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Africa North
Benghazi: Key task force not convened during Benghazi consulate attack
2012-11-02
CBS News has learned that during the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Obama Administration did not convene its top interagency counterterrorism resource: the Counterterrorism Security Group, (CSG).
So Champ's administration ignored requests to protect our people prior to the attack, and didn't respond in any effective way during the attack. And we all know how they handled things afterwards...
"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 upon."

Counterterrorism sources and internal emails reviewed by CBS News express frustration that key responders were ready to deploy, but were not called upon to help in the attack. 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 Benghazi attack, the response effort was handled by the most senior national security officials in governments. Members of the CSG were of course involved in these meetings and discussions to support their bosses."
Sure, they were briefed. But what did they do?
Absent coordination from Counterterrorism Security Group, a senior US counterterrorism official says the response to the crisis became more confused. The official says the FBI received a call during the attack representing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and requesting agents be deployed. But he and his colleagues agreed the agents "would not make any difference without security and other enablers to get them in the country and synch their efforts with military and diplomatic efforts to maximize their success."

Another senior counter terrorism official says a hostage rescue team was alternately asked to get ready and then stand down throughout the night, as officials seemed unable to make up their minds.

A third potential responder from a counter-terror force stationed in Europe says components of AFICOM -- the military's Africa Command based in Stuttgart, Germany -- were working on course of action during the assault. But no plan was put to use.

"Forces were positioned after the fact but not much good to those that needed it," the military source told CBS News.

"The response process was isolated at the most senior level," says an official referring to top officials in the executive branch. "My fellow counterterrorism professionals and I (were) not consulted."

The official says a protocol set forth in a classified presidential directive calls for the Counterterrorism Security Group (CSG) to be convened in the event of a possible terrorist attack. According to a public military document, the directive was designed to "synchronize the efforts of all the government agencies that have a role to play in the Global War on Terrorism."

The Administration also didn't call on the only interagency, on-call, short notice team poised to respond to terrorist incidents worldwide: the Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST). FEST's seasoned experts leave within four hours of notification and can provide "the fastest assistance possible."

FEST Teams deployed immediately after al Qaeda bombings of US embassies in East Africa in 1998, and the USS Cole in 2000, but were not used for Benghazi, to the chagrin of some insiders. It's likely that the CSG task force, if contacted, would have recommended FEST aid.

"First a tactical response was needed," says a senior U.S. counterterrorism official, "and while that was being implemented, the holistic response could have been developed and deployed within hours" which could have allowed the FBI investigate safely on site well ahead of the "24 days it took."

When asked why the FEST wasn't utilized, a State Department official said it was used previously in East Africa because of damage sustained to a US embassy "to help restore communications and other infrastructure support. In this case, that was unnecessary at Embassy Tripoli."
Of course it was unnecessary in Tripoli. The attack was in Benghazi.
A White House official told us that at the start of the attack, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta "looked at available options, and the ones we exercised had our military forces arrive in less than 24 hours, well ahead of timelines laid out in established policies." He also said a "small group of reinforcements" was sent from Tripoli to Benghazi, but declined to say how many or what time they arrived. The Pentagon moved a team of special operators from central Europe to Sigonella, Italy but gave no other details.

Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans died in a protracted battle over the course of eight hours. It's believed two of the victims, Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, died in a mortar attack some six or seven hours after the US Mission was first overrun by a terrorist mob that burned buildings and used AK-47 rifles, bombs, and mortars.
Posted by:Steve White

#7  I am SO with you Ebbang.
Posted by: warthogswife   2012-11-02 14:19  

#6  ^^^ This.
Posted by: RandomJD   2012-11-02 12:22  

#5  A conscience decision has been made to systematically leak bits and pieces of information to the media over time to diffuse and wear down the issue.

They are certainly wearing me down. I think we all know by now that the response during the attack and the security that was in place before the attack were both inadequate.

But the lack of MFM coverage makes me feel like I'm some kind of isolated right wing whacko because I'm seething about it but nobody else seems to care. Benghazi should be the lead story in all of the media every day (OK, Sandy was a big story, but still). There should be a nationwide outrage and Champ's poll numbers should be plummeting but it's not happening. Nobody talks about it. Nobody cares. I get tired of feeling that way. I wanna be normal. But all I can do is vote next Tuesday.
Posted by: Ebbang Uluque6305   2012-11-02 12:20  

#4  I gather that 23 of the 30 people evacuated from the "consulate" in Benghazi were CIA folks working under dipomatic cover. Is it possible that there was confusion or conflict between State and CIA over whose turf it was - over which agency had primary responsibility to secure and respond?

Yet - CIA says they did everything possible, and Hillary took responsibility. But it's kinda like the Administration doesn't want anyone asking why two dozen CIA people and the US ambassdor himself set up shop in a nondescript villa in AQ territory in the first place. As more details drip out, I am increasingly curious what they were all doing there.

I am somewhat hopeful that we'll get to the bottom of this. Four US agents are dead and Ogabe has been a dick about it. Their colleagues, their families, and a number of senators are angry. The first group is, I presume, where all the leaked emails and cables are coming from, which I expect to continue so long as the Administration continues stonewalling.
Posted by: RandomJD   2012-11-02 11:51  

#3  A conscience decision was made early in the crisis to execute a CIA adhoc self-extraction vs classic off-the-shelf professional In-Extemis NEO evacuation.

A conscience decision was made to link a video of Allah to the event as a cause and cover for action.

A conscience decision has been made to systematically leak bits and pieces of information to the media over time to diffuse and wear down the issue.

A conscience decision will soon be made to site "National Security Concerns" and lower the cone of silence.

I am not hopefull anything will come of this.

Posted by: Besoeker   2012-11-02 10:14  

#2  The key task force will be convened after Nov. 6th.
Posted by: JohnQC   2012-11-02 10:00  

#1  The big question. Hussein has Panetta, Hillary, Holder and almost half of Congress in his back pocket.

What do you say are the viable options to bring out the answers and hold people, even him accountable?
Posted by: Bugs Uleger6376   2012-11-02 02:10  

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