meetings and issues several orders: Two Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (
platoons stationed in Rota, Spain prepare to deploy - one to Benghazi and the
other to the Embassy in Tripoli; A special operations team in Europe is ordered
to move to Sigonella, Sicily - less than one hour's flight away from Benghazi;
An additional special operations team based in the U.S. is ordered to deploy to
(): An alert from the
states that the U.S. Embassy
Center reports the Islamic
military group "Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibilty for Benghazi
Attack"... "on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on
Embassy Tripoli." Tripoli
Around (): A six-man security team, including two Defense Dept. personnel, leave Embassy Tripoli for
(): The U.S. security team from Embassy Tripoli lands in
and learn that the ambassador is missing. They try to arrange for
transportation into town, with the goal of locating Stevens. Benghazi
(): Secretary Clinton issues a statement acknowledging the death of one State Dept. officer.
(): A second U.S. Predator drone arrives to relieve the first.
(): The U.S. Regional Security Office in
gets a phone call
from an Arabic-speaking source who says a Westerner has been found in Tripoli
and is perhaps at a hospital. It's believed to be Ambassador Stevens. Transfer
to airport is arranged. Benghazi
At around the same time, the additional security team finds transportation from the airport under the escort of the Libyan Shield, another local militia, but decides to head to the annex after learning that Stevens was almost certainly dead. Just after their arrival, the annex takes mortar fire, sustaining three direct hits. The precision of the attacks indicates a level of sophistication and coordination.
Former U.S. Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty are killed in the mortar assault, which lasts just 11 minutes before dissipating; a DS agent and annex security member are severely wounded.
After the mortar attack, about 30 Americans evacuate the annex and head to the airport, with the assistance of the Libyan security convoy.
Ambassador Stevens is confirmed dead later that morning, as Americans see his body at the airport
Around 7:40 a.m. (1:40 a.m. ET): Unable to fit on one plane, the first wave of Americans - consisting of U.S. diplomats and civilians - departs Benghazi and heads to Tripoli, leaving behind security staff and bodies.
Around (): The second flight leaves
for Benghazi with Tripoli
security members and bodies. U.S.
President Obama is told of Stevens' death. State Department tells all diplomatic posts around the world to review their security posture and to take all necessary steps to enhance it
Around (): Americans are transported out of
on a C-17 military aircraft, heading for Tripoli . Ramstein,
special forces team arrives in U.S. ,
becoming the first military unit in the region. Sigonella, Sicily
Around (): A
platoon arrives in . Tripoli
() The C-17 carrying Stevens' body and the other Americans arrives in Ramstein.
Post-Attack Response and Investigation
Sept. 12: Secretary Clinton announces the death of Stevens and Smith via press release.
President Obama addresses the public: "Make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.
"Since our founding, the
has been a nation that respects all
faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But
there is absolutely no justification for this type of senseless violence. ...
No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that
character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for." United
The president spends time with State Department personnel in an impromptu visit that is closed to the press.
In an interview with President Obama the same day, "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft presses the president on early accounts that the attack stemmed from a spontaneous protest, saying it didn't "sound like your normal demonstration..”
"We're still investigating exactly what happened," Mr. Obama said. "I don't want to jump the gun on this. But you're right that this is not a situation that was exactly the same as what happened in
And my suspicion is, is that there are folks involved in this, who were looking
to target Americans from the start." Egypt
visits the Near Eastern Affairs bureau, and the information technology bureau
where Sean Smith was assigned, CBS News' Margaret Brennan reports. Clinton
Meanwhile, senior State Dept. officials share initial details of the attack in
with members of the press via phone briefing. A senior official says in
response to an inquiry about alleged protests outside of consulate that night:
"We frankly don't have a full picture of what may have been going on
outside of the compound walls before the firing began. ... With regard to
whether there is any connection between this Internet activity and this
extremist attack in Benghazi ,
frankly, we just don't know. We're not going to know until we have a chance to
CBS News' David Martin reports that some
officials already were looking at the attack as a terrorist act, perpetrated by
people either associated with or who sympathize with al Qaeda, that took
advantage of the protest. U.S.
The FBI officially opens an investigation into the deaths of Stevens and the three other Americans killed, as reported by CBS News' Andres Triay and Bob Orr.
Sept. 13: A government official speaking on the condition of anonymity said the FBI is planning to send investigators to
to interview U.S. Consulate personnel who were evacuated there, as reported by
CBS' Pat Milton. Germany
CBS News' David Martin reports that a radical Islamic group called Ansar al Sharia is the lead suspect in the attack, according to
officials. The name means "Supporters of Islamic law." U.S.
