Senate Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi attack

This bipartisan report lays out more than a dozen findings regarding the Sept. 11, 2012, assault on the diplomatic compound in the Libyan city of Benghazi. Read more about the report

LLIGE REVIEW
of the
TERRORIST ATTACKS ON U.S. FACILITIES
IN BENGHAZI, LIBYA, SEPTEMBER 11-12,2012
together with
ADDITIONAL VIEWS

January 15, 2014

SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE
United States Senate
113 th Congress

SSCI Review of the Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi,
Libya, September 11-12, 2012
I. PURPOSE OF TIDS REPORT
The purpose of this report is to review the September 11-12, 2012, terrorist
attacks against two U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya. This review by the Senate
Select Committee on Intelligence (hereinafter "SSCI" or "the Committee") focuses
primarily on the analy~is by and actions of the Intelligence Community (IC)
leading up to, during, and immediately following the attacks. The report also
addresses, as appropriate, other issues about the attacks as they relate to the
Department ofDefense (DoD) and Department of State (State or State
Department).
It is important to acknowledge at the outset that diplomacy and intelligence

collection are inherently risky, and that all risk cannot be eliminated. Diplomatic
and intelligence personnel work in high-risk locations all over the world to collect
information necessary to prevent future attacks against the United States and our
allies. Between 1998 (the year of the terrorist attacks against the U.S. Embassies
in Kenya and Tanzania) and 2012, 273 significant attacks were carried out against
U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel. 1 The need to place personnel in high-risk
locations carries significant vulnerabilities for the United States. The Conimittee
intends for this report to help increase security and reduce the risks to our
personnel serving overseas and to better explain what happened before, during, and
after the attacks.

II. THE COMMITTEE'S REVIEW2
Hearings, Briefings, and Meetings: The Committee began its initial review
ofthe September 11, 2012, terrorist attacks against the U.S facilities in Benghazi,
Libya, on September 13, 2012, which transitioned into a formal review a few
1

U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Significant Attacks Against U.S. Diplomatic Facilities
and Personnel, /998-2012, revised July 2013. This report also states on page i: "This information is not an allinclusive compilation; rather, it is a reasonably comprehensive listing of significant attacks."
2
The Committee notes that the IC, Suite, and DoD provided the Committee with hundreds of key documents
throughout this review, although sometimes with a significant amount of resistance, especially from State. This lack
of cooperation unnecessarily hampered the Committee's review.

weeks later. This report and our findings and recommendations are based upon the
extensive work conducted by Committee M~mbers and staff during this review,
including the following hearings, briefings, and meetings (which included
interviews of U.S. personnel on the ground during the attacks):
• Three Committee oversight hearings with witnesses from the Office of
the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), National Counterterrorism
Center (NCTC), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI), State, and DoD;
• Two Committee briefings with David Petraeus--one while he was CIA
Director and one after his resignation;
• Three Committee briefmgs with Robert Litt, ODNI General Counsel,
regarding the issue of the CIA Talking Points;
• Four on-the record Member and staff meetings with:
1. Gregory Hicks, Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) in Tripoli during the
attacks· 3
'
2. Mark Thompson, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for
Counterterrorism at the State Department;
3. Eric Nordstrom, former Regional Security Officer (RSO) in Libya;
and
4. the former CIA Chief of Base in Benghazi who was at the Annex on

the night of the- attacks; and
• _At least 17 other staffbriefings and meetings, including interviews of
U.S. Government security personnel on the ground in Benghazi the night
of the attacks.

3

Mr. Hicks met with Committee 'staff, without Senators, in a follow-up session. See SSCI Transcript, Staff

Interview ofGregory Hicks, June 19,2003.

2

Documents and Video Reviewed: The Committee reviewed: ( 1) thousands
of intelligence reports and internal documents (including e-mails, cables, etc.)
which were provided by the IC, the State Department, and DoD; (2) written
responses to Committee questions for the record; (3) numerous open-source
materials; and (4) surveillance videos related to the attacks.

III. DESCRIPTION OF THE SEPTEMBER 11-12,2012, ATTACKS
The sequence of events in Benghazi on the night of September 11, 20 12, and
the morning of September 12, 2012, have been widely described in media and
other reports. There were effectively at least three different attacks against U.S.
facilities in fewer than eight hours. Understanding the evolution and the sequence
of attacks is important to provide the context in which Americans in Benghazi and
Tripoli and U.S. officials in Washington, D.C., evaluated events as they unfolded
and fotrnulated operational and policy responses. Below are the key details about
the three attacks.
1. Attack on the U.S. Temporary Mission Facility at Approximately 9:40p.m.
At approximately 9:40p.m. Benghazi time, on September 11, 2012, dozens
of attackers easily gained access to the U.S. Temporary Mission Facility
(hereinafter "the TMF," "the Mission facility," or "the Mission compound") by
scaling and then opening the front vehicle gate. 4 Over the course ofthe entire
attack on the TMF, at least 60 different attackers entered the U.S. compound and
can be seen on the surveillance video recovered from the Mission facility. 5 The
attackers moved unimpeded throughout the compound, entering and exiting
buildings at wiJl.
After entering the Mission facility, the attackers used diesel fuel to set fire to
the barracks/guard house of the Libyan 17tlt February Brigade militia, which served
as a security force provided by the host nation for the Mission compound, and then
proceeded towards the main buildings of the compound. 6 A Diplomatic Security
(DS) agent working in the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) of the Mission
4

SSCI Transcript, Hearing on the Attacks in Benghazi, November 15,2012, p. 24.
James R. Clapper, Director ofNational Intelligence, Joint Statement for the Record, SSCI Hearing on the Attacks
in Benghazi, November 15, 2012, p. 3.
6
Ibid.
5

-

.

-

- --- -

-

-

---------

3

-

- --

facility immediately activated the Imminent Danger Notification System. 7 He also
alerted the CIA personnel stationed at the nearby CIA Annex (hereinafter "the
Annex"), the Libyan 17th February Brigade, the U.S. Embassy in Trifoli, and the
Diplomatic Security Command Center (DSCC) in Washington, D.C.
There were five DS agents at the Mission compound that night. Two had
traveled from Tripoli with U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens (who
was staying at the Mission compound in Benghazi), and three others were assigned
to the Mission facility. In addition to the five DS agents on duty, there were three
armed members of the Libyan 17th February Brigade militia, three Libyan National
Police officers, and five unatrned members of a local security team comracted
through a British company, Blue Mountain Group, who were guarding the Mission
facility that night. In addition, six armed CIA security personnel (plus an
interpreter) operating out of the nearby Annex were able to respond quickly after
receiving word of the attack.
After the DS agent in the Tactical Operations Center at the Temporary
Mission Facility alerted the Annex security team that
TMF was under attack at
9:40
, the Chief of Base called the
"who advised that he would immediately deploy a
force to provide assistance," according to a September 19, 2012, cable
that provided the joint CIA Station/Base report on the events surrounding the
September 11-12 attacks. 9
Two armored vehicles were prepared so the security team could respond
from the Annex. Approximately 20-25 minutes after the first call came into the
Annex that the Temporary Mission Facility was under attack, a security team left
the Annex for the Mission compound. In footage taken from the Annex's security
cameras, the security team can be observed departing the CIA Annex at 10:03 p.m.
Benghazi time. During the period between approximately 9:40 p.m. and 10:03
p.m. Benghazi time, the Chief of Base and security team members attempted to
secure assistance and heavy weapons (such as .50 caliber truck-mounted machine
guns) from the 17th February Brigade and other militias that had been assisting the
United States. 10 Then, the team drove to the Mission facility and made their way
7

NCTC and FBI, The 11-12 September Attacks on US Facilities in Benghazi, November 13, 2012, p. 3.
Ibid.
9
E-mail from
"Fw: Subject: Eyes Only- Tripoli Station and Benghazi Base
Report on Events of 11-12 September," containing CIA TRIPOLI 27900, September 19,2012, p. 2.
1
°Classified Report of the Department of State Accountability Review Board (ARB), December 18,2012, p. 27.

8

4

onto the Mission compound in the face of enemy fire, arriving in the vicinity of the
compound at approximately 10: 10 p.m. Benghazi time. 11 The Committee explored
claims that there was a "stand down" order given to the security team at the Annex.
Although some members of the security team expressed frustration that they were
unable to respond more quickly to the Mission compound, 12 the Committee found
no evidence of intentional delay or obstruction by the Chief of Base or any other
party.l3
Meanwhile, aDS agent secured Ambassador Stevens and State Department
Information Management Officer Sean Smith in the "safe area" of the main
building of the Mission facility (Building C). The attackers used diesel fuel to set
the main building ablaze and thick smoke rapidly filled the entire structure.
According to testimony of the Director of the NCTC, the DS agent began leading
the Ambassador and Mr. Smith toward the emergency escape window to escape
the smoke. 14 Nearing unconsciousness himself, the agent opened the emergency
escape window and crawled out. He then realized he had become separated from
the Ambassador and Sean Smith in the smoke, so he reentered and searched the
building multiple times. 15 The DS agent, suffering from severe smoke inhalation,
climbed a ladder to the roof where he radioed the other DS agents for assistance
and attempted unsuccessfully to ventilate the building by breaking a skylight. 16
Other DS agents went to retrieve their M-4 carbine assault rifles from
Building B when the attack began. When they attempted to return to the main
building (Building C) to help protect the Ambassador, they encountered armed
attackers and decided to return to Building B to take cover rather than open fire.
They eventually regrouped, made their way to a nearby armored vehicle, and then
drove over to assist the agent on the roof of Building C searching for the
11

NCTC and FBI, The 11-12 September Attacks on US Facilities in Benghazi, November 13,2012, p. 4; E-mail
from CIA Office of Congressional Affairs (OCA) staff to Staff Director, House Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence (HPSCI), et al., "Background Points used on 1 Nov," November 2, 2012, p. 1.
12
SSCI Memorandum for the Record, "Staff Briefing and Secure Video Teleconference (SVTC) with CIA Benghazi
Survivors," June 27, 2013.
13
According to informal notes obtained from the CIA, the security team left for the .
without the formal
~f the Chief of Base, see attachments to e-mail from CIA staff
to CIA s t a f f . - , September 23, 2012. However, a Memorandum for the Record prepared by the Deputy Chief of Base
specifically states that the Chief"authorized the move" and the Chief told the Committee: "We launched ()UT
[Quick Reaction Force] as soon as possible down to the State [Department] compound."
Memorandum for the Record, "Events of 11-12 SEP 2012 at Benghazi Base, Libya," September 19,2012, p. 1; and
SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff Interview offormer Chief of Base, December 20, 2012, p. 3.
14
SSCI Transcript, Hearing on the Attacks in Benghazi, November 15,2012, pp. 27-29.
15
NCTC and FBI, the 11-12 September Attacks on US Facilities in Benghazi, November 13,2012, p. 4.
16
Unclassified Report ofthe ARB, December 18,2012, p. 22.

5

Ambassador and Mr. Smith. After numerous attempts, they found Mr. Smith, who
was deceased. 17 The DS agents did not fire a single shot that night during the
attack on the Temporary Mission Facility, according to testimony before the
Committee. 18
Outside the compound, the security team asked 17th February Brigade
members to "provide cover" for them to advance to the gate of the Temporary
Mission Facility with gun trucks. The 1th February Brigade members refused,
saying they preferred to negotiate with the attackers instead. Eventually, the
security team initiated their plan of assault on the Mission compound. Some
members of the 17th February Brigade "jump[ed] into the vehicle" and "a few 17
Feb members follow[ed] behind on foot to support the team/' according to the
informal CIA notes provided to the Cornmittee.19
When the security team from the Annex arrived on the grounds of the
. fire with the attackers." 20 The CIA
Mission facility, "the qfflc;~r~ .
team carried

After pushing
jomed in the search for the Ambassador.
At approximately 11: 10 p.m. Benghazi time, an unarmed, unmanned DoD
Predator stirveillance aircraft, which had been diverted approximately one hour
earlier by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) from another intelligence collection
mission in eastern Libya, arrived over the Mission compound and soon after
17

Charlene Lamb, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Programs, Bureau of Diplomatic Security,
U.S. Department of State, Statement for the Record, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
(HOGR), Hearing on the Security Failures of Benghazi, October 10, 4012, p. 6.
18
SSCI Transcript, Hearing on Security Issues at Benghazi and Threats to U.S. Intelligence and Diplomatic
Personne/.and Facilities Worldwide Since the Attacks, December 4; 2012, p. 67. However, on page 47 of its
classified report, the ARB concluded: "While none of the five DS agents discharged theirweapons, the Board
concluded that this was a sound tactical decision, given the overwhelming degree to which they were outgunned and
outnumbered: A decision to discharge their weapons may well have resulted in more American deaths that night,
without saving lives. The multiple trips that DS agents and Annex security team members made into a burning,
smoke-filled building showed readiness to risk life and limb to save
"
19
See attachments to e-mail from CIA staff
to CIA staff
September 23, 2012.
2
CIA TRIPOL-I 27900, September 19,2012, p. 3.
21
SSCI Transcript, Benghazi Follow Up with Staff, May 22, 2013, p. 72.

°

-

---

-

6

-

------

-

-

detected a roadblock several blocks east of the Mission facility. 22 During this time,
State and CIA personnel re-entered the burning compound numerous times in an
attempt to locate Ambassador Stevens, but to no avail. Under the impression that
the Ambassador "had already been taken from that compound and that he'd been
kidnapped," the leader of the Annex security team decided that U.S. personnel
needed to evacuate to the Annex for their safety. 23 DS special agents agreed with
the decision to evacuate.
Together, CIA and DS security personnel made a fmal search for the
24
Ambassador before leaving for the Annex in two separate armored vehicles. One
vehicle encountered heavy fire as it ran a roadblock several blocks east of the
Mission compound. 25 Both vehicles were eventually able to make their way to the
Annex, which was approximately two kilometers away. By approximately 11 :30
p.m. Benghazi time, all U.S. personnel, except for the missing Ambassador, had
departed the Mission compound. 26 Mr. Smith's remains were also taken to the
Annex.
2. Attack on the CIA Annex from Approximately 11 :56 p.m. until 1:00 a.m.
The U.S. personnel evacuating the Mission facility were followed by some
of the attackers to the CIA Annex nearby. 27 Although officially under cover, the
Annex was known by some in Benghazi as an American facility. At
approximately 11 :56 p.m. Benghazi time, sporadic arms fire and rocket-propelled
28
grenades (RPGs) were fired at the Annex. Over the next hour, the Annex took
sporadic small arms fire and RPG rounds, the security team returned fire, and the
attackers dispersed. 29 It is likely U.S. personnel injured or possibly killed some of
the attackers during the exchange of fire. "[T]hey probably took casualties. I'm
quite sure they took casualties," according to the Chief ofBase. 30

22

DoD, Timeline of Department of Defense Actions on September 11-12, 2012, April 1, 2013, p. I.
SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff1nterview offormer Chief of Base, December 20,2012, p. 5; SSCI Transcript,
Hearing on the Attacks in Benghazi, November 15,2012, p. 35.
24
HOGR Transcript, Hearing on the Security Failures of Benghazi, October 10, 2012, p. 32; NCTC and FBI, The
11-12 September Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, November 13, 2012, pp. 4-5.
25
SSCI Transcript, Hearing on the Attacks in Benghazi, November 15,2012, p. 35.
26
NCTC and FBI, The 11-12 September Attacks on US Facilities in Benghazi, November 13, 2012, p. 5.
27
SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff Interview offormer Chief of Base, December 20, 2012, p. 60.
28
NCTC and FBI, The 11-12 September Attacks on US Facilities in Benghazi, November 13, 2012, p. 5.
29
E-mail from CIA OCA staff to Staff Director, HPSCI, et al., "Background Points used on 1 Nov," November 2,
2012, p. 1.
30
SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff Interview offormer Chief of Base, December 20, 2012, p. 61.
23

7

At approximately 1: 15 a.m. Benghazi time, a seven-man reinforcement team
of additional U.S. security personnel from Tripoli landed at the Benghazi airport
and began to negotiate with the local Libyan militias for transportation and a
security convoy. 31 Upon learning Ambassador Stevens was still missing and that
the situation at the Annex had calmed, the team focused on locating the
Ambassador and trying to obtain information on the security situation at the
Benghazi Medical Center where he was said to be. 32 An individual at the hospital
made calls from the Ambassador's cell phone to numbers stored in the phone,
including to some numbers in Tripoli and to one of the RSOs. After an exchange
of calls between the individual in possession of Stevens's phone and some of the
Americans, the Americans becaine concerned that the caller could be luring U.S.
personnel into an ambush at the hospital and concluded it was too risky to go to the
hospital.
After more than three hours of negotiations and communications with
Libyan officials who expressed concern about the security situation at the hospital,
the Libyan government arranged. for the Libyan Shield Militia to provide
transportation and an armed escort from the airport. 33 After learning that
Ambassador Stevens was almost certainly dead and that the security situation at
the hospital was uncertain, the team opted to go to the Annex to support the other
34
U.S. personrtel. The security team from Tripoli departed the airport for the
Annex at approximately 4:30a.m. Benghazi time. 35
3. Attack on the CIA Annex at Approximately 5: 15 a.m.
At approximately 5:00 a.m. ]3enghazi time, the security team from Tripoli
arrived at the Annex just moments before the third attack that night. At
approximately 5: 15 a.m. Benghazi time, mortar rounds began to hit the Annex.
Two security officers, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, were killed when they
took direct mortar fire as they engaged the enemy from the roof of the Annex. 36
The mortar fire also seriously injured one other security officer and one DS special
31

