Drones were circling above U.S. consulate during Libya attack but officials decided NOT to mount a rescue mission

  • U.S.  Ambassador Christopher Stevens repeatedly pleaded with the State Department for  additional security personnel
  • Republicans  say the Obama administration denied the request for political reasons
  • The White  House says it had no role in procuring security detail for Stevens

By Hayley Peterson and Jill Reilly

PUBLISHED:10:01 EST, 19  October 2012| UPDATED:12:49 EST, 20 October 2012

American drones were in the skies above the  U.S. consulate in Benghazi as the deadly attack that killed ambassador  Christopher Stevens unfolded, it has been revealed.

Defense department officials considered  sending troops in to rescue the ambassador and staff, according to CBS News, but  ultimately decided not to .

They would haven been able to watch the  attack on-screen as it unfolded.

The revalations came a day after it emerged  that U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens repeatedly pleaded with the State  Department to ramp up his security team in Libya — requests that the Pentagon  ultimately denied — in the weeks, days and hours leading up to the terrorist  attack that killed him and three other Americans, newly released cables have  revealed.

Stevens, who was killed in the 11 September  attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, warned the State Department of a  ‘security vacuum’ in Libya ‘that is being exploited by independent actors’ in  one cable that described rapidly deteriorating security  conditions.

‘Islamic extremists are able to attack the  Red Cross with impunity,’ he wrote. ‘What we have seen are not random crimes of  opportunity but rather targeted discriminate attacks.’

Revelations: Washington was told within 24 hours of last month's deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate that there was evidence it was carried out by militants, not a spontaneous mob upset about ridiculing Islam's Prophet MuhammadRevelations: Washington was told within 24 hours of last  month’s deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate that there was evidence it was  carried out by militants, not a spontaneous mob upset about ridiculing Islam’s  Prophet Muhammad
Knowledge: It is unclear who, if anyone, saw the cable outside the CIA at that point and how high up in the agency the information wentKnowledge: It is unclear who, if anyone, saw the cable  outside the CIA at that point and how high up in the agency the information  went

Stevens said the attackers would not be  deterred ‘until authorities are at least as capable.’

Just hours before his death, he sent  the  Pentagon a cable describing ‘expanding Islamist influence in Dema,’ a town east  of Benghazi, and said he was seeing a ‘troubling increase in  violence and  Islamist influence.’

Stevens recapped a meeting in which  the  commander of Benghazi’s Supreme Security Council told him there is  ‘growing  frustration with police and security forces.’

The cables were released by  Republican Rep.  Darrell Issa of California, the chairman of the U.S.  House Oversight and  Government Reform Committee, which is investigating  the security matters  surrounding Stevens’ death and questioning whether  the State Department could  have prevented the deadly attack.

Less than three weeks ahead of the  presidential election, Republicans are using the cables to attack  President  Obama on his foreign policy, despite the State Department’s  claim that it was  solely responsible for the decisions to deny Stevens’  requests for more  security in Libya.

‘These critical foreign policy decisions are  not made by low or  mid-level career officials — they are typically made  through a  structured and well-reasoned process that includes the National  Security Council and the White House,’ Issa wrote in a letter to Obama on  Friday.

The letter claims that Obama had a  political  motivation in rejecting Stevens’ security requests, since the  president was  eager to show improving conditions in Libya after the  U.S.-led international  operation that toppled Libya dictator Moamar  Gadhafi.

On Aug. 2, six weeks before Stevens  was  killed, he requested ‘protective detail bodyguard’ positions,  calling the  security situation in Libya ‘unpredictable, volatile and  violent.’

A month earlier, he requested that  the State  Department extend his tour of duty personnel, which is a  16-man temporary  security team trained in combating terrorism. The  request was denied and the  security team left 8 August.

Stevens had asked for the security team to  stay through mid-September.

Colonel Andrew Wood, the leader of  the  security team that left Libya in the weeks before the terror attack, told CBS  News that Stevens fought hard against losing the team.

‘It was quite a degree of frustration on  their part,’ he said. ‘They were — I guess you could say —  clenched-fist over  the whole issue.