Sec. Clinton remains in regular contact with other top officials such as Secretary Panetta and Gen. Dempsey, CBS News' Margaret Brennan reports.
Marine anti-terrorist teams similar to the one sent to
land in Tripoli
to protect the U.S. Embassy in Sana'a, reports CBS News' David Martin. There
are two more of these teams on standby but so far no plans to send them to
particular embassies. Yemen
CBS News' Charlie D'Agata gets access to an injured Libyan guard based inside the consulate, who offers a firsthand account of the attack and makes the first mention of
a British security firm contracted by the State Department that employed
Libyans to conduct procedural security measures inside the compound, including
x-rays of equipment. Blue Mountain
Sept. 14: The bodies of Stevens, Smith, Woods and Doherty are returned to the
They are welcomed in a televised ceremony at Joint Base Andrews. Secretary
Clinton publicly denounces the "Innocence of Muslims" video. U.S.
CBS News' Brennan reports that
visits the Situation Room and Oval Office "half a dozen times this
week" and spends "countless hours" there. Clinton
CBS News' Cami McCormick reports on protests outside the U.S. Embassy in
The number of protestors outside the Khartoum Embassy is estimated at 2,000.
Police use tear gas against the stone-throwing protestors. The demonstrators
were trying to get in the compound but police held them back. Khartoum, Sudan
CBS News' Charlie D'Agata interviews members of the 17th of February Brigade's
VIP protection team
involved in the evacuation and obtains exclusive photos of an injured American
being evacuated to the airport from the annex under the brigade's escort. They
put the total number of Americans evacuated from
at 32. Benghazi
Sept. 15: CBS News' D'Agata is the first reporter to locate the secret
CIA annex in .
He reports that the roof of the house is covered in mortars. CBS News
broadcasts images of the helmets and bloodied flak jackets discovered there. Benghazi
Sept. 16: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice tells Bob Schieffer on CBS' "Face the Nation" that there is no information that suggests the attack was preplanned.
"We'll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions. But based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy ... sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that -- in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent. ... We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned."
Earlier in that same program, Libyan President Magariaf tells Schieffer that the assault was preplanned and some of the attackers were foreigners.
"The way these perpetrators acted and moved ... this leaves us with no doubt that this has preplanned, determined - predetermined ... It was planned -- definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who -- who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their -- since their arrival."
Magariaf also claimed "about 50" people had been arrested in connection with the attack.
- Magariaf separately states Ahmed Boukhatala is one of the lead suspects. CBS News interviews Boukhatala over mango juice off camera and admitted he was there that night but denies any involvement in the attack. At that point, he had still not been questioned and was moving freely in
challenging Magariaf to "come to my house and arrest me" if he was a
Sept. 17: FBI officials say that they will not be going to the crime scene until they are sure they have substantial protection.
Sept. 18: Secretary Clinton tells CBS News' Margaret Brennan that the attack was the work of extremists: "Let me assure you that our security in
included a unit of host government security forces, as well as a local guard
force of the kind that we rely on in many places around the world. In addition
to the security outside the compound, we relied on a wall and a robust security
presence inside the compound. And with all of our missions overseas, in advance
of September 11, as is done every year, we did an evaluation on threat streams.
And the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has said we had no
actionable intelligence that an attack on our post in Benghazi
was planned or imminent." Benghazi
- Meanwhile, CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer reports from
that witnesses say there was no protest outside of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi
on the night of Sept. 11. Benghazi
Sept. 19: Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew Olsen tells Congress that the
assault was "a terrorist attack on our embassy. ... We are looking at
indications that individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to
Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda's affiliates; in particular, Al Qaeda in the Islamic
Sept. 20: House Oversight Committee sends a letter to Secretary Clinton asking for information in regard to the attack.
U.S. State Department spends $70,000 to buy ad time on seven Pakistani TV stations, featuring clips of Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama disavowing the film "Innocence of Muslims." The clips were taken from previous speeches from Mr. Obama and Clinton.
government declares a national holiday to protest the film. Pakistan
The State Department issues an alert warning Americans to avoid nonessential travel to
as protests are likely to continue and turn violent. Pakistan
CBS News obtains a memo detailing injuries sustained by DS personnel in
"Special Agent David Ubben, was injured during the attacks on Consulate Benghazi. From the last I have heard, Dave repeatedly entered the burning Consulate to recover injured personnel, was involved in a heavy firefight, and at some point was struck by mortar shrapnel. David has been successfully evacuated to
was stabilized and is currently in Tripoli
for more medical treatment. David has suffered a serious compound fracture to
his leg and shrapnel injuries to his head. As of our last communication, the
doctors are optimistic that his leg will be saved but he may currently have
some minor brain injuries. " Germany
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a closed briefing to Congress.