NCTC and FBI, The 11-12 September Attacks on US Facilities in Benghazi, November 13,2012, p. 6.
E-mail from CIA OCA staffto Staff Director, HPSCI, et al., "Background Points used on 1 Nov," November 2,
2012, p. I.
33
SSCI Transcript, Benghazi Follow Up with Staff, May 22,2013, p. 34.
34
E-mail from CIA OCA staff to Staff Director, HPSCI, et al., "Background Points used on I Nov," November 2,
2012, p. I.
35
SSCI Transcript, Benghazi Follow Up with Staff, May 22, 2013, p. 34.
36
NCTC and FBI, The j 1-12 September Attacks on US Facilities in Benghazi, November 13, 2012, p. 6.
32

8

agent, necessitating the evacuation of the Annex. 37 That attack lasted only 11
minutes, then dissipated. 38 The mortar fire was particularly accurate,
demonstrating a lethal capability and sophistication that changed the dynamic on
the ground that night. According to testimony by the Chief of Base, it was only
after this third wave of attacks, when the mortars hit, that he decided it was
necessary to evacuate the personnel from the Annex. 39
Less than a.n hour later, a heavily-armed Libyan militia unit arrived to help
evacuate the Annex of all U.S. personnel to the airport. The Ambassador's body,
which had been secured by a local Libyan coordinating with the State Department,
was also transported from the Benghazi Medical Center to the airport. By
approximately 10:00 a.m. Benghazi time, all U.S. personnel and the bodies of the
fol.lr dead Americans departed from Benghazi to Tripoli. 40

IV. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Warnings Before the Attacks and Failures to Provide Security
---

·-

-

FINDING #1: In the months before the attacks on September 11,2012, the IC
provided ample strategic warning that the security situatiol) in ea$t~tll LibY3was deteri()rating and that tJ~S. facilities and personnel were at risk,:in
~Q~ngJJazi~ _ __ __ _ ____ __ _ _ _
~
The IC produced hundreds of analytic reports in the months preceding the
September 11-12, 2012, attacks, providing strategic warning that militias and
terrorist and affiliated groups had the capability and intent to strike U.S. and
Western facilities and personnel in Libya. For example:
• On June 12, 2012, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) produced a report
entitled, "Libya: Terrorists Now Targeting U.S. and Western Interests." The
report noted recent attacks against the U.S. Mission compound in Benghazi,
-

-

37 SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff Interview offormer Chief of Base, December 20, 2012, p. 42.
38

E-mail from CIA OCA staffto Staff Director, HPSCI, et al., "Background Points used on 1 Nov," November 2,
2012, p. I.
39
SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff Interview offormer Chief of Base, December 20, 20 12, p. 42, in which the
Chief of Base said: "Until the mortar attack, we were pretty comfortable that we could stave off any type of ground
assault on the Annex."
40
NCTC and FBI, The 11-12 September Attacks on US Facilities in Benghazi, November 13,2012, p. 7.

9

·----

-

-

- -

-

- --

-

--

-

---

-

--

-

the growing ties between al-Qa'ida (AQ) regional nodes and Libya-based
,.~ ....·nr,·
expect more anti-U.S. terrorist attacks in eastern
due to the terrorists' greater presence
terrorists conducting more ambush and lED
attacks as well as more threats against
,4)

• On June 18, 2012, the Pentagon's Joint Staff produced a slide in its daily
intelligence report entitled, "(U) Terrorism: Conditions Ripe for More
Attacks, Terrorist Safe Haven in Libya." In the slide, the Joint Staff
assessed:
support will increase Libyan terrorist capability in
the permissive post-revolution security environment. Attacks will also
increase in nt~mber and lethality as terrorists connect with AQ associates in
Libya. Areas of eastern
will
become a safe haven by the end of

• On July 6, 2012, CIA produced a report entitled, "Libya: Al-Qa'ida
Establishing Sanctuary." In the report, CIA stated: "AI-Qa'ida-affiliated
groups and associates are exploiting the permissive security environment in
Libya to enhance their capabilities and expand their operational reach. This
year, Muhammad Jamal's Egypt-based network, al-Qa'ida in the Arabian
Peninsula (AQAP), and ai-Qa'ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb
(AQIM) have conducted training, built communication networks, and
41

DIA, "Libya: Terrorists Now Targeting U.S. and Western Interests," Defense Intelligence Report, June 12, 2012.
Joint Staff, "Terrorism: Conditions Ripe for More Attacks, Terrorist Safe Haven in Libya," J-2 Intelligence
Update, June 18,2012.
43
Q'i.u:!lu
released
44
OIA,
"Defense Intelligence
Digest, July 2, 2012.
42

10

facilitated extremist travel across North Africa from their safe haven in parts
of eastern Libya." 45
• On August 19, 2012, the Pentagon's Joint Staff produced a slide in its daily
intelligence report entitled, "(U) Libya: Terrorists to Increase Strength
During Next Six Months." In the slide, the Joint Staff stated: "There are no
near-term prospects for a reversal in the trend towards a terrorist safe haven
in Libya, and areas of eastern Libya will likely become a broader safe haven
by the end of 2012. The conditions in Libya will allow terrorists to increase
attacks against Western and Libyan interests in the country, as well as
attempt attacks in the region and possibly Europe in the next six moilths." 46
• On September 5, 2012, AFRICOM produced a Theater Analysis Report
entitled, "(U) Libya: Extremism in Li
and Future." The
report contained a map showing how
are actively
exploiting the open operating environment in Libya." (The map is located in
Appendix IV of this report). The report also noted: "Disarray in Libya's
security services, and a likely focus by authorities on pursuit of Qadhafi
loyalists is likely allowing jihadists in Libya freedom to recruit, train, and
facilitate the movement of fighters and weapons. The threat to Western and
U.S. interests and individuals remains high, particularly in northeastLibya."47
2012, DIA produced ~ .-o"r""
' that stated:

FINDING #2: The State Departmegt should have increased its security .
posture more significantly in Benghazi based on the deteriorating security
sltu~tion on the ground and IC threat re~orting on the ·P-rior attack$ against
45

CIA, "Libya: AI-Qa'ida Establishing Sanctuary," WIRe, July 6, 2012.
Joint Staff, "Libya: Terrorists to Increase Strength During Next Six Months," J-2 Intelligence Update, August 19,
2012.
47
United States Africa Command, "Libya: Extremism in Libya Past, Present, and Future," United States Africa
5, 2012.
Command Theater
48
·
DIA,
"Defense Intelligence Digest, September 7, 2012.
46

II

West~tners

in Bengha~i-i~cluding two incidents at the Temporary Mission
Facility on April 6 and June 6, 2012.
State Department officials, including Ambassador Stevens, were aware of,
and had regular access to, threat reporting on Libya. According to DCM Greg
Hicks, he and Ambassador Stevens
read the ·
·
of
the ClA and communicated with the
and
other intelligence officials on a daily basts. As part of this regular interaction, the
Ambassador was provided with an intelligence "read book," which would include
information on the security situation and terrorism issues. The read book was also
supplied to the Embassy's RS0. 50
As the Accountability Review Board found, there were at least 20 security
incidents involving the Temporary Mission Facility, international organizations,
non-governmental organizations, and third-country nationals and diplomats in the
Benghazi area in the months leading up to the September 11, 20 12, attacks. 51 The
49
50

51

SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff Interview of Gregory Hicks and Mark Thompson, June 12,2013, p. 39.
SSCI Transcript, Benghazi Follow Up with Staff, May 22,2013, p. 36.
The 20 security incidents detailed in the unclassified report of the ARB on pages 15-16 are as follows:
o
March 18, 2012-Anned robbery occurs at the British School in Benghazi.

March 22, 2012-Members of a militia searching for a suspect fire their weapons near the U.S. Mission
and attempt to enter.
• April 2, 2012-A British armored diplomatic vehicle is attacked after driving into a local protest; the
vehicle was damaged but occupants uninjured.
• April6, 2012-A gelatina bomb or "fish bomb" (traditional homemade explosive device used for fishing)
is thrown over the Temporary Mission Facility's north wall.
• April 10, 2012-An lED (gelatina or dynamite stick) is thrown at the motorcade ofthe United Nations
(UN) Special Envoy to Libya in Benghazi.
o
April26, 2012-The principal officer ofthe U.S. Mission is evacuated from the International Medical
University (IMU) after a fistfight escalated to gunfire between Tripoli-based trade delegation security
personnel and IMU security.
• April27, 2012-Two South African nationals in Libya as part of a U.S.-funded weapons abatement,
unexploded ordnance removal, and demining project are detained at gunpoint by militia, questioned, and
released.

May 22, 2012-Benghazi-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) building is struck by
RPGs.
• May 28, 2012-A previously unknown organization, Omar Abdurrahman group, claims responsibility for
the ICRC attack and issues a threat against the United States on social media sites.
• June 6, 2012-IED attack on the Temporary Mission Facility; the lED detonates with no injuries but blows
a large hole.in the compound's exterior wall. Omar Abdurrahman group makes an unsubstantiated claim of
responsibility.
• June 8, 2012--=-Two hand grenades target a parked United Kingdom (UK) diplomatic vehicle in Sabha (800
km south of Benghazi).
• June 11, 2012-While in Benghazi, the British Ambassador's convoy is attacked with an RPG and possible
AK-47s; two UK security officers are injured. The UK closes its mission in Benghazi the following day.

12

Intelligence Community reported on several ofthese incidents in finished
intelligence products prior to the September 11, 2012, attacks, including: 52•53 •54•55
e

April 6, 2012-A small lED was thrown over the wall of the Temporary
Mission Facility.

• April 10, 20 12-An explosive device was thrown at a convoy in
Benghazi carrying the head of the UN mission to Libya.
• May 22, 2012-The ICRC building in Benghazi was attacked with
RPGs. The Omar Abdul Rahman Brigade56 claimed responsibility for the
attack, according to press, social media, and other intelligence.
• June 6, 2012-An lED exploded near the main gate of the Mission
facility in Benghazi, creating a 9x1Z foot hole in the exterior wall. The
Omar Abdul Rahman Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack,
according to press reporting and a web forum.
• June 8, 2012-Two hand grenades were placed under two parked UK
diplomatic vehicles in Sabha (800 km south of Benghazi).
• June 11, 20 12-Unknown assailants using two RPGs and small-arms
attacked a three-vehicle convoy in Benghazi carrying the British
Ambassador.
June 12, 2012-An RPG attack occurs on the ICRC compound in Misrata (400 km west of Benghazi).
June 18, 20 12-Protestors storm the Tunisian consulate in Benghazi.
July 29, 2012-An lED is found on grounds ofthe Tibesti Hotel in Benghazi.
July 30, 2012-A Sudanese consul in Benghazi is carjacked and his driver is beaten.
.
July 31, 2012-Seven Iranian-citizen ICRC workers are abducted in Benghazi.
AugustS, 2012-ICRC Misrata office is attacked with RPGs; ICRC withdraws its representatives from
Misrata and Benghazi.
• August 9, 2012-A Spanish-American dual national NGO worker is abducted from the Islamic Cultural
Center in Benghazi and released the same day.

August 20, 2012-A small bomb is thrown at an Egyptian diplomat's vehicle parked outside ofthe
Egyptian consulate in Benghazi.
52
CIA, "Libya: Struggling To Create Effective Domestic Security System," WIRe, August 29, 2012.
53
CIA, "Libya: Attack on British Diplomatic Convoy Underscores Risks To Western Interests," WIRe, June 11,
2012.
54
CIA, "Libya: Recent Attacks Highlight Persistent Threats in Eastern Libya," WIRe; August 1, 2012.
55
DIA, "Libya: Terrorists Now Targeting U.S. and Western Interests," Defense Intelligence Report, June 12, 2012.
56
An unknown group fighting under the name ofOmar Abdul Rahman, who is commonly referred to as the "Blind
Sheikh." The Omar Abdul Rahman Brigade is also referred to as the Omar Abdurrahman group in this report.





13

• June 12, 2012-The ICRC building in Misratah 57 was attacked by either
an RPG or bomb.
• July 17, 2012-Unknown assailants attacked with small arms a threevehicle, armored UN convoy as it left Damah (250 km east of Benghazi).
e

July 29, 2012-A number ofiEDs are found and defused at the Tibesti
Hotel in Benghazi. The Tibesti Hotel is frequented by foreign diplomats
and businessmen and was previously used by Ambassador Stevens as a
base of operations.

• August 1, 20 12-The former regime military intelligence building in
Benghazi was bombed.
• August 5, 2012-Unknown assailants attacked the ICRC building in
Misratah. ICRC facilities in Misratah and Benghazi were attacked fout
times between May and August, usually with RPGs. 58
• August 6, 2012-Two U.S. military personnel in diplomatic vehicles
were forced off the road and attacked near Tripoli.
In the months prior to the attack, Ambassador Stevens and other State
Department officials in Libya outlined concerns via cables to State Department
headquarters about the security of the Mission compound in Benghazi and made
several requests for additional security resources. For example:

On June6, 2012, Stevens recommended the creation of
~teams, made up of locally hired personnel, in Benghazi and

Tripoli. The State Department attempted to create a team in Tripoli, but
was unable to
·
difficult to find and clear appropriate
team was never created in Benghazi,
60
ua•,.,a•uv• s recommendation.
57

The IC spells the city "Misratah," but the ARB's report spells it "Misrata."
The IC has since updated this infonnation and now assesses that the ICRC facilities in Misratah and Benghazi
were attacked five times between May and August, and on two occasions, the perpetrators used RPGs.
·
59
State 12 TRIPOLI 37, June 6, 2012.
60
SSCI Memorandum for the Record, "Staff Briefing with Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick
Kennedy and Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell," December 3, 2012.
58

14

• On July 9, 2012, Stevens sent a cable to State Department headquarters
requesting a minimum of 13 "Temporary Duty" (TDY) U.S. security
personnel for Libya, which he said could be made up of DS agents, DoD
Site Security Team (SST) personnel, or_some combination ofthe two. 61
These TDY security personnel were needed to meet the requested
security posture in Tripoli and Benghazi. The State Department never
fulfilled this request and, according to Eric Nordstrom, State Department
headquarters never responded to the request with a cable. 62
e

In an August 16, 2012, cable to State headquarters, Stevens raised
additional concerns about the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi
following an Emergency Action Committee (EAC) meeting held on
August 15, 2012, in Benghazi. The EAC is an interagency group
convened periodically in U.S. embassies and other facilities in response
to emergencies or security matters. ~n this case, the head State
Department officer in Benghazi, ca11ed the Principal Officer, convened
the meeting "to evaluate Post's tripwires in light of the deteriorating
security situation in Benghazi." 63 The cable summarizing this EAC
included the following points:
( 1) The Principal Officer "remarked that the security situation in
Benghazi was 'trending negatively"' and "that this daily pattern of
violence would be the 'new normal' for the foreseeable future,
particularly given the minimal capabilities of organizations such as
the Supreme Security Council and local police."
(2) A CIA officer "briefed the EAC on the location of approximately ten
Islamist militias and AQ training camps within Benghazi."
(3) The Principal Officer and a CIA officer "expressed concerns with the
lack of host nation security to support the U.S. Mission [facility]."

61

62
63

State 12 TRIPOLI 690, July 9, 2012.
SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff Interview of Eric Nordstrom, June 27,2013, pp. 32 and 60.
State 12 TRIPOLI 55, August 16,2012.

15

(4)~ssed con.c~~s

with.Post's r~lat.ionship with the
- [ l o c a l mihtia], particularly m hght of some of the
actions taken by the brigade's subsidiary members."

(5) The Regional Security Officer "expressed concerns with the ability to
defend Post in the event of a coordinated attack due to limited
manpower, security me~sures, weapons_capabilities, host nation
support, and the overall size of the compound."

Despite the clearly deteriorating security si_tuation in Benghazi and requests
for additional security resources, few significant improvements were made by the
State Department to the security posture of the Temporary Mission Facility.
Although the Mission facility met the minimum personnel requirements ~or
Diplomatic Security agents as accepted by the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli at the time
of the August 15 EAC meeting (specifically, the three Diplomatic Security agents
were assigned to guard the Mission compound), the Committee found no evidence
that significant actions were taken by the State Department between August 15,
2012, and September 11, 2012, to increase security at the Mission facility in
response to the concerns raised in that meeting. 65
According to the report of the ARB, "there appeared to be very real
confu~ion

over who, ultimately, was responsible and empowered to make decisions

based on both policy and security concerns" at the State Department's Bureau of
Diplomatic Security, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli,
and the Mission facility in Benghazi. 66 The Independent Panel on Best Practices,
· which the ARB recommended State establish to identify best practices from other
--

64

State 12 TRIPOLI 55, August 16, 2012.
65
The Committee recognizes that there were communications between State Department employees in Libya
regarding security during this time period, including an August 22, 2012, document entitled, "Security Requests for
U.S. Mission Benghazi" that was sent from OS agents in Benghazi to the RSO in Tripoli that included specific
requests for (I) physical security, (2) equipment, and (3) manpower. There is no indication those requests were
passed on to State Department H_eadquarters in the form of a cable.
66
Unclassified Report ofthe ARB, December 18, 2012, p. 30.