At loggerheads: The Obama administration's handling of the aftermath of the Benghazi attack came to the fore during Tuesday's second presidential campaign debateQuestions: In their debate on Tuesday, President Barack  Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney argued over when Obama first said it  was a terror attack

The White House maintained publicly for a  week that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya was a spontaneous mob upset about an anti-Islam video, even though it has now been  revealed that they were informed within 24 hours of the attack  that it was  planned and carried out by militants.

‘Your administration has not been  straightforward with the American people in the aftermath of the  attack,’ Issa  wrote in his letter to Obama.

In his Rose Garden address the morning after  the killings, Obama said, ‘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.’

But Republicans say he was speaking generally  and didn’t specifically call  the Benghazi attack a terror attack until weeks  later, with the  president and other key members of his administration referring  at first to the anti-Muslim movie circulating on the Internet as a precipitating event.

Last week, the State Department said  that it  never believed the 11 September attack on the U.S. consulate was the result of a  protest over an anti-Islam movie, contradicting  previous statements.

Inferno: Armed attackers dumped cans of diesel fuel and set ablaze the consulate's exteriorInferno: Armed attackers dumped cans of diesel fuel and  set ablaze the consulate’s exterior
Siege: The compound came under heavy mortar and gunfire during the attack, which lasted several hours Siege: The compound came under heavy mortar and gunfire  during the attack, which lasted several hours

The White House now says the attack  probably  was carried out by an al Qaida-linked group, with no public  demonstration  beforehand. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton  blamed the ‘fog of war’  for the early conflicting accounts.

Issa’s committee questioned State  Department  officials for hours about what Republican lawmakers said was  lax security at  the consulate, given the growth of extremist Islamic  militants in North  Africa.

Congressional aides are hoping to use Stevens’ cables and information from State Department testimonies to  build a  timeline of what the intelligence community knew, compared to what the White  House was telling the public about the attack. That could give Romney  ammunition to use in his foreign policy debate with Obama on Monday  night.

Reports have revealed that the CIA station  chief in Libya compiled an intelligence briefing from eyewitnesses within 24 hours of the assault on the consulate that indicated militants launched the  violence.

The briefing from the station chief was written late Wednesday, 12 September and reached intelligence agencies in  Washington the next day, intelligence officials said.

Yet on Saturday of that week, briefing points  sent by the CIA to Congress  said ‘demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously  inspired by the  protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct  assault.’

The briefing  points, obtained by the AP,  added: ‘There are indications that  extremists participated in the violent  demonstrations’ but did not  mention eyewitness accounts that blamed militants  alone.

Such raw intelligence reports by the CIA on  the ground would normally be  sent first to analysts at the headquarters in  Langley, Virginia, for  vetting and comparing against other intelligence derived  from  eavesdropping drones and satellite images.

Only then would such intelligence  generally  be shared with the White House and later, Congress, a process  that can take  hours, or days if the intelligence is coming only from one or two sources who  may or may not be trusted.

U.S. intelligence officials say in this case  the delay was due in part to  the time it took to analyze various conflicting  accounts.

One official, speaking on condition  of  anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the incident  publicly,  explained that ‘it was clear a group of people gathered that  evening’ in  Benghazi, but that the early question was ‘whether extremists took over a crowd  or they were the crowd.’

But that explanation has been met with  concern in Congress.

Flames, grenades and gunfire: A burnt-out car in front of the U.S. consulateFlames, grenades and gunfire: A burnt-out car in front  of the U.S. consulate

‘The early sense from the intelligence  community differs from what we are hearing now,’ Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff  said. ‘It ended up being pretty far afield, so we want to figure out why …  though we don’t want to deter the intelligence community from sharing their best  first impressions’ after such events in the future.

‘The intelligence briefings we got a week to  10 days after were consistent with what the administration was saying,’said Rep.  William Thornberry, a member of the House Intelligence and Armed Services  committees.

Thornberry would not confirm the existence  of the early CIA report but voiced skepticism over how sure intelligence  officials, including CIA Director David Petraeus, seemed of their original  account when they briefed lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

‘How could they be so certain immediately  after such events, I just don’t know,’he said. ‘That raises suspicions that  there was political motivation.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2220153/Christopher-Stevens-Ambassador-pleaded-extra-security-Libya-hours-killed.html#ixzz29uy5q3px Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Categories: Benghazi, Intelligence Gathering, M.I.C.E., Misc...., Petraeus Compromise, Security, Societal, Strange Behavior - Of Leadership Roles

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