Sept. 21: Secretary Clinton says "what happened in
was a terrorist
attack," adding "we found the video that's at the core of this series
of events offensive, disgusting, reprehensible." Benghazi
Sept. 28: The Office of the Director of National Intelligence releases the following statement:
"As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists. It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate. However, we do assess that some of those involved were linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to al-Qa'ida."
Oct. 1: State Dept. security team reviews security camera footage of the attack in
for the first time. Benghazi
Oct. 2: Secretary Clinton announces her appointees to the Accountability Review Board (ARB), which will conduct the probe of the events of Sept. 11. The board begins work the same week.
Oct. 3: Secretary Clinton responds to question from CBS News' Margaret Brennan about claims that
denied requests for additional security in Washington : Libya
"Let me start by cautioning everyone against seizing on any single statement or piece of information to draw final conclusions. It's essential that we go through all of the information and the entire context so that we can get a full and complete accurate understanding of what happened. I take this responsibility very seriously, and I believe that our diplomats, our leaders, and the American people deserve a rigorous, serious, careful process ... no one wants the answers more than we do here at the department. And now based on the reviews so far, we're developing a better understanding of what happened, but we have a lot of work to do to give complete and accurate responses to all the questions and statements that are swirling out there."
Oct. 4: CBS News' Bob Orr reports the FBI arrived at the consulate in
, where it
conducted an examination, collecting evidence and documentation to the extent
possible given the time elapsed from the incident. Benghazi
Oct. 5: CBS News' Sharyl Attkisson reports on questions over whether the Benghazi compound was adequately secured:
-- Lt. Colonel Andy Wood who headed the Site Security Team in
diplomatic personnel in U.S.
repeatedly requested increased security, but the State Department in Libya denied those requests. Washington
-- Wood said his team and a six-member mobile security deployment team were pulled from
in August, and that two other MSD's also left between February and August. Libya
-- Congress and others say there were 13 threats and attacks leading up to the September 11 assault.
Oct. 8: In an interview with CBS News' Attkisson, Lt. Col. Wood says there was "pressure to reduce the number of security people" in
starting shortly after his arrival in February. Libya
The State Department told CBS News' State Dept. correspondent Margaret Brennan that despite the withdrawal of Wood's security support team, it had "no impact whatsoever on the total number of fully trained American security personnel in
overall or in Libya
In addition, the State Dept. said Wood was stationed in
and was not a part of the assessment of security in Tripoli . Benghazi
Brennan also first reports that there is video evidence of the assault in
and that it
is now in the hands of government investigators. Benghazi
Oct 9: Two senior U.S. State Dept officials share a timeline of events.
Oct. 10: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee holds a hearing into the attack, with testimony from Lt. Col. Wood, former regional security officer in Libya Eric Nordstrom, State Department's deputy assistant director for international programs Charlene Lamb and State Department's Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy.
Lawmakers questioned the pre-attack security levels and the government's initial linking of the attack to the anti-Muslim film.
Meanwhile, Colonel Hamid Hassi, a senior Libyan army officer, tells CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer that he believes American intelligence knows exactly where Ansar al Sharia, the group linked to the attack, are.
Hassi said a drone strike would be a mistake, and that any strike would have to have to come from "our side," or there would be huge problems between the
and U.S. . Libya
Oct. 15: In an interview with CBS News' Margaret Brennan, Secretary Clinton first acknowledges that the State Dept. considered using outside assets to rescue those under siege in Benghazi but decided against it: "Well we considered everything and, um, we did as you know send additional assets from Tripoli. But it was a fast moving, very difficult assault to try to figure out. As you know, the assault on the post ended, there was a gap of time, then the assault on the annex, um, so everybody who had any responsibility was scrambling very hard to figure out what more could be done."
Brennan: Why not send assets from outside of the country in addition to those coming in from
"She got the same information that everyone got and I think she very clearly said here's what we know now but this is going to change. This is what we have at present but it will evolve and the intelligence community as said the same thing."
Oct 16: CBS News' Sharyl Attkisson and David Martin confirm that unarmed Predator drones were moved to fly over
during the attack. Benghazi
Oct. 19: In the weeks before his death, Stevens sent the State Department several requests for increased security for diplomats in
CBS News' Attkisson reports. Libya
Oct. 20: CBS News' Attkisson reports no outside
military help was sent to U.S.
despite the presence of a major naval air base in Benghazi , less than one
hour's flight away. Sigonella,
Oct. 23: CBS News' Attkisson obtains some of the government's first internal emergency alerts sent during the assault.