16

agencies and countries, found that a "potential root cause for the confusion, lack of
clear lines of authority, and communication at the headquarters level" was that
"some senior Foreign Service officers and DS agents who met with the Panel
identified the Under Secretary for Management (M) as the senior security official
in the Department responsible for final decision making regarding critical security
requirements," even though this role was "not identified by Congress in the
Diplomatic Security Act of 1986."67
Additionally, the uncertain future of the Mission facility, due to its one-year
expiration in December 2012, contributed to a lack of continuity for security staff
and constrained decision-makers in Washington regarding the allocation of
security enhancements to that facility. 68 The Temporary Mission Facility
continued to be understaffed and under-resourced, a situation best summarized in a
Jurte 2012 document from the Principal Officer in Benghazi, commenting that "[i]f
there is a real mission, fund us and find the staff." 69 The State Department did
implement some physical security improvements in 2012, such as heightening the
perimeter wall, installing concrete Jersey barriers, mounting safety grills on the
safe area windows, and other minor improvements. However, as the classified
version of the ARB report found, the Mission compound "included a weak and
very extended perimeter, an incomplete interior fence, no mantraps and
unhardened entry gates and doors. Benghazi was also severely under-resourced
with regard to weapons, ammunition, [non-lethal deterrents] and fire safety
equipment, including escape masks." 70
In contrast, the CIA, in response to the same deteriorating security situation
and IC threat reporting, consistently upgraded its security posture over the same
time period. Specifically, the attack on the British Ambassador's convoy by a
rocket-propelled grenade on June 11, 2012, led to a CIA security audit ofthe
Annex. As a result, CIA quickly implemented additional security measures due to
the threat of continued attacks against Western personnel in Benghazi. These
security upgrades included the following:
67

U.S. Department of State, Report of the Independent Panel on Best Practices, August 29,2013, p. 3.
An August 28, 2012, memo entitled, "Regional Security Officer Turnover" from the outgoing RSO stated: "U.S.
Mission Benghazi has an uncertain future; Post is scheduled to close December 31,2012. Various alternatives are
being proposed, including colocating with the Annex. The RSO should be aware that requests for expensive
security upgrades may be difficult to obtain as headquarters is hesitant to allocate money to a post that may be
closing in a few months." Classified Report ofthe ARB, December 18,2012, Appendix 6, p. I.
69
Email f r o m - "Response from Charlene," February 13,2012, p. 3 (the document attached to this email
is a series of bullet points).
7
Classified Report ofthe ARB, December 18,2012, p. 6.
68

°

17

In addition to these improvements, the physical
much more robust than that of the Mission facility,
71

CIA BENGHAZI 14986, June 12,2012, pp. 3 and 5.

-

-

18

- ---

- - - - - - - - -- - - -

By comparison, as the ARB
found, the Mission facility had received additional surveillance cameras, but they
remained uninstalled because the State Department had not yet sent out the
technic~! team necessary to install them. In addition, according to the ARB, the
camera monitor in the local guard force booth next to the main gate was inoperable
on the day of the attacks due to a needed repair by a technical team. 73
There was also a significant difference in security staffing between the two
facilities. In September 2012, there were three Diplomatic Security agents
assigned to the I~mporary Mission Facility, while there were nine security officers
out of a total of individuals at the CIA Annex. 74 On the night of the attack,
there were five f>S agents present at the Mission compound, two of whom came
from Tripoli with the Ambassador. 75 In sum, the Mission facility had a much
weaker security posture than the Annex, with a significant disparity in the quality·
· and quantity of equipment and security upgrades.

II

The lack of security enhancements contributed to the security breakdown at
th~ Temporary Mission Facility the night of the attacks. Although the cable
following the August 15 Emergency Action Committee stated that requests "for
additional physical security upgrades and staffing needs" would be submitted
separately to the Embassy in tripoli, 76 the Committee has not seen any evidence
that those requests were passed on by the Embassy, including by the Ambassador,
to State Department headquarters before the September 11 attacks in Benghazi.

72
73

SSCI Tr~script, Member and Staff Interview offormer Chief of Base, December 20, 2012, p. 4 7.
.
.
Report of the ARB, December I 20
35. ~ _ _
_

74

75
76

SSCI Tra,nScript, Staff Briefing From the Intelligence Community on Benghazi, November I, 2012, pp. 7-8.
State 12 TRIPOLI 55, August 16,2012.

--

----

19

--

---------

-

There has been considerable public discussion about the DoD's Site Security
Team in Tripoli. The SST, which was provided by the DoD at no expense to the
Department of State, consisted of 16 special operations personnel detailed to the
Chief of Mission in Libya, although its numbers fluctuated slightly due to
rotations. SST personnel were based in and spent most of their time in Tripoli, but
traveled to Benghazi two or three times in order to: augment the lack ofDS agents
there, do a security assessment of the Mission Facility in Benghazi, train local
guard forces, deliver excess defense equipment, and improve the security of the
Temporary Mission Facility. 77 According to testimony to the Committee, SST
personnel carried out a variety of duties including: (1) providing security; (2)
clearing unexploded ordnance from the site of the U.S. Embassy compound; (3)
establishing secure communications; and (4) carrying out medical duties. 78 The
SST provided the Ambassador with various security capabilities and, although not
located in Benghazi, provided a greater pool of security resources in Libya from
which the State Department could draw.
State Department headquarters made the decision not to request an extension
of the SST's mission in August 2012, approximately one month prior to the
attacks, because State believed that many of the duties of the SST could be
accomplished by local security forces, DS agents, or other State Department
DoD personnel in Libya
capabilities. 79 As a result, DoD changed the
to
with the
from protection of the U.S.
80
forces.
"DOD wanted to change
nature
nTn.~TL•.n it changed," according to former DCM Hicks. 82
DoD confirmed to the Committee that Ambassador Stevens declined two
specific offers from General Carter Ham, then the head of AFRICOM, to sustain
the SST in the weeks before the terrorist attacks. After reading the August 16,
2012, EAC cable, General Ham called Ambassador Stevens and asked ifthe
Embassy needed the SST from the U.S. military, but Stevens told Ham it did not.
Shortly thereafter, Stevens traveled to Germany for a previously scheduled meeting
77

SSCI Transcript, Benghazi Follow Up with Staff, May 22, 2013, p. 51.
Ibid., pp. 40-41 and 43-44.
79
SSCI Transcript, Hearing on the Attacks in Benghazi, November 15,2012, p. 145.
80
SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff Interview of Gregory Hicks and Mark Thompson, June 12,2013, p. 5.
81
SSCI Transcript, Benghazi Follow Up with Staff, May 22,2013, p. 42.
82
SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff Interview of Gregory Hicks and Mark Thompson, June 12, 2013, p. 49.
78

20

with Ham at AFRICOM headquarters. Ham again offered to sustain the SST at the
meeting, and Stevens again declined. 83

RECOMMENDATION: The State Department must ensure that security
threats are quickly assessed and security upgrades are put into place with
minimal bureaucratic delay. The State Department has made changes since
September 11,2012, including the creation of a new position of Deputy
Assistant Secretary for High-Threat Posts. Although this new position will
help the State Department focus on high-threat posts, the State Department
must make the institutional changes necessary to quickly and efficiently
respond to emerging security threats--especially those threats that have been
identified numerous times by the U.S. Intelligence Community. The
Committee urges the State Department to consider the recommendation of its
Independent Panel on Best Practices to, "as a matter of urgency, establish an
Under Secretary for Diplomatic Security" to "bring security governance into
the 21st Century and align security management with the realities of a post
9/11 threat environment."84 As noted by the Chairman of the Independent
Panel on Best Practices in his written testimony to a House Committee, this
structural recommendation is not new and was suggested in a re~ort written
14 years ago, following the 1998 East Mrica Embassy bombings. 5
RECOMMENDATION: Only in rare instances-and only after a formal risk
management plan 86 has been put into place--should State Department
facilities that fall short of current security standards 87 be allowed to operate.
Facilities that do not meet these standards should be prioritized for additional

83

SSCI Transcript, Benghazi Follow Up with Staff, May 22, 2013 , p. 4 7.
U.S. Department of State, Report of the Independent Panel on Best Practices, August 29, 2013 , pp. 5-6.
85
Mark Sullivan, Chainnan of the Independent Panel on Best Practices, Testimony Before the House Committee on
Oversight and Government Reform, September 19, 2013, p. 4; See also Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Security and
Intelligence Management Study, October 1999.
86
As described by the Independent Panel on Best Practices, risk management is balancing the "criticality of the
program against the risk to the organization should it implement the program" and understanding, however, there
may be "a requirement to conduct critical programs in an environment where the residual risk is so severe that there
is a high likelihood its implementation will result in death or serious injury," U.S. Department of State, Report of the
Independent Panel on Best Practices, August 29, 2013, p. 10.
87
The "security standards" are required by the Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB) and the Secure Embassy
Construction and Counterterrorism Act of 1999 (SECCA).
84

21

security measures.88 In these cases, temporary facilities should have the
physical security, personnel, weapons, ammunition, and fire safety equipment
needed to adequately address the threat. The Committee understands the
need for State to have the flexibility to operate, on a temporary basis, out of
facilities that fall short of these standards; however, these operations are
extremely vulnerable, as seen in Benghazi. 89
RECOMMENDATION: As appropriate, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for
High-Threat Posts should also find consistent ways to coordinate with the CIA
to exchange best practices for high-threat posts and to discuss common
security concerns.
RECOMMENDATION: The IC and State Department should ensure all
surveillance cameras at high-risk, high-threat facilities have sufficient
resolution, nighttime visibility, remote monitoring capabilities, and
redundancy to provide warning and situational awareness in the event of an
attack. The Committee notes that the Independent Panel on Best Practices
has recommended that the State Department establish a new office "for field
expedient de~oyment of hardware, cutting-edge protective technology and
procedures."

FINDING #3: There was no singular "tactical warning" in the intelligence
reporting leading up to the events on September 11, 2012, predicting an attack
on U.S. facilities in Benghazi on the 9/11 anniversary, although State and the
88

The State Department's Office oflnspector General has recommended that components within the Department
"develop minimum security standards that must be met prior to occupying facilities located in the Department of
State-designated high-risk, high-threat environments and include new minimum security standards of occupancy in
the Foreign Affairs Handbook as appropriate." U.S. Department of State, Office oflnspector General (I G), Special
Review of the Accountability Review Board Process, September 2013, p. 29.
89
The Independent Panel on Best Practices said: "Waivers for not meeting security standards have become common
place in the (State] Department; however, without a risk management process to identify and implement alternate
mitigating measures after a waiver bas been given, Department employees, particularly those in high threat areas,
could be exposed to an unacceptable level of risk." U.S. Department of State, Report of the Independent Panel on
Best Practices, August 29, 2013, p. 8. A recent State IG report also found : "The Department of State has neither a
conceptual framework nor a process for risk management. There is no one person or office specifically tasked to
oversee the assessment of risks in critical, high-threat locales and weigh those risks against the U.S. Government' s
policy priorities to determine ifthe strategic value ofthe program outweighs the associated risk." U.S. Department
of State, Office ofthe Inspector General, Special Review ofthe Accountability Review Board Process, September
2013, p. 1.
90
U.S. Department of State, Report of the Independent Panel on Best Practices, August 29,2013, p. 23.

22

CIA both sent general warning notices to facilities worldwide noting the
potential security concerns associated with the anniversary. Such a specific
warning should not have been expected, however, given the limited
intelligence collection of the Benghazi area at the time.
To date, the Committee has not identified any intelligence or other
information received prior to September 11, 2012, by the IC or State Department
indicating specific terrorist planning to attack the U.S. facilities in Benghazi on
September 11, 2012.
Although it did not reach the U.S. Intelligence Community until after the
attacks, it is important to note that a former Transitional National Council (TNC)
security official in Benghazi,
had received information of a possible
imminent attack against the Mission facility in advance. The official said that
approximately four hours prior to the attack, he attempted to notify the Libyan
Intelligence Service (LIS) that an attack was expected, but he was unable to reach
two contacts he had in the LIS as they were out of the country. 91 The CIA has
· the LIS
been unable to corroborate the official's claim that he
to
about the attack.

91

NCTC and FBI, The 11-12 September Attacks on US Facilities in Benghazi, November 13,2012, p. 3.
Email from CIA Office of Congressional Affairs staff to SSCI Staff, "Answers to SSCI Benghazi Questions from
August 2013," September 6, 2013.

92

23

According to a January 4, 2013, letter from the Acting Director of the CIA,
Michael Morell, "[t]he nature of the attacks suggested they did not involve
significant pre-planning." 96 Although it may never be known with complete
certainty, it is possible that the individuals and groups involved in the attacks had
not planned on conducting those attacks until that day, meaning that specific
tactical warning would have been highly unlikely. However, intelligence reports
made clear that extremist groups in eastern Libya, including Ansar al-Sharia, were
not only running training camps there, but also plotting and carrying out attacks
against U.S. and Western interests in the months prior to the attacks in Benghazi.

93

SSCI Transcript, Briefing/rom the Intelligence Community on Benghazi, November 1, 2012, p. 59-62; SSCI
with
201
67-69.
Transcript, Benghazi Follow
94
Email from NSA
et al, September 12,2012, 05:37a.m.
95
Email from CIA
(staff of the CIA Directorate of Intelligence), September
16,2012,08:44 a.m.
96
Letter from Acting CIA Director Michael Morell to SSCI Chairman Dianne Feinstein, January 4, 2013.

24

However, the collective assessment of the IC remains that the attacks
"were deliberate and organized, but that their lethality and efficacy did not
·
necessarily indicate extensive planning." 98

RECOMMENDATION: The IC must place a greater emphasis on collecting
intelligence and open-source information, including extremist-affiliated social
media, to improve its ability to provide tactical warnings, especially in North
Africa, the Middle East, and other areas where the U.S. has facilities under
high threat. Given the current resource-constrained budget environment, the
Committee is working with the IC to identify resource gaps and realign assets
to focus on those gaps, especially in North Mrica.

FINDING #4: Although the IC relied heavily on open source press reports in
the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the IC conducted little analysis of
open source extremist-affiliated social media prior to and immediately after
the attacks.
Although it is impossible to draw definitive conclusions, there were
fragmentary reports from the IC indicating that more in-depth intelligence
exploitation of social media in the Benghazi area, including web postings by
Libyan nationals employed at the Temporary Mission Facility, could have flagged
potential security threats to the Mission facility or important information about the
employees prior to the September 11, 2012, attacks.

RECOMMENDATION: The IC should expand its capabilities to conduct
analysis of open source information including extremist-affiliated social media
particularly in areas where it is hard to develop human intelligence or there
has been recent political upheaval. Analysis of extremist-affiliated social
media should be more clearly integrated into analytic products, when
appropriate.

97

98

CIA, "Libya: Update on Pla.nnillg and Culpability for Benghazi Attacks," WIRe, March 29, 2013.
Ibid; SSCI Transcript, Benghazi Follow Up with Staff, May 22, 2013, p. 6.

25

FINDING #5: There were "tripwires" designed to prompt a reduction in
personnel or the suspension of operations at the Mission facility in Benghazi
and although there is evidence that some of them had been crossed, operations
continued with minimal change. Some nations closed their diplomatic
facilities in Benghazi as the security conditions deteriorated during the
summer of 2012, but other nations stayed along with the United States,
contrary to some public reports and statements that the U.S. was the last
country represented in Benghazi.
State Department documents indicate that its Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
was aware of the fact that many of the tripwires had indeed been crossed and
discussed suspending operations, but never did. Given these developments and the
available intelligence at the time, the Coii1IIllttee believes the State Department
should have recognized the need to increase security to a level commensurate with
the threat, or suspend operations in Benghazi. However, operations continued with
minimal improvements in security and personnel protections. Although some
countries and international organizations had reduced their presence in Benghazi,
the United States maintained a diplomatic presence there similar to the UN, the
European Union, and other Western countries such as Italy, France, Turkey, and
Malta. 99
There were plans to co-locate the Mission facility and the Annex starting in
2013, but no changes were made before the September 11, 2012, attacks. The
Chief of Base stated that there had been discussions with Ambassador Stevens
about co-locating the Annex and the State Department compound at the same
facility. "We had been actively looking," he said. "We had had our officers come
out there to survey different locations in Benghazi to look for a location that we
could co-locate with the State Department, and we were planning to do that before
the end of this [2012] calendar year. So there was absolutely a plan to do that." 100

RECOMMENDATION: Where adequate security is not available, the
Department of State should be prepared to evacuate or close diplomatic
facilities under the highest threat, as it has in recent years in Sana'a, Yemen,
and Damascus, Syria.
99

Email from U.S. Department of State, Office of Legislative Affairs to SSCl staff: December 6, 2013, 5:00p.m.
SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff Interview offormer Chief ofBase, December 20, 2012, p. 7.

100

26

RECOMMENDATION : The Committee supports the recommendations of
the Accountability Review Board to bring greater collaboration and
connectivity between the State Der.artment's Bureau of Diplomatic Security
and the Intelligence Community. 1 1 The Department of State must pay special
attention to the "on the ground" assessments of IC and State personnel in the
field and IC analytic products about assessed risks to specific U.S. facilities
overseas.
Response During the Attacks
FINDING #6: The State Department personnel at the Temporary Mission
Facility in Benghazi relied on the security officers at the CIA Annex as a last
resort for security in the event of an attack.

