A State Department conference call described the onset of the coordinated 9/11 assault on the Benghazi compound by attackers organized into at least three groups:
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…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…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.”…
the attackers, when they came through the gate, immediately torched the barracks. It is aflame…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…A third group of attackers tried to break into the TOC.
State Department’s Charlene Lamb who is in Washington:
When the attack began, a Diplomatic Security agent working in the Tactical Operations Center immediately activated the Imminent Danger Notification System and made an emergency announcement over the PA. Based on our security protocols, he also alerted the annex U.S. quick reaction security team stationed nearby, the Libyan 17th February Brigade, Embassy Tripoli, and the Diplomatic Security Command Center in Washington. From that point on, I could follow what was happening in almost real-time.
Libya is GMT+2, so State Department officials were following the attack while in their offices on the afternoon of September 11. And what was Hillary Clinton doing? State Department:
she was here very late that night. She was getting regular updates from both the DS Command Center and the senior NEA leadership in the building, she was making phone calls to senior people, and so she was obviously very much involved.
So, from mid-afternoon on 9-11, the State Department followed, in real-time, an organized assault on the Benghazi consulate by attackers who were divided into at least three groups, and the Secretary of State was very much involved. And yet here was Secretary Clinton on 9-12 talking about the YouTube video:
“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet.”
Moreover, as late as September 25, in his speech before the United Nations, the president mentioned both Ambassador Stevens and the video no fewer than seven times each.
We understand the temptation for the White House and the State Department to spin events this way. For the former it served the political narrative of the moment; for the latter it focused attention away from the appallingly bad security in Benghazi. But it was dumb. They knew too much even on the afternoon of 9-11 to think they could get away with it.