"As the assault began, at 4:05p eastern time on September 11, an alert from the
was issued to various
government emergency watch lists including the White House Situation Room
(nss.eop.gov), the office of the Director of National Intelligence (dni.gov),
and the FBI (fbi.gov). Entitled "US Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under
Attack," the alert reports "approximately 20 armed people fired
shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently
Center , and four COM (Chief of
Mission/embassy) personnel are in the compound safe haven." Benghazi
Another alert an hour later reports: "the firing... has stopped...A response team is on site attempting to locate COM personnel."
At , an alert was sent with the subject heading "Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibilty for Benghazi Attack." The Embassy in
says the alert, reports the group "claimed responsibility on Facebook and
Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli." That alert was
sent around in Tripoli ,
hours before the wave of mortar attacks against the Benghazi CIA
Oct. 24: CBS News' Andres Triay confirms that government investigators are in possession of footage from security cameras at the
compound. The quality is said to be "decent." U.S.
CBS News' Margaret Brennan reports that the footage had been in Libyan custody for "weeks" until it was handed over to
government investigators. Brennan also confirms that there was no live video
feed of the attack in U.S. that
was being viewed at Diplomatic Security headquarters during the night of the
CBS News' David Martin and Andres Triay confirm the arrest of a Tunisian suspect in
who is believed to be involved with the attack. Turkey
Nov. 1: CBS News' Sharyl Attkisson reports that the Obama administration did not convene its top interagency counterterrorism resource - the Counterterrorism Security Group - during the
CSG is the one
group that's supposed to know what resources every agency has. They know of
multiple options and have the ability to coordinate counterterrorism assets
across all the agencies," a high-ranking government official told CBS
News. "They were not allowed to do their job. They were not called
As to why the Counterterrorism Security Group was not convened, National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor told CBS News: "From the moment the President was briefed on the
attack, the response effort was handled by the most senior national security
officials in governments. Members of the Benghazi CSG
were of course involved in these meetings and discussions to support their
Attkisson also reported on a draft letter obtained by ForeignPolicy.com, written the very day of the Benghazi attack, that someone on the U.S. team in Benghazi apparently spotted a suspicious member of the local police force photographing the inside of the U.S. mission. The letter, intended for the head of the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in
called for an investigation. It's not clear if it was ever sent. Benghazi
Another draft letter written two days before complained of an inadequate local police presence around the compound, requested ahead of Stevens' visit.
Nov.8: Senate Intelligence Committee announces a closed hearing on the
be held Nov. 15. Among those invited to testify are Director of National
Intelligence James Clapper, Benghazi CIA Director
Gen. David Petraeus, FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce, Under Secretary of State
Patrick Kennedy and National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen.
Nov. 14: President Obama defends U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice at the first press conference since his re-election, calling attacks on her handling of the
"If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me," he said. "And I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador? Who had nothing to do with
And was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had
received? To besmirch her reputation is outrageous." Benghazi
It is confirmed Petraeus is still scheduled to testify Nov. 16, despite his resignation from the
amid news of an extramarital affair.
Nov. 15: CBS News obtained the
points given to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on Sept. 15 regarding the attack.
The CIA reports that the assault appeared to
be "spontaneously inspired" by the protests against the YouTube movie
and that "there are indications that extremists participated in the
violent demonstrations." The talking points also said the investigation as
ongoing and their assessment of the events from that night may change.
Lawmakers got their first look at video recorded by security cameras at the consulate on the night of the attack. CBS News' David Martin reports that a
intelligence official said the video shows no sign the assault arose out of a
demonstration. But the classified video, shown to the House and Senate
Intelligence Committees, also indicates the attack, though intentional, was not
well planned. The video makes clear the attackers did not know the layout of
the compound. U.S.
Video of the second attack on a
annex about a mile from the consulate shows a more organized assault. The first
attack created an opportunity for the second attack, but whether it was planned
that way all along is not clear.
Nov. 16: Former CIA Director David Petraeus gave closed-door briefings to Congress on the Sept. 11 attack on the
consulate in U.S. ,
and when exactly Benghazi, Libya
officials knew there were terrorist elements involved. U.S.