Although there was no formal written agreement about how security should
be handled between the two facilities in Benghazi, there was a common
understanding that each group would come to the other' s aid if attacked, which is
what happened the night of September 11, 2012. 102 IC personnel immediately
came to the aid of their colleagues at the Temporary Mission Facility, and fought
bravely to secure T:rviF personnel and their own Annex facility. The Committee
interviewed U.S. personnel in Benghazi that night, and they credited their lives
being saved to the personnel who responded to the attacks.
With respect to the role of DoD and AFRICOM in emergency evacuations
and rescue operations in Benghazi, the Committee received conflicting information
on the extent of the awareness within DoD of the Benghazi Annex. According to
U. S. AFRICOM, neither the command nor its Commander were aware of an annex

101

The Committee also supports the "positive changes" noted by the Independent Panel on Best Practices that are
"currently underway or planned within DS, with Department support, for both better intelligence access and
additional intelligence analyst positions. Specifically, liaison representatives from the National Counterterrorism
Center (NCTC), the National Geospatial[-Intelligence] Agency (NGA), and the National Security Agency (NSA)
have been assigned to DSIITA [Diplomatic Security/Intelligence and Threat Analysis] .... Additionally, nine
positions for overseas deployed Intelligence Research Analysts have been approved for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014."
U.S. Department of State, Report of the Independent Panel on Best Practices, August 29, 2013, p. 18.
102
SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff Interview offormer Chief of Base, December 20, 2012, p. 6. The Chief of
Base said: "We had a 100 percent unwritten plan to go to their aid in the case of an emergency. But there was
nothing written."

27

in Benghazi, Libya. 103 However, it is the Committee's understanding that other
DoD personnel were aware of the Benghazi Annex.
RECOMMENDATION: There should be more specific information
exchanged between DoD and the IC, through the appropriate channels, to
make regional Combatant Commanders awar e of the general presence of
Intelligence Community personnel in their areas of responsibility for the
purposes of emergency evacuations and rescue. This information could have
been helpful to the Commander of AFRICOM and should have been more
easily available to him.

FINDING #7: There were no U.S. military resources in position to intervene
in short order in Benghazi to help defend the Temporary Mission Facility and
its Annex on September 11 and 12, 2012.
DoD moved aerial assets, teams of Marines, and special operations forces
toward Libya as the attacks were ongoing, but in addition to the seven-man
reinforcement team from Tripoli, the only additional resources that were able to
arrive on scene were unmanned, unarmed aerial surveillance assets. The
unmanned aerial vehicle that flew to B
· that ·
at the Temporary Mission Facility.
According to Major General Darryl Roberson, Vice Director of Operations
for the Joint Staff:
There were no ships available to provide any support that were anywhere
close to the facility at Benghazi. The assets that we had available were
Strike Eagles loaded with live weapons that could have responded, but they
were located in Djibouti, which is the equivalent of the distance between
here [Washington D.C.] and Los Angeles. The other fighters that might have
been available were located in Aviano, Italy. They were not loaded with
weapons. They were not on an alert status. We would've had to build
weapons, load weapons, get tankers to support it, and get it there. There was
103

Email from Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs to SSCI staff, August 15,
201 3, 5:14p.m.
104
SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff Interview offormer Chief of Base, December 20, 20 12, pp. 63-64.

28

--- ----

-~-

-

--

--

-

---

-

-

-

no way that we were going to be able to do that. Unfortunately, there was
not a carrier in the Mediterranean that could have been able to support; the
assets that we mobilized immediately were the only assets we had available
105
to try to support.
The Committee has reviewed the allegations that U.S. personnel, including
in the IC or DoD, prevented the mounting of any military relief effort during the
attacks, but the Committee has not found any of these allegations to be
substantiated. The following assets were deployed or in the process of deploying
in response to the Benghazi attacks (based on a review of DoD documents and
testimony before the Committee): ·

105

As noted, one unarmed Predator was diverted to provide surveillance
coverage of the Temporary Mission Facility as it was being attacked.
This Predator was subsequently replaced by another unanned Predator to
enable the first Predator to return to base for refueling.

106

The six-man CIA security team (plus an interpreter) left from the Annex
to respond to the Temporary Mission Facility soon after it came under
attack. The CIA security team did not make it in time to save
Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith, but they successfully evacuated the
other Americans at the Mission facility to the Annex.

A seven-person security team (consisting of two DoD personnel, four
CIA personnel, and a linguist) flew from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli to
Benghazi and successfully helped evacuate the Americans from the
Annex to the airport. It is important to clarify that, at the time of the
attacks in Benghazi, there were six DoD personnel assigned to Embassy
Tripoli. Four employees were under Special Operations Command
Africa (SOC-AFRICA) and reported through a similar, but separate,
chain of command within AFRICOM. The other two individuals from
that team were DoD personnel working
(based on a
memorandum of understanding) under a separate special operations task
force. According to the DoD, the four staff under SOC.,.AFRICA were
told by their command to stay to protect Embassy Tripoli due to concerns
of a similar attack in Tripoli. 106
·

SSCI Transcript, Hearing on the Attacks in Benghazi, November 15,2012, pp. 68-69.
SSCI Transcript, Benghazi Follow Up with Staff, May 22, 2013, pp. 42-45.

29

• Sometime between midnight and 2:00a.m. Benghazi time, Secretary of
Defense Leon Panetta verbally ordered two Marine Fleet Antiterrorism
Security Teams (or "FAST platoons") to deploy from their base in Rota,
·
Spain, to Libya.
o One team was to go to Benghazi to respond to the attack on the
Temporary Mission Facility.
o One team was to deploy to Tripoli to protect the Embassy if it was
attacked.

II

o The first FAST platoon would take
hours to be airborne. As
Major Generaj_Roberson testified, "whenever they got the
hours later they are supposed to be airborne and
notification,
moving to wherever they need to." 107 The second FAST platoon
would have taken 96 hours to deploy, according to Roberson. 108

Ill

o Because all Americans were evacuated from Benghazi before the
first FAST platoon could arrive, it was diverted to protect the tJ.S.
Embassy in Tripoli and arrived at 8:56p.m. Tripoli time, 011
September 12, 2012. 109
• Sometime between midnight and 2:00a.m. Benghazi time, Secretary
Panetta also ordered two teams of special operations forces to Benghazi,
but like the FAST platoons, neither made it to Libya before the
Americans had already evacuated the next morning after the attack:.
o One special operations force-which was training in Croatia-was
ordered to prepare to deploy to an intermediate NATO staging base
in Sigonella, Italy.
o The other special operations force-based in the United States-was ordered to deploy to the intermediate NATO staging b~se at
Sigonella.
107
108
109

SSCI Tran,script, Hearing on the Attacks in Benghazi, November 15,2012, p. 146.
Ibid.
DoD, Timeline of Department of Defense Actions on September 11-12, 2012, p. 2.

30

II

o The first special operations force would take
hours to be
airborne. As Major General Roberson testified: "The CIF
[Commanders In-Extremis Force] in Croatia is on an
meaning it would take
hours of preparation time before it could
begin the flight from Croatia to Benghazi. 110 The CIF from
Croatia only made it to the staging base at Sigonella by 7:57p.m.
Benghazi time, on September 12, almost 10 hours after all
Americans were evacuated from Benghazi. 111

II

o The other special operations force--from the United States--did
not arrive at the staging base at Sigonella until 9:28p.m. Benghazi
time, on September 12. 112
• There have been congressional and public questions about why military
assets were not used from the U.S. military base in Souda Bay, Crete.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey,
testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 7,
2013, that (1) the military asset in Souda Bay, Crete, "wasn't the right
tool for the particular threat we faced;" (2) " ... the aircraft were not
among the forces that we had at heightened alert;" and (3) the "boots-onthe-ground capabilities" that DoD de~loyed would have arrived too late,
so they did not deploy to Benghazi. 11
o Two months after the attacks in Benghazi, DoD moved a FAST
platoon from Rota,
to Souda Bay, Crete, reducing its


114
preparation trme to
RECOMMENDATION: It is imperative that the State Department, DoD,
and the IC work together to identify and prioritize the largest gaps in
coverage for the protection of U.S. diplomatic, military, and intelligence
personnel in the North Africa region and other high-threat posts around the
world. The small number of U.S. military resources devoted to the vast and
110

SSCI Transcript, Hearing on the Attacks in Benghazi, November 15, 201 2, p. 146.
DoD, Timeline of Department of Defense Actions on September 11-12, 2012, p. 2.
112 Ibid.
111

113

Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General, Testimony before the Senate Armed Services
Committee during Hearing on the Terrorist Attacks on US. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya, February 7, 201 3.
114
SSCI Transcript, Hearing on the Attacks in Benghazi, November 15, 2012, p. 152.

31

often ungoverned North African landscape makes it unlikely that DoD can
respond in short periods to all potential crises across North Africa. H DoD
cannot always provide help in an emergency, U.S. personnel on the ground
must make alternative plans to evacuate in the event of an attack or if
intelligence indicates that an attack is imminent.

FINDING #8: Unarmed U.S. military surveillance assets were not delayed
when responding to the attack, and they provided important situational
awareness for those under siege during the attacks against the Temporary
Mission Facility and the Annex on September 11 and 12,2012.
At the direction of AFRICOM, at 10 p.m. Benghazi time, DoD moved a
remotely piloted, unarmed surveillance aircraft, which was already conducting a
separate intelligence mission over Damah, to airspace above the Mission facility.
It arrived at approximately 11:10 p.m. Benghazi time, shortly before the U.S.
security personnel evacuated to the Annex. A second remotely piloted, unarmed
surveillance aircraft relieved the first, and monitored the eventual evacuation of
personnel from the Annex to the Benghazi airport later on the morning of
September 12, 2012. According to a CIA cable which served as the joint report
from Tripoli Station and B
· Base on the attacks: "ISR coverage was [a]
crucial resource
.... ISR was also crucial to provide
situational awareness to Benghazi Base and Team Tripoli efforts on the ground." 115

The Intelligence Picture After the Attacks
FINDING #9: In finished reports after September 11, 2012, intelligence
analysts inaccurately referred to the presence of a protest at the Mission
facility before the attack based on open source information and limited
intelligence, but without sufficient intelligence or eyewitness statements to
corroborate that assertion. The IC took too long to correct these erroneous
reports, which caused confusion and influenced the public statements of
policymakers.

115

CIA TRIPOLI27900, September 19, 2012, p. 9.

32

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the IC received numerous reports,
both classified and unclassified, which provided contradictory accounts that there
were demonstrations at the Temporary Mission Facility. In some cases, these
intelligence reports-which were disseminated widely in the Intelligence
Community--contained references to press reports on protests that were simply
copied into intelligence products. Other reporting indicated there wete no protests.
Fot
lC Qpt~ined closed circuit television video from the Mission
facility
and there were credible
eyewitness statements of U.S. personnel on the ground that night, which the FBI
began to collect from interviewing survivors starting on September 15, 2012, in
Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
The IC also had information that there were no protests outside the
Temporary Mission Facility prior to the attacks, but did not incorporate that
information into its widely circulated assessments in a timely manner. Contrary to
many press reports at the time, eyewitness statements by U.S. personnel indicate
that there were no protests at the start of the attacks. For example, on September
15, 2012,. the CIA's Chief of Station in Tripoli sent to the then-Deputy Director of
the ClA and others at the CIA an email that reported the attacks were "not/not an
escalation ofprotests." 116 Yet, the CIA's January 4, 2013, Analytic Line Review
downplays the importance of this email, noting, " ... as a standard practice, we do
not base analysis on e-mails and other informal communications from the field
because such accounts often change when formalized as disseminated intelligence
reports." 117
Moreover, it appears this reporting from those present during the attacks did
not make its way into assessments at CIA Headquarters, as the Deputy Director of
the Middle East and North Africa Analysis Office at CIA wrote an internal email,
dated September 16, 2012, that rnentioned "protestors that preceded the
violence." 118 On September 18,2012, the FBI and CIA reviewed the closed circuit
television video from the Mission facility that showed there were no protests prior
to the attacks. Although information gathered from interviews with U.S. personnel
who were on the ground during the attacks was shared informally between the FBI

116

CIA, Analytical Line Review of the Benghazi Attacks, January 4, 2013, p. 7.
Ib"d ., p. 8.
1
.
Email from
t o - "FW: DCIA/DDCIA Memo as sent to D D / D I - "
September 16, 12, 4:08p.m., p. I.
·
117
118

33

and CIA, it was not until two days later, on September 20, 2012, that the FBI
disseminated its intelligence reports detailing such interviews. 119
A dearth of clear and definitive HUMINT or eyewitness reporting led IC
analysts to rely on open press reports and limited SIGINT reporting that incorrectly
attributed the origins of the Benghazi attacks to "protests," over first-hand accounts
from U.S. officials on the ground. CIA's January 4, 2013, Analytic Line Review
found that "[a]pproximately a dozen reports that included press accounts, public
statements by AAS members, ffiJMINT reporting, DOD reporting, and signals
intelligence all stated or strongly suggested that a protest occurred outside of the
Mission facility just prior to the attacks." 120
Of the 11 reports cited by the CIA's Analytic Line Review, six were press
articles, two were the public statements of Ansar al-Sharia, and the three others
were intelligence reports. Specific open source reports and intelligence on which
analysts appear to have based their judgments include the public statements by
121
Ansar al-Sharia that the attacks were a "spontaneous and popular uprising."
Aiso, there was protest activity in Egypt and approximately 40 other cities around
the world and violent attacks against U.S. diplomatic facilities in Tunisia, Yemen,
and Egypt from September 11-20, 2012. In addition, there were intelligence
reports in the days following the Benghazi attacks that al-Qa'ida-associated
terrorists hoped to take advantage of global protests for further attacks. 122
As a result of evidence from closed circuit videos and other reports, the IC
changed its assessment about a protest in classified intelligence reports on
September 24, 2012, to state there were no demonstrations or protests at the
Temporary Mission Facility prior to the attacks. This slow change in the official
assessment affected the public statements of government officials, who continued
to state i_n press interviews that there were protests outside the Mission compound.
The IC continues to assess that although they do not think the first attack caine out
of protests, the lethality and efficacy of the attack "did not require significant

119

ODNI, Intelligence Community Response: Fact-Based & Substantive Review Only Regarding SSCI Report of
Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, August 30, 2013, p. 15.
12
CIA, Analytical Line Review of the Benghazi Attacks, January 4, 2013, p. 4.
121
ODNI, The Benghazi Intelligence Review, October 22,2012, translated transcript of an open source YouTube
video: "Libya: Ansar Al-Shari'ah Video Statement on US Consulate Attack in Benghazi," September 12,2012, p. 2.
122
NCTC, "Libya: Variety of Extremists Participated in Benghazi Attacks," NCTC Current, September 15, 2012.

°

34

amounts ofpreplanning." 123 The IC continues to review the amount and nature of
.
.
any prep1anrung that went mto the attacks. 124

RECOMMENDATION: InteUigence analysts should more aggressively
request and integrate eyewitness reporting--especially from U.S. Government
personnel-in the aftermath of a crisis. The IC should establish a process or
reevaluate its current procedures to improve the speed and process with
which operational reporting (for example, eyewitness reporting) and raw
collection make it into disseminated intelligence products.
RECOMMENDATION: The IC must act quickly to correct the written
record and address misperceptions in its finished analytical products. The IC
should avoid repeating erroneous information in its intelligence products as
analysts continued to do when they wrote there were "protests" at the
Temporary Mission Facility, which then made its way into reports
disseminated to U.S. policymakers and Congress.

FINDING #10: The State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research
(INR) did not disseminate any independent analysis in the year following the
Benghazi attacks.
Based on the Committee' s review, the State Department's INR disseminated
no intelligence products related to the Benghazi attacks in the year following the
attacks. Considering the attacks began on a State Department facility, involved the
deaths of two State Department personnel, and were an important indication of
escalating threats against U.S. facilities and personnel in the region, the Committee
fmds it unsettling that INR chose not to, or was unable to, disseminate any analysis
related to the attacks or the implications of the attacks.
INR witnesses told Committee staff that its staff resources were scarce, but
also said that " .. .unless we have something that is unique analysis that is really
going to change things we feel that we're better off coordinating on what the IC
says then briefmg within our building." 125
123

SSCI Transcript, Benghazi Follow Up with Staff, May 22, 2013, p. 82.
Ibid.
SSCI Transcript, Staff Briefing: U.S. Department of State Bureau ofintelligence and Research Re: Benghazi,
February 1, 20 13, p. 47.
124
125

35

Yet, INR officials have access to State Department information and
perspectives that many in the Intelligence Community do not; therefore, INR
should play a more active--not just a coordinating-role in analysis for the IC and
not just the State Department. The State Department' s Inspector General went
even further and found that INR should be the office to produce a comprehensive
security assessment for each post based on all available diplomatic and intelligence
sources. 126
RECOMMENDATION: The Committee urges the DNI and the State
Department to conduct a review of the types of intelligence products that INR
prepares and to look for ways to make INR's products more timely and
responsive to world events, especially those that directly affect State
Department personnel. The Committee notes that the Independent Panel on
Best Practices has also recommended that the State Department audit and
assess "how quickly and effectively INR shares intelligence with DS and all
other [State] Department components. " 127

FINDING #11: The DNI's Office of Analytic Integrity and Standards (AIS)
failed to provide complete and accurate information to Congress during its
review of the Benghazi attacks. The Committee found AIS's methodology in
assembling documents to be flawed. Despite repeated requests from the
Committee, AIS also refused to provide complete, accurate, and thoroughly
cited information to Congress.
In response to inquiries by Members of Congress about the intelligence
reporting before, during, and after the Benghazi attacks, the DNI's office stated
that all intelligence reports on Benghazi would be assembled by AIS and those
hundreds of documents would be provided to the congressional intelligence
committees as part of an official "Benghazi Intelligence Review" (BIR).
The BIR documents were delivered on October 22, 20 12, but were not a
complete set of intelligence reporting related to the Benghazi attacks. The
Committee found that there was significant confusion within AIS about their
126

U. S. Department of State, Office of Inspector General, Special Review of the Accountability Review Board
Process, September 2013, p. 30.
127
U.S. Department of State, Report of the Independent Panel on Best Practices, August 29, 2013, p. 20.

