HILLARY CLINTON; HARD CHOICES: BOOK ANALYSIS. CHAPTER 17: BENGHAZI: UNDER ATACK (Where were the Libyan Security Forces?)
Hillary explains the facts behind the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Information Management Officer Sean Smith, CIA Officers Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods on September 11, 2012 at the diplomatic compound and the CIA’s nearby compound in Benghazi, Libya.
At this time there was demonstrations and attacks throughout the Muslim world as a result of a video, “Innocence of Muslims” aired on Egyptian satellite television defaming the prophet Mohammad and Islam in general. The video was made by an independent producer resident in the United States but the United States government had nothing to do with it much as the government had little control over the Florida Minister Terry Jones who threatened to burn the Koran amongst other things.
However both these incidents caused anger in the Muslim world, the video causing the worst reaction.
Benghazi is not the seat of the American Embassy which is in Tripoli but a satellite diplomatic compound guarded by diplomatic security. U.S. Marines were not stationed there because Hillary says their function was to protect or destroy Embassy documents in the event of an attack.
The video itself was aired on September 8 three days before the Benghazi attack also 9/11 was another incendiary day in the Muslim world for trouble makers and those who wished to cause unrest. Hillary says The State Department received no actionable intelligence that any diplomatic facility was in danger of an attack. However two thousand people demonstrated with black flags in Cairo outside the U.S. Embassy tearing down the U.S. Flag. They were dispersed by the Egyptian riot police and there were no casualties.
Ambassador Stevens went to Benghazi despite unrest and its history of being a hot bed of dissidents under Kaddafi which continued after his downfall in 2011 because it is a key city and a strategic one in Libya. He went there to strengthen our relations with the city. He took with him two diplomatic security officers and Sean Smith. At the time of the attack there were five Diplomatic Security agents and Stevens and Smith for a total of seven Americans at the site plus Libyan workers.
There was a larger CIA compound less than a mile away whose mission was classified but it was understood they would come to the aide of the diplomatic compound in a crisis.
About 9:40 pm an armed group of men appeared in front of the compound. They overwhelmed the guards and entered the compound. They set fires in the compound. Smith and Stevens were moved to a safe room in the main building by their security agent, Scott Stickland. Tripoli was notified of the attack.
The CIA compound prepared two vehicles to assist after the attack was underway for twenty minutes.
The building with the safe room was sprayed with diesel fuel and set fire. The heavy smoke made it difficult to breathe and the Diplomatic Security agent decided to go to the roof. In the heavy smoke Strickland made it to the roof believing Stevens and Smith were behind him. However when he reached the roof Stevens and Smith had not followed and could not be found. Scott Strickland reentered the building several times looking for Stevens and Smith but was unable to locate then and finally returned to the roof.
In the meantime the original attackers had withdrawn. This allowed three other Diplomatic Security agents to reach the main building and resuscitate Strickland.
The vehicles with the Armed CIA agents arrived and secured the compound. They searched for Stevens and Smith. They found Smith dead from smoke inhalation but no sign of Stevens. Attackers and others were still milling around in the area and after an extensive search for Stevens it was decided to evacuate the compound to the CIA compound which was better protected. They took Smith’s body with them but Stevens was still missing. The convoy back to the CIA compound itself came under attack but made it through.
The CIA compound was also under attack with men with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades but the shooting eventfully subsided and the attackers withdrew.
A call came in on Stevens cell phone that his body had been found after the attackers had left and onlookers and looters were combing the wreckage had come upon Stevens body about 1:00 a.m. He was taken to the hospital and attempts to revive him failed and at around 2:00 a.m. he was declared dead.
Reinforcements arrived from Tripoli to relieve the CIA compound which now had come under mortar attack killing Doherty and Woods.
By noon all personnel had been evacuated to Tripoli along with the bodies of the fallen.
Numerous questions arose as to why the Libyan government failed to protect the diplomatic compound as they were required to do under a diplomatic treaty previously signed by multiple nations in Vienna.
An investigation was launched led by Admiral Mullen and Tom Pickering, a retired senior foreign service officer, who made recommendations for greater security measures at all embassies.
It was found among other things that the Libyan security force had failed to protect the compound and fled leaving the compound vulnerable.
President Obama addressed the press in the Rose Garden saying “no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter the character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.” Thus he labeled the attack as a terrorist one.
Exactly who the terrorists were was not discussed in this chapter. Likewise if they were demonstrators spontaneously deciding to act in the face of the general unrest caused by the video or if they were organized group with a specific goal of attacking the compound and killing those inside. How many groups were there? It was not discussed.
No personnel were killed in the diplomatic compound by gunfire, although there was plenty, but later the CIA agents were killed by mortar attack at the CIA compound. The thesis that a group of unorganized demonstrators came first and then were supplemented by an unconnected organized group has been advanced. This theory was stated by Susan Rice the Ambassador to the United Nations based on talking points supplied by the CIA in an appearance on a television political talk show.
She was criticized in trying to cover-up an organized terrorist attack as a demonstration that got out of hand even though the President had characterized it as terrorist attack.
The dispute goes on.