After the hearing, Democrats and Republicans disputed whether Petraeus has been consistent in his testimony, and whether the
talking points on the attack were altered. The CIA
talking points are a source of controversy because U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice
used them to describe the nature of the attack on CBS' "Face the
Nation" and other shows on Sept. 16. Republicans have attacked Rice, who
is considered a possible nominee to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of
state, for suggesting the attack was the result of spontaneous protests.
Nov. 27: U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice met with some of her harshest critics on Capitol Hill, including Sen John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to explain her initial remarks on the attack.
The meeting did not appear to resolve anything, with Graham saying he was "more disturbed now than I was before," and McCain saying he was "significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got and some that we didn't get."
In a statement released after the meeting, Rice detailed her meeting with the senators, and says she and
Director Michael Morell "explained that the talking points provided by the
intelligence community, and the initial assessment upon which they were based,
were incorrect in a key respect: there was no protest or demonstration in
"While we certainly wish that we had had perfect information just days after the terrorist attack, as is often the case, the intelligence assessment has evolved," she said. "We stressed that neither I nor anyone else in the Administration intended to mislead the American people at any stage in this process, and the Administration updated Congress and the American people as our assessments evolved."
Dec. 5: One of the only known suspects held in the attack on a
consulate in U.S.
wants any interrogation by the FBI to take place in a Tunisian judge's office
with his attorneys present, one
of his lawyers said. Libya
Ali Harzi, a Tunisian, was detained in
and extradited to Turkey
in October where authorities have said he is "strongly suspected" of
being involved in attack. Harzi has been charged with "membership of a
terrorist organization," and FBI investigators have expressed interest in
interviewing him. Tunisia
Dec. 11: It was revealed that Senators were told at a closed-door hearing before the Intelligence Committee that State Department personnel under attack on Sept. 11 at the
consulate in U.S. ,
didn't fire a single shot in their defense. Benghazi, Libya
According to a source who attended the hearing, committee chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., repeatedly pressed State Department under secretary Patrick Kennedy on whether diplomatic security agents were under instructions not to fire their weapons. Kennedy reportedly testified that no such orders were given; but he confirmed that, indeed, no shots were fired by State Department personnel.
Dec. 13: U.N. ambassador Susan Rice officially withdrew her name from consideration to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, citing in a letter to President Obama the "lengthy, disruptive and costly" nominating process she was sure to face if tapped for the job -- a disruption she argued the nation "cannot afford."
Rice, who was considered a top contender for the position, has been recently embroiled in ongoing controversy surrounding her account of
attacks, which she discussed in a series of talk show appearances on September
16. In her letter to the president today, Rice said she was
"saddened" that the position had become so politicized, but argued
Congress has more important battles to fight. Benghazi
Dec. 15: The State Dept. announced Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not testify before Congress on the
attacks anytime soon, despite previous
assurances to the contrary, because she had fainted and suffered a
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released a statement expressing concern that testimony from Thomas Nides and William Burns - the secretary's deputies who will take her place - will not be sufficient.
Dec. 18: An independent panel charged with investigating the deadly Sept. 11 attack in
that killed a Libya
ambassador and three other Americans concluded that "systemic"
management and leadership failures at the State Department led to
"grossly" inadequate security at the mission in U.S. . Benghazi
"Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for
and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place," the panel
The report (PDF) singled out the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Bureau of Near East Affairs, saying there appeared to be a lack of cooperation and confusion over protection at the mission in
Despite those failures, the Accountability Review Board determined that no individual officials ignored or violated their duties and recommended no disciplinary action now. But it also said poor performance by senior managers should be grounds for disciplinary recommendations in the future.
Dec. 19: Four State Department officials resignedafter independent review of security lapses at the U.S. Consulate in
The State Department's chief of security Eric Boswell, his deputy Charlene Lamb, an official in the Near East Division that oversees
and yet another official all resigned. Libya
Career diplomat Thomas Pickering, who ran the review board that produced the report, said: "Frankly, the State Department had not given
the security, both
physical and personnel resources, it needed." Benghazi
Dec. 20: State Department officials acknowledged that "mistakes occurred"regarding the security situation in
and pledged the department is taking immediate action to correct "systemic
problems" that may have prevented the department from preempting the
"We've learned some very hard, and painful lessons in
and all are acting on them," said William Burns, deputy secretary of
state, during testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "We
have to do better. We owe it to our colleagues who lost their lives in Benghazi ." Benghazi
Burns and Thomas Nides, deputy secretary of state for management and resources, testified before House and Senate committees about what went wrong -- and what is being done going forward to prevent similar breaches of security.
In their Senate testimonies, both Nides and Burns conceded the department's mistakes on
but stressed the hard work of officials who maintain the peace "99
percent" of the time. Benghazi