36

efforts to bring together documents for the BIR. Although the review was
presented to the Committee as comprehensive, it was not even thorough. The
Committee found that AIS believed it was tasked to find some illustrative
documents (that may not have been verified by analysts as significant or priority
documents), as opposed to providing all Benghazi documents to Congress. The
Committee is concerned that AIS, the office within the Intelligence Community
charged with setting and evaluating the standards for analysis, could perform so
poorly in responding to a request from the Committee.

The Talkin2 Poi~ts
On September 15, 2012, the CIA provided to the House and Senate
Intelligence Committees a set of unclassified talking points at the request of the
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The talking points and the
emails, in redacted form, detailing their coordination are now available to the
public and the Committee encourages the public to review them. Members of the
Committee have differing views on the substance of, and circumstances
surrounding, the CIA' s talking points that are addressed in the Additional Views of
this report. A detailed time line of the different versions of the talking points is in
Appendix I of this report.

RECOMMENDATION: In responding to future requests for unclassified
talking points from Congress, the Intelligence Community should simply tell
Congress which facts are unclassified and let Members of Congress provide
additional context for the public.

Lessons Learned Mter the Attacks to Improve the Interaction between the
State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the IC
The Benghazi attacks demonstrate that U.S. facilities are at risk of being
attacked at any time, without specific tactical warning; therefore, security at all
high-risk overseas U.S. Government facilities must be improved and reevaluated
on an ongoing basis as threats change and emerge. The IC is playing a key role in
that review process by helping to evaluate the threats and strengthen the security of
its own facilities. The State Department and the IC should share best practices
whenever possible to improve security to high-risk, high-threat posts. As noted,
37

additional security measures were implemented in a timely manner by the CIA at
the Annex, yet not at the Temporary Mission Facility.
The Department of State has missed opportunities to draw lessons from past
events that could improve security programs and enhance security for the entire
foreign affairs community, according to the September 2013 "Special Review of
the Accountability Review Board Process," by the State Department' s Inspector
General. 128

FINDING #12: The co-location of IC and diplomatic personnel in Benghazi
could have enhanced security; but co-location often presents tradeoffs that
should be carefully evaluated in high-threat environments.

Keeping intelligence facilities separate from State Department compounds
can provide important operational advantages. According to the Chief of Base:
"We had the luxury that the Mission didn't have of keeping o~
low-profile and making our movements-we used very good protocol movements, and our vehicular moves were very much low-profile. So we
had a security advantage, I guess you could say, over our State colleagues." A
June 12, 2012, CIA cable from Benghazi Base came to a similar conclusion,
finding: " ... as a direct result of a concerted effort to build and maintain a low
profile we believe that the locals for the most part do not know we are here and
housed/officed in a separate stand alone facility from our [United States
Government] USG counterparts." 129
RECOMMENDATION: The Committee agrees that IC and diplomatic
personnel should generally be co-located overseas except where the IC
determines that, for operational reasons, co-location is not helpful in meeting
mission objectives or that it poses a security risk. In those limited instances,
the IC should work with the State Department in light of Chief of Mission
authorities. However, the Committee does not believe that co-location
decisions should be subjected to a broader interagency approval process.
128

U. S. Department of State, Office of the Inspector General, Special Review ofthe Accountability Review Board
Process, September 201 3, p. I; see also U. S. Department of State, Office of Inspector General, Audit of Department
of State Compliance With Physical and Procedural Security Standards at Selected High Threat Level Posts, June
20 13.
129
CIA BENGHAZI 14986, June 12,201 2, p. 2.

38

FINDING_ #13: The primary Sollr¢e of security for the Temporary Mission
Facility, local Libyan militia members, failed to provide any significant
defense of the compound from the attack.
Video footage shows-and the ARB also found-that, at 9:42p.m.
Benghazi time, a local police vehicle stationed outside the Mission facility
withdrew as soon as armed attackers advanced toward the U.S. compound. In
addition, the TMF in Benghazi had been vandalized and attacked in the months
prior to the September 11-12 attacks by some of the same guards who were there to
.
• 130
protect 1t.
Local security guards, especially security guards who are not operated and
overseen by the host government, are an inherently less reliable security force than
security provided by U.S. forces or the military or police forces of a host
government. According to the State Department, the Mission facility did not store
classified information, and therefore no Marine contingent was present. 131
Although U.S. Government security forces are always preferred, the CIA and State
determined that local militias would provide the so-called "least bad option" in
post-revolutionary Libya. The former Chief of Base stated: "There was no
alternative. You know, there really is no functioning government there. And the
miiitia groups that both we, and the State Department, depended on Were in fact
kind of the de facto government there in Benghazi." 132
The Government of Libya lacked the capl:lcity to respond to the crisis
militarily or with law enforcement personnel. Its governance over the entire
Benghazi area was also extremely limited, which further constrained its ability to
respond. The ineffectiveness of the Libyan government in its ability to respond to
emergencies and control areas like Benghazi was well.,.known to the U.S.
Government and Ambassador Stevens prior to the attacks. In fact, oil August 29,
2012, the CIA published an intelligence report entitled, "Libya: Struggling to

13

°Classified Report ofthe ARB, December 18,2012, Appendix 26.

131

Also, according to the official website of the U.S. Marine Corps: "The primary mission of the Marine Security
Guard (MSG) is to provide internal security at designated U.S. diplomatic and consular facilities in order to prevent
the compromise of classified material vital to the national security of the United States." See
Www.rilcesg.inarines.mil, accessed December 5, 2013.
132
SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff Interview offormer Chief of Base, December 20, 2012, p. 20.

39

Create Effective Domestic Security System" that highlighted the Libyan
Government's inability to prevent or respond to security incidents.133

RECOMMENDATION: The U.S. Government cannot rely on local security
in areas where the U.S. has facilities under high-threat or where the host
nation is not capable of providing adequate security. The Committee
supports the State Department's initiative-working with DoD-to request
additional Marines and to expand the Marine Security Guard Program to
increase protection at high-risk facilities beyond solely the protection of
classified information.
RECOMMENDATION: Based on the fact that Ambassador Stevens and
Sean Smith perished due to the smoke from fires lit by attackers, State and
the IC should review the fire safety and high-threat training and equipment
for all employees sent abroad to ensure that proper fire safety equipment is
available at all facilities and personnel have proper protective equipment in
the event of smoke and fire emergencies.

Bringing the Attackers to Justice
FINDING #14: More than a year after the Benghazi attacks, the terrorists
who perpetrated the attacks have still not been brought to justice. The IC has
identified several individuals responsible for the attacks. Some of the
individuals have been identified with a strong level of confidence. However,
insight into the current whereabouts and links between these individuals in
some cases is limited due in part to the nascent intelligence capabilities in the
region.

Individuals affiliated with terrorist groups, including AQIM, Ansar alSharia,134 AQAP, and the Mohammad Jamal Network, participated in the
September 11, 2012, attacks. Intelligence suggests that the attack was not a highly
coordinated plot, but was opportunistic; however, well-armed attackers easily
overwhelmed the Libyan security guards and the five U.S. Diplomatic Security
agents present at the Temporary Mission Facility. It remains unclear if any group
133

CIA, "Libya: Struggling To Create Effective Domestic Security System," WIRe, August 29, 2012.
After the Benghazi attacks, the IC began to distinguish Ansar al-Sharia into two groups: (1) AAS-Benghazi; and
(2) AAS-Damah.
134

40

or person exercised overall command and control of the attacks or whether
extremist group leaders directed their members to participate. Some intelligence
suggests the attacks were likely put together in short order, following that day' s
violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video, suggesting that these and
other terrorist groups could conduct similar attacks with little advance warning.
The FBI's investigation into the individuals responsible for the Benghazi
attacks has been hampered by inadequate cooperation and a lack of capacity by
foreign governments to hold these perpetrators accountable, making the pursuit of
justice for the attacks slow and insufficient. As a result, key information gaps
remain about the potential foreknowledge and complicity of Libyan militia groups
and security forces, the level of pre-planning for the attacks, the perpetrators and
their involvement in other terrorist activities and the motivation for the attacks.

I

The Libyan Government has not shown the political incentive or will within
its own country to seek out, arrest, and prosecute individuals believed to be
associated with the attacks. Furthermore, the security environment in Benghazi
remains extremely dangerous for individuals wishing to work with the U.S.
Government on its investigation into the attacks. In testimony before the Senate
Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related
Agencies, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller noted that as many as 15 individuals
supporting the investigation or otherwise helpful to the United States have been
killed in Benghazi since the attacks, underscoring the lawless and chaotic
circumstances in eastern Libya. It is unclear whether their killings were related to
the Benghazi investigation. 135

RECOMMENDATION: The U.S. Government must swiftly bring the
attackers to justice, in spite of the unwillingness or lack of capacity of the
Libyan government to assist in this effort.

135

RobertS. Mueller lll, Director of the FBI, Testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on
Commerce, Justice and Science, May 16,2013.

41

V. CONCLUSION
In the year since Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen
Doherty wete killed during the terrorist attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi,
Libya, the Senate Intelligence Committee has worked to understand the events
leading up to, during, and after these attacks. Although this report does not attempt
to address every aspect of this tragedy, we believe it identifies important findings
and recommendations that will improve our intelligence analysis, priorities, and
capabilities and help ensure the future safety of U.S. personnel serving overseas.
We recognize, particularly in this post-9/11 era, that the risk to U.S.
diplomatic, military, and intelligence officials around the world remains high. We
cannot eliminate this risk, but we can and must do more to minimize the potential
harm to the men and women who, understanding and accepting this risk, have
chosen to serve the United States abroad. Unfortunately, as we learned in
Bengha.zi, the tactical intelligence that can warn of an imminent threat is not
always present. This cannot be an excuse for inaction, however. It is imperative
that the Intelligence Community position itself to anticipate, rather than just react
to, potential terrorism hotspots and changing dynamics on the ground, and that
U.S. personnel and facilities overseas are equipped to immediately defend against
and withstand any potential attack. It is also imperative that those in decisionmaking positions in Washington, D.C. heed the concerns and wisdom of those on
the front lines and make resource and security decisions with those concerns in
mind. The United States government did not meet this standard of care in
Benghazi, but we believe this report's findings and recommendations will help
avoid similar tragedies.
The Committee honors the lives and sacrifices of the four American heroes
Who died in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. We also recognize those who came
to their aid or mobilized assistance in their defense. This report cannot in any way
compensate for the sacrifices of these individuals, but it is our hope that We can, as
a nation, resolve to do all that is needed to protect the lives and well-being of every
American citizen serving this country abroad.

42

APPENDIX I: The Benghazi Talking Points
On September 15, 2012, the CIA provided the HPSCI and the SSCI with
unclassified talking points for Members' use in media and public statements
regardin~ the September 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The
talking points were requested by the HPSCI during a meeting with then-CIA
Director Petraeus on Friday, September 14, 2012. As made clear by 100 pages of
emails released by the Obaina Administration on May 15, 2013, 136 the talking
points were then also provided to U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, in her
appearances on several television talk shows on Sunday, September 16, 2012. The
contents of the talking points and Rice's comments in her public appearances
generated significant controversy, including in Congress. As discussed in J;Iiore
detail belOW, the SSCI devoted considerable staff time and held three closed
briefings for Members to address the Benghazi talking points issue.
The final, unclassified version of the CIA talking points, as provided to
HPSCI on September 15,2012, read as follows:

. .,. ,. . The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations
in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US
Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US
diplomatic post in Benghazi and subsequently its annex. There are
indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.
-This assessment may change as additional information is collected
and analyzed as currently available information continues to be
evaluated.
-The investigation is ongoing and the US Government is working Witb
Libyan authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of
US citizens.

136

ABC News, "White House Benghazi Emails," accessed December 3, 2013,
http://abcnews.go.com/images!Politics/white-house-benghazi-emails.pdf

43

-

-

-------

--

----

SSCI Actions to Review the Talking Points
The SSCI conducted tWo closed, on-the-record sessions and one unrecorded
session regarding the Benghazi talking points with the General Counsel of the
ODNI, Robert Litt. Two similar on-the-record sessions occurred on January 3,
2013, the first with Litt and Chairman Feinstein and the second with Litt and Vice
Chairman Chambliss, dtie to scheduling conflicts. Limited IC and SSCI staff were
present at each session, but the transcript was made available to all SSCI members
and staff. During the January 3 sessions, Litt went through the evolution of what
he said were eleven different drafts of the talking points, starting on September 14
through the final version on September 15, 2012. He provided a summary
document he created showing the changes made to each draft, without email time
stamps and sender/recipient information because the Administration, claiming
privilege, would not provide the Committee the opportunity to look at the actual
emails. Members were not allowed to keep that handout, but staff were allowed to
take notes.
A third Members-only session with Litt, which was not recorded, took place
on February 26, 2013. During that session, Litt shared with Members copies of
nearly 100 pages of emails associated with the interagency coordination process
that took place in drafting the talking points. (Redacted versions of these emails
were then made public by the Administration on May 15, 2013.) Litt also shared
details about which individuals or agencies made changes to the points, when those
changes occurred, and the nature of the changes. Members had to return the copies
of the emails to Litt at the end of the briefing. Staff access to this briefing was
strictly limited to both the Majority and Minority Staff Directors plus one
additional staffer per side.
Members also asked questions about the talking points in open and closed
hearings of the SSCI on multiple occasions, and staff submitted several formal
questions for the record and informal inquiries to the IC about the issue. In some
cases, the testimony of senior IC officials about the talking points was poorly
informed or confusing, creating further uncertainty among Members and staff.
Chairman Feinstein and Vice Chairman Chambliss also wrote to the DNI on two
occasions-December 4, 2012, and January 30, 2013-specifically requesting full
documentation on the changes made to the talking points.

44

This Committee faced significant resistance from the Administration in
getting access to the emails and documentation that Mr. Litt ultimately provided on
February 26, 2013, and that were then made public-in redacted form-on May
15, 2013. This resistance was apparently based, in part, on Executive branch
concerns related to executive privilege and the deliberative process which appeared
to evaporate when the emails were made public. However, it also served to
exacerbate the controversy surrounding the talking points, prolonged media IJlld
public speculation, and raised questions of trust of the IC as Members attempted to
extract information. This matter could have been mitigated much sooner if the
Executive brail.ch had promptly provided the email documentation that was
ultimately given to SSCI on February 26th and made public on May 15th.

Analysis

of the Talking Points

Below is the time line of the twelve changes to the CIA talking points, as
assembled from the 100 pages of emails made public by the Administration on
May 15, 2013. 137 The timeline is in 12-point font to facilitate comparison to the
publicly available summary document about the creation of the CIA talking points,
which was created by Robert Litt. 138
1)

Fri., Sept. 14th 2012,_11:15 a.m.-·
·written by Director, CIA Office of Terrorism Analysi~

We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were
spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a
direct assault against the US Consulate and S\lbsequeptly its annex.
The crowd almost certainly was a mix of individuals from across many sectors of Libyan
society. That being said, we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa'ida
participated in the attack.
Initial press reporting linked the attack to Ansar al-Sharia. The group has since released a
statement that the [sic] its leadership did not order the attacks, but did not deny that some
of its members were involved. Ansar al-Sharia's facebook page aims to spread sharia in
Libya and emphasizes the need for jihad to counter what it views as false interpretations
of Islam, according to an open source study.

Emails on CIA Talking Points, accessed December 5, 2013, http://abcnews.go.com/images/Politics/white~house­
benghazi -emails. pdf
138
ABC News, "CIA Benghazi Talking Points Timeline," accessed December 5, 2013,
http://abcnews.go.com/images/Politics/Benghazi%20Talking%20Points%20Timeline.pdf
137

45


The wide availability of weapons and experienced fighters in Libya almost certainly
contributed to the lethality of the attacks.
Since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in
Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British
Ambassador' s convoy. We cannot rule out that individuals had previously surveilled the
US facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.
We are working with Libyan authorities and intelligence partners in an effort to help
bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of US citizens.

2) 12:23 p.m.-addition made by CIA's Office of General Counsel


We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were
spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a
direct assault against the US Consulate and subsequently its annex. This assessment may
change as additional information is collected and analyzed and currently available
information continues to be evaluated.
The crowd almost certainly was a mix of individuals from across many sectors of Libyan
society. That being said, we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa' ida
participated in the attack.
Initial press reporting linked the attack to Ansar al-Sharia. The group has since released a
statement that the [sic] its leadership did not order the attacks, but did not deny that some
of its members were involved. Ansar al-Sharia' s facebook page aims to spread sharia in
Libya and emphasizes the need for jihad to counter what it views as false interpretations
oflslam, according to an open source study.
The wide availability of weapons and experienced fighters in Libya almost certainly
contributed to the lethality of the attacks.
Since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in
Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack of the British
Ambassador' s convoy. We cannot rule out that individuals had previously surveilled the

US facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.
We are working with Libyan authorities and intelligence partners in an effort to help
bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of US citizens.

3) 4:42 p.m.-edits made by CIA's (1) Office of Public Affairs & (2) Congressional Affairs

The We belieYe based on currently available information suggests that the
demonstrations attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US
Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US Consulate and
subsequently its annex. This assessment may change as additional information is

46

collected and analyzed and currently available information continues to be evaluated. On
10 September we warned of social media reports calling for a demonstration in front of
the Embassy and thatjihadists were threatening to break into the Embassy.


The crowd almost certainly was a mix of individuals from across many sectors of Libyan
society. The investigation is on-going as to who is responsible. That being said, we do
know that Islamic extremists with ties to al Qa' ida participated in the attaek violent
demonstrations.
Initial press reporting linked the attack to Ansar al-Sharia. The group has since released a
statement that the its leadership did not order the attacks, but did not deny that some of its
members were involved. Ansar al-Sharia' s Facebook page aims to spread sharia in Libya
and emphasizes the need for jihad to counter what it views as false interpretations of
Islam, according to an open source study.
The wide availability of weapons and experienced fighters in Libya almost certainly
contributed to the lethality of the attacks.
The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qaeda
in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least
five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants
including the June attack against the British Ambassador's convoy. We cannot rule out
that individuals had previously surveilled the US facilities, also contributing to the
efficacy of the attacks.
The US Government is \Ve are working with Libyan authorities and intelligence partners
in an effort to help bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of US citizens.

4) 5:09 p.m.-edits made by CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell before being sent outside
CIA for first time

The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were
spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a
direct assault against the US Consulate and subsequently its annex. This assessment may
change as additional information is collected and analyzed and currently available
information continues to be evaluated. On 10 September we warned of social media
reports calling for a demonstration in front ofthe Embassy and thatjihadists were
threatening to break into the Embassy.
The crowd almost certainly was a mix of individuals from across many sectors of Libyan
society. The investigation is on-going as to who is responsible for the violence. That
being said, we do know that Islamic extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.
Initial press reporting linked the attack to Ansar al-Sharia. The group has since released a
statement that its leadership did not order the attacks but did not deny that some of its
members were involved. Ansar al-Sharia' s Facebook page aims to spread sharia in Libya
47


and emphasizes the need for jihad to counter what it views as false interpretations of
Islam, according to an open source study.
The wide availability of weapons and experienced fighters in Libya almost certainly
contributed to the lethality of the attacks.
The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qaeda
in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least
five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants,
including the June attack against the British Ambassador's convoy. We cannot rule out
that individuals had previously surveilled the US facilities, also contributing to the
efficacy of the attacks.
The US Government is working with Libyan authorities and intelligence partners in an
effort to help bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of US citizens.

5) 6:21 p.m.-edit made by Tommy Vietor, Spokesman for the National Security Staff


The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were
spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a
direct assault against the US Consulate and subsequently its annex. This assessment may
change as additional information is collected and analyzed and currently available
information continues to be evaluated. On 10 September we warned of social media
reports calling for a demonstration in front of Embassy Cairo and that j ihadists were
threatening to break into the Embassy.
The crowd almost certainly was a mix of individuals from across many sectors of Libyan
society. The investigation is on-going as to who is responsible for the violence. That
being said, we do know that Islamic extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.
Initial press reporting linked the attack to Ansar al-Sharia. The group has since released a
statement that its leadership did not order the attacks, but did not deny that some of its
members were involved. Ansar al-Sharia's Facebook page aims to spread sharia in Libya
and emphasizes the need for jihad to counter what it views as false interpretations of
Islam, according to an open source study.
The wide availability of weapons and experienced fighters in Libya almost certainly
contributed to the lethality of the attacks.
The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qaeda
in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least
five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants,
including the June attack against the British Ambassador's convoy. We cannot rule out
that individuals had previously surveilled the US facilities, also contributing to the
efficacy of the attacks.

48

The US Government is working with Libyan authorities and intelligence partners in an
effort to help bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of US citizens.

6) 6:41 p.m.--edits made by Shawn Turner, ODNI Spokesman


The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were
spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a
direct assault against the US Consulate and subsequently its annex. This assessment may
change as additional information is collected and analyzed and currently available
information continues to be evaluated. On 10 September we notified Embassy Cairo
warned of social media reports calling for a demonstration and encouraging in front of
the Embassy Cairo and that jihadists were threatening to break into the Embassy.
The crowd almost certainly was a mix of individuals from across many sectors of Libyan
society. The investigation is on-going as to who is responsible for the violence. That
being said, we do know that Islamic extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.
Initial press reporting linked the attack to Ansar al-Sharia. The group has since released a
statement that its leadership did not order the attacks, but did not deny that some of its
members were involved. Ansar al-Sharia's Facebook page aims to spread sharia in Libya
and emphasizes the need for jihad to counter what it views as false interpretations of
Islam, according to an open source study.
The wide availability of weapons and experienced fighters in Libya almost certainly
contributed to the lethality of the attacks.
The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qaeda
in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least
five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants,
including the June attack against the British Ambassadors convoy. We cannot rule out
that individuals had previously surveilled the US facilities, also contributing to the
efficacy of the attacks.
The US Government is working with Libyan authorities and intelligence partners in an
effort to help bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of US citizens.

6:52 p.m.--edits made by Tommy Vietor on behalf of Assistant to the President for
Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, John Brennan
7)

The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were
spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a
direct assault against the US Consulate and subsequently its annex. This assessment may
change as additional information is collected and analyzed and currently available
information continues to be evaluated. On 10 September we notified Embassy Cairo of

49


social media reports calling for a demonstration and encouraging jihadists to break into
the Embassy.
The ero'.vd almost eertainly vras a mix of mdividuals from aeross many seetors of Libyan
soeiety. The investigation is on-going as to who is responsible for the violence, although
the crowd almost certainly was a mix of individuals. That beieg said, We do know that
Islamic extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.
Initial press reporting linked the attack to Ansar al-Sharia. The group has since released a
statement that its leadership did not order the attacks but did not deny that some of its
members were involved. Ansar al-Sharia' s Facebook page aims to spread sharia in Libya
and emphasizes the need for jihad to counter what it views as false interpretations of
Islam, according to an open source study.
The wide availability of weapons and experienced fighters in Libya almost certainly
contributed to the lethality of the attacks.
The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qaeda
in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least
five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants,
including the June attack against the British Ambassador' s convoy. We cannot rule out
that individuals had previously surveilled the US facilities, also contributing to the
efficacy of the attacks.
The US Government is working with Libyan authorities and intelligence partners in an
effort to help bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of US citizens.

8) 8:58 p.m.- first two edits suggested by FBI, all made by CIA's Office of Public Affairs

The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were
spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a
direct assault against the US Consulate and subsequently its annex. This assessment may
change as additional information is collected and analyzed and currently available
information continues to be evaluated. On 10 September the Agency we notified
Embassy Cairo of social media reports calling for a demonstration and encouraging
jihadists to break into the Embassy.
The investigation is on-going as to who is responsible for the violence, although the
crowd almost certainly was a mix of individuals. That being said, there are indications
we do keow that Islamic extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.
Initial press presorting linked the attaek to A.1:Sar al Sharia. The gr01:1p has sieee released
a statemeet that its leadership did eot order the attaeks, but did eot deey that some of its
members were involved. z'\nsar al Sharia's Faeebook page aims to spread sharia m Libya
and emphasizes the eeed for jihad to eoooter what it views as false ieterpretatioes of
Islam, aeeordieg to an epee souree study.
50


The wide availability of weapons and experienced fighters in Libya almost certainly
contributed to the lethality of the attacks.
The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qaeda
in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, Since April, there have been at least
five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants,
including the June attack against the British Ambassador' s convoy. We cannot rule out
that individuals had previously surveilled the US facilities, also contributing to the
efficacy of the attacks.
The US Government is working with Libyan authorities and intelligence partners in an
effort to help bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of US citizens.

9) Saturdav, Sept. 15th 9:45 a.m.-edits made by CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell

The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were
spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a
direct assault against the US Consulate and subsequently its annex.

This assessment may change as additional information is collected and analyzed and
currently available information continues to be evaluated. On 10 September the Agency
notified Embassy Cairo of social media reports calling for a demonstration and
encolH'aging jihadists to break into the Embassy.
The investigation is on-going, and as to vrh:o is responsible for the violence, althol:lgh the
cro·Nd almost certainly was a miJ£ of indivi:dl:lals. That being said, there are indications
that Islamic eutremists participated in the Yiolent demonstrations.

The wide aYailability of weapons and experienced fighters in Libya almost certainly
contribute to the lethality ofthe attacks.

The Agency has prodl:lced nl:lmerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al Qaeda
in Benghazi and eastern Libya. Since PqJril, there haYe been at least five other attacks
against foreign interests in Benghazi by l:lnidentified assailants, incll:lding the Jl:lne attack
aga-iftst the British Ambassador' s eonYoy. Vle eannot mle out that individuals had
previol:lSly swveilled the US facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.
the US Government is working with Libyan authorities and intelligence partners in an
effert to help bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of US citizens.

10) 11:08 a.m.-edits made by CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell

The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were
spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a
direct assault against the US Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications
that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.

51


This assessment may change as additional information is collected and analyzed and as
currently available information continues to be evaluated.
The investigation is on-going, and the US Government is working with Libyan
authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths US citizens.

11) 11 :25 a.m.-edits made by Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes


The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were
spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a
direct assault against the US diplomatic post in Benghazi Coasulette and subsequently its
annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.
This assessment may change as additional information is collected and analyzed and as
currently available information continues to be evaluated.
The investigation is on-going, and the US Government is working with Libyan
authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths US citizens.

12) 11:26 a.m.-edits made by State Department official Jake Sullivan


The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were
spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a
direct assault against the US diplomatic post in Benghazi and subsequently its annex.
There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.
This assessment may change as additional information is collected and analyzed and as
currently available information continues to be evaluated.
The investigation is on-going, and the US Government is working with Libyan
authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of US citizens.

52

APPENDIX II: Unclassified Timeline of the Benghazi Attacks
There were effectively ~hree different phases/attacks against the U.S. Temporary
Mission Facility and the CIA Annex in Benghazi on September 11-12, 2012, as
described below. 139
1. Attack on the U.S. Temporary Mission Facility at Approximately 9:40 p.m.

9:42p.m.

Video footage shows-and the Accountability Review Board
also found-that, at 9:42 p.m., a .local police vehicle stationed
outside the Temporary Mission Facility withdrew as soon as
armed attackers advanced toward the U.S. compound.
Dozens of attackers easily gained access to the TMF by scaling
and then opening the front vehicle gate.
(Over the course of the entire attack on the Mission facility, at
least 60 different attackers entered the U.S. compound.)
Ambassador Chris Stevens was in the residence of the Main
Building ("Building C"), along with a Diplomatic Security
agent, and Information Management Officer Sean Smith. The
three of them proceeded to the "safe area" in the building.
DS personnel contacted CIA personnel at the Annex to ask for
assistance.

9:45p.m.

After entering the Mission facility, the atta,ckers used diesel fuel
to set fire to the barracks/guard house of the Libyan 17th
February Brigade militia, which served as a security force
provided by the host nation for the Mission compound, and then
proceeded towards the main buildings of the compound.
The attackers then used diesel fuel to set the Main Building
ablaze where Ambassador Stevens was secured in the "safe
area." Thick smoke rapidly filled the entire structure. The
attackers moved unimpeded throughout the compound, entering .
and exiting buildings at will.

139

Times are approximate and local to Libya.

-

--

----

--

- - - - - - - - - - --

53

10:00 p.m.

A DS agent began leading the Ambassador and Sean Smith
toward the emergency escape window to escape the smoke.
Nearing unconsciousness himself, the agent opened the
emergency escape window and crawled out. He then realized
he had become separated from the Ambassador and Sean Smith
in the smoke, so he reentered and searched the building
multiple times.
The DS agent, suffering from severe smoke inhalation, climbed
a ladder to the roof where he radioed the other DS agents for
assistance.

10:03 p.m.

The CIA security team left the Annex for th~ Mission
compound after team members secured heavy weapons.

10:10 p.m.

Security team me111bers started a,rriving at the Mission facility
and made their way onto the compound in the face of enemy
fire.

10:30 p.m.

In their armored vehicle, other DS agents drove from Building
B to assist the agent on the roof of Building C who had
searched for the Ambassador and Mr. Smith. After numerous
attempts, they found Mr. S111ith, who was deceased.
The CIA security team from the Annex and some 17th February
Brigade members pushed back the attackers and secured a
perimeter around the Main Building, and the security team
joined in the search for the Ambassador.

11:10 p.m.

An unarmed, unmanned DoD surveillance aircraft arrived over
the Mission compound and soon after detected a roadblock
several blocks east of the Mission facility. During this time,
State and CIA personnel re-entered the burning compound
numerous times in an attempt to locate Ambassador Stevens,
but to no avail.

11:15 p.m.

The combined CIA and DS security team made a final search
for the Ambassador before leaving for the Annex in two
54

separate armored vehicles. One vehicle encountered heavy fire
as it ran a roadblock several blocks east of the Mission
compound.

11:30 p.m.

All U.S. personnel, except for the missing U.S. Ambassador,
arriv~d at the CIA Annex, which was approximately two
kilometers away. Sean Smith's body was also taken to the
Annex.

2. Attack on the CIA Annex from Approxiinately_11:56 p.m. uiltil1:00 a.m.
11:56 p.m.

Sporadic arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) were
fired at the Annex. Over the next hour, the Annex took
sporadic small arms fire and RPG rounds, the security team
returned fire, and the attackers dispersed.

1:00 a.m.

Local Libyans found the Ambassador at the Mission Facility
and brought him to a local hospital. Despite attempts to revive
him, Ambassador Stevens had no heartbeat and had perished
from smoke inhalation.

1:15 a.m.

A seven-man reinforcement team of additional U.S. security
personnel from Tripoli landed at the Benghazi airport and
began to negotiate with the local Libyan militias for
transportation and a security convoy to the Annex.

4:30a.m.

The security team from Tripoli· departed the airport for the
Annex after more than three hours of negotiations and
communications with Libyan officials.

3. Final Attack oil the CIA Annex at Approximately 5:15 a.m.
5:04a.m.

The security team from Tripoli arrived at the Annex.

5:15a.m.

Mortar rounds, small-arms fire, and RPGs began to hit the
Annex. Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed when
they took direct mortar fire as they engaged the enemy from the
roof of the Annex. The mortar fire also seriously injured one
55

other security officer and one DS special agent, necessitating
the evacuation of the Annex. That attack lasted only 11
minutes, then dissipated.

6:00a.m.

A heavily-armed Libyan militia unit arrived to help evacuate
the Annex of all U.S. personnel to the airport.

6:33a.m.

U.S. personnel left the Annex for the airport.

7:30a.m.

The first plane of U.S. personnel evacuated from Benghazi to
Tripoli.

10:00 a.m.

The second plane of U.S. personnel evacuated from Benghazi
to Tripoli. This flight included the bodies of the four dead Americans.

56

APPENDIX Locations of Temgorarv hlission Facility Annex

of Most Direct Route Mission to Annex

9"
i

'4
1-'1

Source: NGA, November, 2012

57

APPENDIX IV: Map from September 5, 2012, AFRICOM Report
(U) Report Title: "Libya: Extremism in Libya Past, Present, and Future."

58

This page intentionally left blank.

ADDITIONAL MAJORITY VIEWS

Overview
The Majority 140 believes that the terrorist attacks against U.S. personnel at
the Temporary Mission Facility and the Annex in Benghazi, Libya, on September
11 and 12, 2012, were likely preventable based on the known security shortfalls at
the U.S. Mission and the significant strategic (although not tactical) warnings from
the Intelligence Community (IC) about the deteriorating security situation in Libya.
Tbe Majority also believes, however, that the Benghazi attacks have been the
subject of misinformed speculation and accusations long after the basic facts of the
attacks have been determined, thereby distracting attention from more important
concerns: the tragic deaths of four brave Americans, the hunt for their attackers,
efforts by the U.S. Government to avoid future attacks, and the future of the U.S.Libya relationship.
The Majority would like to commend our Republican colleagues on the
Committee who supported this report for their earnest and thorough efforts with us
to find out what really happened in Benghazi before, during, and after the attacks,
despite the swirling controversy and pressures. To produce this report, we worked
together on a bipartisan basis to dispel the many factual inaccuracies and
con~piracy theories related to the Benghazi attacks so that the public would have a
fair and accurate accounting of the events.
We would also like to express our appreciation for the dedication and
professionalism of the workforce of the IC which, as noted in a key finding in this
report, provided strategic warning about the deteriorating security situation in
Libya and the threat to U.S. interests there in the months prior to the attacks in
Benghazi.

The Talking Points Controversy
Perhaps no issue related to Benghazi has been as mischaracterized as the
unclassified talking points prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at
the request of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) and
provided to HPSCI, this Committee, and Administration officials on September 15,

°For the purposes of this report, and this Committee, the Majority includes Independent Senator Angus King.

14

~

-

- ---- - -

-

2012. The Majority notes that the controversy over the CIA talking points
consumed a regrettable and disproportionate amount of time and energy during the
Committee's substantive review ofthe Benghazi attacks.

1. The Talking Points Were Flawed But Mostly Accurate
The Majority believes that the CIA talking points were flawed but-as
discussed in the report-painted a mostly accurate picture of the IC's analysis of
the Benghazi attacks at that time, in an unclassified form and without
compromising the nascent investigation of the attacks by the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI). In retrospect, the talking points could have and should have
been clearer. As discussed below, omissions and wording choices contributed to
sigltificant controversy and confusion, as did an erroneous reference to
"demonstrations." In addition, the Administration was slow to provide details
explaining the drafting and editing process that produced the talking points.
Speculation and conspiracy theories about the details could have been mitigated if
the factual record of how the talking points were produced was provided sooner to
this Comtnittee and to the public.
Officials in the Executive Branch and Members of Congress also added to
the confusion in the days after September 11, 2012, by inconsistently
characterizing the events in Benghazi, even though the President referred to them
as "attacks" and "acts ofterror" on September 12,2012. 141 Administration
officials provided vague and sometimes conflicting characterizations of the events
in some instances. Members of Congress also lent support to the narrative of a
protest gone awry for days following the attack. For example, in a September 22,
2012, resolution honoring the four Americans who died, the Senate unanimously
adopted the narrative that the violence in Benghazi "coincided with an attack on
the United States Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, which was also swarmed by an angry
mob of protesters on September 11, 2012." 142

2. Confusion from Use of the Term "Terrorists" vs. "Extremists"
A key point of contention was that the final talking points referred to
"extremists" rather than "terrorists." IC analysts and senior leaders such as former
141

"Remarks by the President on the Deaths of U.S. Embassy Staff in Libya," The Rose Garden, September 12,
2012.
.
142
S. Res. 588 (2012). Emphasis added.

2

CIA Director David Petraeus testified to the Committee that when describing
attackers, the word "extremist" was meant to imply that terrorist groups were
involved- and, in fact, elements of the IC routinely use the term "Islamist
extremists" when referring to al-Qaida and similar groups. 143 However, the
assumption that these two terms would be seen by the public as interchangeable
proved to be incorrect. "Extremists" and "terrorists" are not interchangeable terms.
Some in the public, Congress, and the press interpreted the use of the word
"extremist" as an attempt to downplay the role of terrorists in the Benghazi attacks.
Through the course of our review, however, we found no evidence of any effort to
downplay the role of terrorists in the Benghazi attacks.

3. The CIA Dropped the Term "Al-Qa 'ida"
It is important to reiterate that the reference to "al-Qa'ida" included in early
drafts of the talking points was removed by CIA staff, not by the White House or
the FBI, as was incorrectly alleged by some members of Congress and the press. ·
The reference was removed in an internal CIA draft prior to dissemination to the
interagency process and prior to senior CIA leadership viewing the draft. These
facts are corroborated by emails provided to the Committee on a "read and return"
basis on February 26,2013, and made public on May 15,2013.
According to testimony before the Committee by General Counsel for the
Director ofNational Intelligence (DNI) Robert Litton February 26, 2013, the
reference to "al""Qa'ida" was removed to protect intelligence sources and methods.
This rationale was neither confirmed nor refuted in the emails provided. However,
according to testimony by former CIA Director David Petraeus, when the talking
points were drafted, classified sources and methods did exist that linked a specific
terrorist group to the attack, but the IC did not yet have an unclassified factual
basis for connecting the attacks to any group formally affiliated with or selfaffiliated with al-Qa'ida. 144 In addition, the CIA staff who edited the points made
changes eliminating "al-Qa'ida" and "Ansar al-Sharia" to ensure that the points
contained no information that could either: ( 1) reveal intelligence sources and
methods or (2) compromise the FBI investigation by prematurely attributing
responsibility for the attacks to any one person or group, thereby pre-judging a

143

Statement by David Petraeus, Former CIA Director, Hearing with General David Petraeus Re: His Knowledge of
the Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya, November 16, 2012, p. 17, SSCI Docwnent Tracking System.
144
1bid,p.16-17.

3

potential prosecution and making it harder to charge other perpetrators in the
future. 145

4. There Were No Protests in Benghazi
We now know that the CIA's September 15, 2012, talking points were
inaccurate in that they wrongly attributed the genesis of the Benghazi attacks to
protests that became violent. However, as stated in the report, this characterization
reflected the assessment by the IC of the information available at that time, which
lacked sufficient intelligence and eyewitness statements to conclude that there
were no protests. Further, it is important to remember that this early assessment
was made in the context of approximately 40 protests around the globe against
U.S. embassies and consulates in response to an inflammatory film. There were
also other violent attacks against U.S. embassies and consulates in Egypt, Tunisia,
Yemen and other cities around the world on or after September 11. According to
CIA emails dated September 16, 2012, the then-Deputy Director of the CIA
requested further information from CIA staff at Embassy Tripoli about whether
there was countervailing evidence of protests that occurred prior to the attacks in
Benghazi. It was not until September 24, 20 12-eight days later-that the IC
revised its assessment that there were no protests leading up to the attacks (see
discussion in the main report under Finding #9 for bipartisan Committee views on
the development of the intelligence picture after the attacks).

5. The Talking Points Went Through the_Normal Interagency Coordination
Process
The Majority concludes that the interagency coordination process on the
talking points followed normal, but rushed coordination procedures and that there
were no efforts by the White House or any other Executive Branch entities to
14

s According to the CIA, the talking points editors at the Agency were influenced by an email from an officer in the
National Clandestine Service saying that the part of the original talking points stating that "we do know that Islamic
extremists with ties to al-Qa'ida participated in the attack" implied complicity in the deaths of the Americans and
therefore could compromise the FBI investigation. The CIA employee who drafted the first version of the points
therefore agreed iliat because it was still unknown precisely who was responsible for the Benghazi attacks, the
language of the third version of the talking points should be changed to say "we know that they [Islamic extremists]
participated in the protests." Although the CIA personnel editing points did not make this change, "attack" in the
second bullet was changed to "violent demonstrations," effectively accomplishing the same purpose. In addition,
the word "attacks" in the first bullet of the talking points was changed to "demonstrations." The CIA staff editing
the talking points also then deleted the mention in the second bullet of the extremists who participated having ''ties
to al-Qa'ida." See report from Michael J. Morell, "Lessons Learned from Formulation of Unclassified Talking
Points re the Events in Benghazi, 11-12 September 2012," August 6, 2013, p. 4.

4

"cover-up" facts or make alterations for political purposes. Indeed, former CIA
Director David Petraeus testified to the Committee on November 16, 2012, "They
went through the normal process that talking points-unclassified public talking
146
points-go through."
In fact, the purpose of the National Security Council
(NSC) is to coordinate the many national security agencies of the government,
especially when information about a terrorist attack is flowing in and being
analyzed quickly-and the NSC used this role appropriately in the case of the
talking points coordination. Furthermore, such coordination processes were also
standardized, often at the urging of Congress, following the September 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks with the explicit goal of reducing information "stovepipes"
between a.Ild among agencies.

6. Conclusion
The Majority agrees that the process to create the talking points was not
without problems, so we join our Republican colleagues in recommending-as we
do in the report-that in responding to future requests for unclassified talking
points from Congress, the IC should simply tell Congress which facts are
unclassified and let Members of Congress provide additional context for the
public. However, we sincerely hope that the public release of the emails on May
15, 2013, that describe the creation of the talking points, and the evidence
·presented in this report, will end the misinformed and unhelpful talking points
controversy once and for all.

DIANNE FElNSTEIN
JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER

IV

RONWYDEN
BARBARA A. MIKULSKI
MARK UDALL
MARK WARNER
MARTlN HEINRICH
ANGUS KING

146

Statement by David Petraeus, Former CIA Director, Hearing with General David Petraeus Re: His Knowledge of
the Attacks on U.S. Facilities _in Benghazi, Libya, November 16,2012, p. 24.

5

'

-

~

---

-

- -- - -

-

ADDITIONAL VIEWS OF VICE CHAIRMAN CHAMBLISS AND
SENATORS BURR, RISCH, COATS, RUBIO, AND COBURN

Over a year has passed since the terrorist attacks on U.S. facilities in
Benghazi, Libya, claimed the lives of four brave Americans-Glen Doherty, Sean
Smith, Christopher Stevens, and Tyrone Woods. The Senate Select Committee on
Intelligence endeavored to conduct a thorough and bipartisan review of the events
and circumstances surrounding these attacks. The Comtnittee's report, the SSCI
Review a/Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, September 11-12, 2012,
offers findings and recommendations that we hope will improve intelligence
collection and analysis, information sharing, and the physical security for
Americans serving overseas in our diplomatic and intelligence facilities.
While the Committee has completed its report, important questions remain
unanswered as a direct result of the Obama Administration's failure to provide the
Committee with access to necessary documents and witnesses. We believe the
Administration's lack of cooperation is directly contrary to its statutory obligation
to keep the congressional intelligence committees fully and currently informed and
has effectively obstructed the Committee's efforts to get to the ground truth with
respect to these remaining questions. Too often, providing timely and complete
information to Congress is viewed by the Administration as optional or an
accommodation, rather than compliance with a statutory requirement. It is our
view that the Comtnittee should have held a vote to exercise its subpoena power to
end this obstruction, once and for all, in the early stages of the review.
As we prepared these Additional Views, the Executive branch .still has not
provided all relevant documents to the Committee. Other documents have been
provided to the Committee on a "read only" basis, meaning that the Committee
Was only permitted to view them for a limited period of time, while being
supervised by the coordinating agency, and had to rely upon our notes when
preparing the report, Significantly, key Executive branch witnesses who were
directly involved in decisions that affected the ability of the United States to
defend or respond to these attacks have declined our invitations to be interviewed
by the Committee, even after being returned to full duty by the State Department.
In other cases, the testimony provided to the Committee contradicted written
documents we reviewed, or-as with some of the testimony by the Under ·
Secretary of State for Management, Patrick Kennedy-was particularly specious.

We understand that mistakes can be made during the back-and-forth of oral
testimony, but when that occurs, the Intelligence Community (IC) and the
Executive branch have historically been quick to correct the record. Yet, we are
still waiting for some of these troubling contradictions to be resolved. Further, in
what is becoming an habitual refrain, the Administration has made repeated and
spurious claims of the "executive" and "deliberative process" privileges, serving to
deny information to the Committee that was otherwise relevant to our review.
Similarly, information has been withheld from the Committee because oftbe
"ongoing criminal investigation" into the attacks, in an apparent effort to shield
certain government agencies from congressional oversight or potential
embarrassment. We have also learned that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has
developed significant information about the attacks and the suspected attackers that
is not being shared with Congress, even where doing so would not in any way
impact an ongoing investigation.

Complete Absence ofAccountability
In the course of this review, we have come to the unavoidable conclusion
that, for an event marked by significant failures, one of the biggest failures is the
Administration's complete refusal or inability to attain accountability-from the
attackers themselves and from those U.S. Government officials who made poor
management decisions relating to the Benghazi facilities. This is not a charge we
bring lightly, but it is one clearly substantiated by the facts. We recognize that
sometimes circumstances are simply beyond our control, but the Benghazi attacks
do not !all into this category of chance. Prior to the attacks, senior U.S.
Government officials were aware of the deteriorating security situation and
. tenuous physical security of the Temporary Mission Facility in Benghazi, but did
little, if anything, of consequence about it. The U.S. government personnel on the
ground in Benghazi raised constant alarms in the months before September 2012.
The combination ofthese alarms with the multitude of prior attacks in the
Benghazi area should have spurred swift action by State Department officials in
Washington. It did not. ·Many times, the lack of congressional funding is used by
an Administration to downplay its own role or minimize responsibility; but in this
case, this excuse simply cannot justify highly questionable management decisions.
To date, in spite of legitimate questions about the actions of these senior officials
raised by our own review, the reviews of other congressional committees, and the
Accountability Review Board, not one person has faced disciplinary action of any
consequence.
2

I

-

----

--

We believe the background of one senior State Department official made
him uniquely situated to anticipate the potential for a terrorist attack on the
Benghazi facilities. Prior to the 1998 East Africa Embassy bombings which killed
12 Americans, Under Secretary Kennedy was serving as the Assistant Secretary of
State for Administration, and concurrently served as the Acting Assistant Secretary
of State for Diplomatic Security. Coincidentally, some of the same failures
identified by the report of the Accountability Review Board following the 1998
Embassy bombings were noted by the Benghazi Accountability Review Board.
Mr. Kennedy later served in key positions in Iraq, in the immediate aftermath of
the toppling of Saddam Hussein, and in the IC. The threat of terrorism, including
against U.S. facilities, was not new to him, and given the security situation in
Benghazi, the attacks could have been foreseen. Given the threat enviro:tunetlt, Mr.
Kennedy should have used better judgment and should be held accountable.
We are equally disturbed by the Administration's ongoing failure to secure
justice and accountability for those responsible for these attacks. Despite the
President's promise, not a single suspected attacker is in custody. Ahmed Abu
Khattala, whom the press reports has been charged by the United States for his lead
role in the attacks, continues to live freely in Libya while giving taunting
interviews to major media outlets. Yet, inexplicably, U.S. diplomacy cannot seem
to secure his capture so he can be detained and fully interrogated before any
criminal proceedings are initiated. Other leading suspects, such as Faraj al-Chalabi
and Ali Ani al-Harzi, also remain free, including after failed diplomatic efforts by
the Secretary of State relating to al-Harzi's capture and interrogation. As we
discuss la,ter in these views, the President's failure to develop a clear, cogent
detention and interrogation policy and his refusal to yield on sending new terrorists
to Guan4tnatno Bay have had-and will continue to have-far-reaching
consequences for our national security, as exemplified by the events relating to
Benghazi. There simply is no justification, not even an ill-conceived campaign
promise, for not doing more to capture and interrogate terrorists who caused the
deaths of four Americans. The United States can and should do better. We have
heard the excuse that these terrorists cannot be captured because Libya is a
dangerous operating environment. Yet, the same Administration offering this
excuse somehow managed to recently capture al-Qa'ida operative Abu Anas alLibi in Tripoli, briefly interrogate him, and bring him to the United States for
prosecution for his role in the 1998 Embassy bombings. We believe a similar

3

result is possible here, but only if the U.S. Government more aggressively pursues
justice for these attacks against our nation.
Manipulating the Facts

When American citizens are murdered in terrorist attacks against our nation,
we believe the Executive branch has a particular obligation, beyond statutory
requirements, to openly and fully cooperate with congressional efforts to
investigate and understand these matters, no matter how potentially embarrassing
or inconvenient. That certainly has not been the case here. From the beginning,
the Administration's handling of the Benghazi attacks has been a source of
confusion to Congress, the American people, other nations, and-most
significantly"""=""the families of those killed in Benghazi. From the refusal to clearly
explain the decisions by, and interactions of, the President, the Secretary of
Defense, and the Secretary of State on the night of the attacks to the talking points
fiasco, the Administration's response has been notable for its deficiencies. Many
of us were frustrated and astounded by the great pains the Administration took
after the attacks to avoid the clear linkage of what happened in Benghazi to the
threat of international terrorism. Contrary to the long-standing commitment of the
Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA) to provide timely information to the Committee following any
terrorist attack or attempted attack, we were given neither prompt nor adequate
information about the Benghazi attacks. Instead, we were subjected to Sunday
news programs, carefully crafted speeches, and delayed briefings-all designed to
label the terrorist attacks as violent demonstrations spontaneously inspired by an
obscure anti-Muslim film that has long since been forgotten.
Maybe we would be less skeptical if there were not so many examples of
this Administration downplaying the very real threat of international terrorism.
The Fort Hood terrorist attack by Nidal Hasan was labeled "workplace violence,"
despite Hasan's email comrhunications with al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula
cleric, Anwar al-Aulaqi, in the months before he opened fire, killing 13 and
wounding 32 military and civilian personnel in 2009. Another Aulaqi protege,
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was treated as an ordinary criminal and given
Miranda warnings, despite being captured after failing to detonate plastic
explosives on a Northwest Airlines flight over Detroit on December 25, 2009.
Then there was Faisal Shahzad, the incompetent Times Square bomber, whose car
bomb failed to detonate in May 2010. The Administration tried to spin Shahzad as
4

a one-off lone wolf until the media discovered he had traveled to Pakistan for five
months and trained with the Pakistani Taliban. As with Benghazi, the
Administration's obligation to provide information to Congress about those cases
seemed to be superseded by a desire to script the message that al-Qa'ida had been
decimated or to protect a criminal investigation in spite of equally vital intelligence
prerogatives.

The Talking Points
The obstruction faced by the Committee during its review is epitomized by
the months-long saga involving the CIA's Benghazi talking points. In the
immediate aftermath of September 11th, the Committee began asking the IC who
was likely responsible for the attacks and what the intelligence was indicating. At
the same time, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence requested
unclassified talking points from the CIA that could be used by Members in
responding to press inquiries. Rather than simply provide Congress with the best
intelligence and on-the-ground assessments, the Administration chose to try to
frame the story in a way that minimized any connection to terrorism. Before the
Benghazi attacks-in the lead-up to the 2012 presidential election, the
Administration had continued to script the narrative that al-Qa'ida had been
decimated and was on the run. The Benghazi terrorist attacks inconveniently, and
overwhelmingly, interfered with this fictitious and politically-motivated storyline.
Thus, the story as told through the talking points and repeated on the Sunday talk
shows became one of a protest or demonstration gone awry, rather than an act of
terrorism against the United States by individ11als with ties to al-Qa'ida. Until the
forthright testimony of the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center
(NCTC) on September 19, 2012, 147 no one in the Administration-from the
148
President on doWI1-had publicly called Benghazi the terrorist attack it clearly
was. Yet, when the Administration was questioned after the NCTC Director's

147

Matthew G. Olsen, Director ofNCTC, Testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental

A/[~irs Committee during Hearing on Homeland Threats and Agency Responses, September 19, 2012.
1

In his Rose Garden speech the day after the Benghazi attacks, the President passed up at least ten opportunities to
clearly identify the Benghazi attacks as terrorist attacks. Instead, he chose to use the following: "killed in an
. attack," "outrageous and shocking attack," "killers who attacked," ''this type of senseless violence," ''these brutal
acts," ''this attack," "fought back against the attackers," ''this attack in Benghazi," ''this terrible act," and ''those of
their attackers." His statement'-"No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation"-does nothing to
resolve this shortcoming, as its placement in this speech simply creates ambiguity in whether it refers to the
previously cited terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, or is meant to include the Benghazi terrorist attacks as well.
I

5

testimony, IC officials, including the Director and Deputy Director of the CIA, said
they knew instantly during the attacks that it was terrorism. 149
As the Committee began to receive intelligence relating to the attacks, it
became clear that the narrative conveyed through the talking points and during the
Sunday talk shows did not stand up to scrutiny. We now know that the talking
points, as originally drafted by the CIA, included the words "al-Qa'ida," "Ansar alSharia," and "attacks," and spoke of other attacks against foreign interests in
Benghazi. There was no mention of a protest gone awry outside the Temporary
Mission Facility. Yet, through an "interagency, process" that specifically included
coordination with and by the White House, the message was recast to downplay or
eliminate these references and minimize any potential embarrassment to the State
Department for its failure to heed earlier security warnings.
Rather than openly engage with the Committee on how the talking points
were drafted, the Administration resisted repeated Committee efforts to learn who
was involved and what changes were made, including by imposing unreasonable
restrictions on Member and staff access to the same information about the talking
points that would eventually be released to the public. Not until the nomination of
John Brennan to be the next Director of the CIA was pending before the
Committee, did the Administration even consider addressing the Committee's
requests, albeit still with resistance. In response to specific requests by the
CollllUittee for the full paper trail, the emails documenting the changes in the
talking points drafts, they chose to provide a re-creation of the drafts by the ODNI
and simply on a "read only" basis. These conditions meant there was no
opportunity for in-depth, ongoing exploration by Members or staff of the paper
trail. As the Administration well knows, the "read only" practice is often used to
"check the box" on providing information to Congress, but to do so in a way that is
simply not helpful to congressional oversight as it denies ready and complete
access to documents. It took seven months before these emails were finally
disclosed in full to Congress, and to the public in redacted form.
Compounding this resistance, no effort was made to correct the record when,
during testimony before the Committee in late 2012, the Acting Director of the
CIA emphatically stated that the talking points were sent to the White House "for
149

See, e.g., SSCI Transcript, Hearing on the Attacks in Benghazi, November 15,2012, pp. 55, 62, 65, and 116-118;
and SSCI Transcript, Hearing with General David Petraeus Re: His Knowledge of the Attacks on U.S. Facilities in
Benghazi, Libya, November 16,2012, pp. 17 and 83-84.

6

their awareness, not for their coordination." 150 The emails, which the Committee
received later, clearly show that the White House was, from the earliest moments,
asked to "coordinate" on the talking points. 151 This may seem, to some, like a
distinction without a difference, but in the world of Federal government
interactions, "coordination" carries with it a level of involvement and
responsibility to overrule or influence that is not present when information is
conveyed simply "for awareness." The measure of White House influence can be
seen in a September 15, 2012, email 152 from then-CIA Director David Petraeus
acknowledging that, in spite of his own misgivings, the final content of the talking
points was the "[National Security Staffs] call, to be sure." In contrast, the Acting
Director's testimony perpetuated the myth that the White House played no part in
the drafting or editing of the talking points. Today, it remains unclear exactly what
was discussed during the Deputies Committe¢ meeting that resulted in the final
version of the talking points--or even who was present besides the Acting Director
of the CIA, who actually made the edits. These ate basic questions that should
have been readily answered in the interests of transparency and accountability.

Disturbing Lack of Cooperation by the State Department
As the Committee attempted to piece together key events before, during, and
after the attacks, we faced the most significant and sustained resistance from the
State Department in obtaining documents, access to witnesses, and responses to
questions. The Committee does, on occasion, deal with "jurisdictional" obstacles
that bureaucratically arise when we seek information relevant to an intelligenc~
matter, simply because the holder of the information is not an element of the IC.
Ou.r review of the Benghazi attacks was no different. Even though the attacks
involved IC employees and the CIA Annex and it was CIA personnel who came to
the aid of the personnel at the Temporary Mission Facility, the State Department
swiftly asserted questionable jurisdictional objections and resisted full cooperation
with our review. We surmise that this lack of forthrightness stems from a desire to
protect individual political careers, now and in the future, and the Department's
reputation, at the expense of learning all the facts and apportioning responsibility.

150

SSCI Transcript, Hearing on the Attacks in Benghazi, November 15, 2012, p. 54.
See Jonathan Karl and Chris Good, "The Benghazi Emails: Talking Points Changed at State Dept.'s Request,"
ABC News, May 15, 2013, abcnews.go.com/Politics/Benghazi-emails-talking-points-changed-state-deptstequest/story?id= 1918713 7 (provides a link to the declassified and redacted emails at
abcnews.go.com/images/Politics/white-house-benghazi-emails.pdf, p. 9).
152
Ibid., p. 95.
151

-

--

-~-

-

-

-

-

---

--

7

Ironically, the State Department was not shy about voicing its concerns and
objections to the Committee's draft report. In written comments, State made a
concerted effort to downplay the Department's responsibility for ensuring the
physical security of its employees and facilities overseas. For example, State
repeatedly attempted to minimize its own culpability for the lack of security
precautions by pointing to the fact that the same number of people died at the CIA
Annex as at the Temporary Mission Facility and, therefore, CIA should be equally
criticized for its own security at the Annex. 153 The logic is remarkable for its
boldness, but neither helpful nor persuasive. The two security officers who were
killed at the Annex were on the roof, in the act of defending the Annex, when they
were struck by mortars. It is likely no amount of added physical security at the
Annex would have prevented their deaths. Conversely, the Ambassador and Sean
Smith were killed at the Temporary Mission Facility by attackers who easily
gained unfettered access to the compound. There is a tremendous difference
between a fortified facility that suffers a fatal blow from a mortar attack and a
porous compound that yields to a basic ground assault. Yet, in an attempt to
absolve itself of responsibility, State absurdly equated these scenarios. Moreover,
this simplistic "numbers" argument fails to account for the likelihood that there
would have been more American casualties, but for the successful rescue efforts by
the Annex personnel.

Failures in Leadership-State Department
While many individuals with information relevant to our review wete more
than forthcoming with the Committee, we are particularly disappointed that
Charlene Lamb, who was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International
Programs, has refused to explain to the Committee why certain decisions were
made concerning enhanced security at the Temporary Mission Facility and who
ultimately was responsible for those decisions. The Committee extended
invitations to Ms. Lamb on three occasions prior to and after her reinstatementeach time, she refused to meet with the Committee. 154 Unfortunately, even after
Ms. Lamb was returned to full duty, the State Department did not make het
available to the Committee, something we believe should have been a priority for
both Ms. Lamb and the State Department. Based on what we have learned during
the Committee's review, we believe Ms. Lamb's testimony is critical to
153

"Intelligence Community Response, Fact-Based & Substantive Review Only Regarding SSCI Report of Terrorist
Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi," August 30, 2013.
154
The Committee extended invitations to Ms. Lamb through State on November 19,2012, July 12,2013, and
August 20, 2013.

8

determining why the leadership failures in the State Department occurred and the
specific extent to which these failures reached into its highest levels.
We know from the testimony ofEric Nordstrom, who served as the Regional
Security Officer in Libya until shortly before the attacks, that Ms. Lamb and other
senior State Department officials were unreceptive to repeated requests from the
Libyan mission regarding security personnel in both Tripoli and Benghazi.
According to Mr. Nordstrom, the previous U.S. Ambassador to Libya, GeneCretz,
and his Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM), Joan Polaschik, traveled to Washington
in mid-February 2012 to specifically ask for additional security personnel. 155 in
addition to meeting with Ms. Lamb, they met separately with Mr. Kennedy and
other senior officials. Yet, when the Libyan mission transmitted its official request
for additional security personnel on March 28, 2012, the pushback from Ms.
Lamb's office was swift and significant. While the request, which included five
temporary duty Diplomatic Security agents in Benghazi, was clearly reasonable,
one of Ms. Lamb's subordinates asked Mr. Nordstrom why the official cable
. sought "the sun, the moon, and the stars." When Mr. Nordstrom stated that he did
not understand why this was an issue, the response from Ms. Lamb's office Was
telling: "Well, you know, this is a political game. You have to not make us look
156
bad here, that we're not being responsive."
in a disturbingly prophetic e-mail to
DCM Polaschik following this exchange, Mr. Nordstrom wrote:
I doubt we will ever get [Diplomatic Security] to admit in writing
what I was told [in] reference [to] Benghazi that OV[International
Programs] was directed by Deputy Assistant Secretary Lamb to cap
the agents in Benghazi at 3, and force post to hire local drivers. This
is apparently a verbal policy only but one which DSIIP/[Near Eastern
Affairs] doesn't plan to violate. I hope that nobody is injured as a
result of an incident in Benghazi, since it would be particularly
embarrassing to both DS and DAS [Lamb] if it was a result of some
. 157
sort o f .game th ey are p1aymg.
According to Mr. Nordstrom, Ms. Lamb was also vocal about her
unwillingness to provide additional security personnel, including support of an
extension of the Department of Defense (DoD) Site Security Team. Mr.
SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff Interview of Eric Nordstrom, June 27, 2013, pp. 5 and 26.
156
Ibid., p. 28.
157
See ibid., pp. 24-25.
155

9

Nordstrom told the Committee that Ms. Lamb claimed it would be embarrassing
and give Libya more security agents than in Yemen and Pakistan. 158 In reality, as
Mr. Nordstrom explained to both Ms. Lamb and the Committee, the Embassies in
Sana'a and Islamabad actually complied with the Overseas Security Policy Board
security standards and had security systems in place. On July 9, 2012, the Libyan
mission sent another formal request for additional security per~onnel. The State
Department never responded to this request in the form of a cable. According to
Mr. Nordstrom, Ms. Lamb said that a response had been drafted, but Was "lost in
159
the shuffle."
Mr. Nordstrom's testimony does not stand alone. We heard of
similar difficulties with Ms. Lamb from Gregory Hicks, the former DCM who
arrived in Tripoli just over one month before the attacks. In a May 20 12 briefing
with Ms. Lamb as he prepared for his new assignment, he pushed back on the
proposed security complement, but "did not get a favorable response" from Ms.
Lamb.I6o
While Ms. Lamb should be held accountable for her actions in failing to
provide better security in .Benghazi, we believe that Mr. Kennedy, as the Under
Secretary for Management, bears a specific responsibility for these lapses.
According to DCM Hicks, the Libyan mission had a very unique status in that it
was effectively on "ordered departure" status at all times. DCM Hicks also told
the Committee that Mr. Kennedy approved every person who went to Libya and
received a daily report on the number of personilel, their names, and their status. 161
Moreover, while Mr. Kennedy never responded to the Libyan mission's request for
additional security personnel, he did specifically decline an offer from Lieutenant
General Robert Neller, U.S. Matine Corps, Director of Operations, J3, the Joint
Staff, to sustain or provide additional DoD security personnel in Libya by
extending the deployment of the DoD Site Security Team in Tripoli,_transitioning
to a Marine Security Detachment, or deploying a U.S. Marine Corps Fleet
Antiterrorism Security Team. 162 In short, he had direct insight into the security
situation at all times, had received DoD offers of assistance, and affirmatively
declined to improve the Libyan mission's security posture.
158

Ibid., pp. 4 and 32.
Ibid., p. 60.
160
SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff interview ofGregory Hicks and Mark Thompson, June 12,2013, p. 10.
161
SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff interview ofGregory Hicks, June 19,2013, p. 5.
162
Email from Lieutenant General Robert B. Neller, U.S.M.C., JCS J3, to Patrick Kennedy, July 11,2012,2:46 PM;
email from Papick Kennedy to Lieutenant General Neller, July 13, 2012, 6:31 PM ("We are not/not requesting an
exte_ilsion of the team; and deeply appreciate the support we have had. We have fmally been able to obtain weapons
permits for the 11 new locally engaged Embassy bodyguards late last week and are in the process of integrating
them into our operations.").
159

10

Ultimately, however, the final responsibility for security at diplomatic
facilities lies with the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Because the
Temporary Mission Facility in Benghazi did not meet the security standards set by
the State Department, it would have required a waiver to be occupied. Although
certain waivers of the standards could have been approved at a lower level, other
departures, such as the co-location requirement, could only be approved by the
Secretary ofState} 63 At the end of the day, she was responsible for ensuring the
safety of all Americans serving in our diplomatic facilities. Her failure to do so
clearly made a difference in the lives of the four murdered Americans and their
families.
The State Department's inordinate effort to minimize management failures
contrasts sharply with its public commitment to accountability. At the same time,
a strong case can be made that State engaged in retaliation against witnesses who
were willing to speak with Congress. No reasonable explanation accounts for the
State Department's unacceptable treatment of these witnesses, at the same time it
returned to active duty witnesses such as Ms. Lamb who were shielded from, or
actively avoided, Committee requests for interviews.

Failures in Leadershi~General Dempsey
The failures in leadership relating to Benghazi were not limited to the State
Department. The tenure ofthe Chairman ofthe Joint Chiefs of Staff, General
Martin Dempsey, has been marked by what we view as significant deficiencies in
command. From Syria to Benghazi, there has been either a profound inability or
clear unwillingness to identify and prevent problems before they arise. Given the
known operating environment in Benghazi, much less North Africa, a strong
military leader would have ensured there was a viable plan in place to rescue
Americans should the need arise. We understand the Department of Defense
cannot plan for a rescue operation of every Embassy or diplomatic facility across
the globe, but Benghazi was different given its hostile environment and lack of
host nation security and support. Yet, there was no such plan. General Dempsey's
attempts to excuse inaction by claiming that forces were not deployed because they
would not have gotten there in time does not pass the common sense test. No one
knew when the attacks against our facilities in Benghazi would end, or how
aggressive the attacks would be. That is the whole point of a pre-established
163

SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff Interview of Eric Nordstrom, June 27, 2013, pp. 36-37.

ll

emergency rescue plan-so that the length of the attack alone does not dictate the
rescue or survival of Americans. Understanding that the State Department bears
ultimate responsibility for the safety of Americans serving in diplomatic facilities
abroad, General Dempsey should have ensured that plan was in place, but he failed
to do so.
A strong military leader would also have ensured that his commanders in the
field were fully aware of all United States personnel, including CIA personnel,
who were located within their areas of responsibility. Yet, the Committee has
confirmed that General Carter Ham, as the Commander of U.S. Africa Command,
was not even aware there was a CIA annex in Benghazi at the time of the atta-cks.
We are puzzled as to how the military leadership expected to effectively respond
and rescue Americans in the event of an emergency when it did not even know of
the existence of one of the U.S. facilities. The fate of United States personnel
serving in dangerous areas ofthe world should not rest on ad hoc rescue
operations, no matter how heroic, simply because the United States Government
and its civilian and military leaders have failed in their collective responsibilities to
provide security and potentially life-saving assistance.
Continued Fall-out from No Detention Policy
As we learn from the errors and failures surrounding Benghazi, we believe
one critical area of national security policy must be reexamined and changed by
this Administration. President Obama and his Administration must end their
efforts to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and must develop a clear,
cogent policy for the detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists. Since the
President ordered Guantanamo' s closure in 2009, we have witnessed a dangerous
tendency to either not detain terrorism suspects or to conduct all-too-brief
intelligence interrogations, followed by the inevitable reading of Miranda rights
and appointment of counsel which often ends the interrogation. Amazingly, the
same Administration that has demanded the closure of the state-of the-art detention
facility at Guantanamo has vigorously·embraced the use of floating prisons for
conducting brief intelligence interrogations overseas. This approach is not only at
odds with the spirit of the Geneva Conventions, but it fails to recognize how good
intelligence collection can work if given the time to do so.
Intelligence collection and criminal prosecutions can work hand-in-hand, but
we should not sacrifice intelligence collection simply because of the political
12

unwillingness to detain a terrorist without criminal charges. Deta~ning and
interrogating terrorism suspects--such as those believed to be involved in
Benghazi-at Guantanamo Bay or other viable facilities outside the United States,
as the law clearly provides, would ensure that we are maximizing the collection of
vital intelligence, while still preserving the option to bring criminal charges.
Instead, this Administration has chosen to return to a pre-9/11 mindset in which
criminal charges take precedence over intelligence collection. As we saw with the
1998 Embassy bombings, the bombing ofthe USS Cole in 2000, and the
September 11, 200 1, terrorist attacks, this approach did not work then, and it does
not work today. It is the perpetuation of this mindset that we believe is d_irectly
responsible for the Administration's failure to secure justice for those suspected of
involvement in the attacks. If this Administration were serious about holding
terrorists accountable for causing the deaths of American citizens, Khattala, alChalabi, and al-Harzi would today be at Guantanamo, instead of being free to
continue to threaten Americans. We have heard the statistics about successful
criminal prosecutions of terrorists; but at the end of the day, if we are not gathering
the intelligence needed to prevent attacks and capture terrorists before they harm
us, those statistics will neither help us protect this country nor provide much
comfort to the families of those whose fate may be prematurely determined by
terrorist attacks.
Aside from enabling key intelligence collection, long-term detention serves
another invaluable function-it keeps dangerous terrorists behind bars. As the
Committee's report notes, in the months leading up to the Benghazi terrorist
attacks, the IC provided multiple warnings about terrorist activities in the region,
including by al-Qa'ida and its affiliates. As press reports prior to and after the
attacks indicate, there was particular concern about the rise of Ansar al-Shatia, the
group involved in the Benghazi attacks that, according to public reports, was
founded by former Guantanamo detainee Sufian bin Qumu.
Following the 2009 Executive order to close Guantanamo, there has been a
concerted effort by this Administration to downplay the recidivist activities of
former Guantanamo detainees in support of its overtly political goal to transfer as
many detainees as possible to foreign countries and even to the United States.
Listening to supporters of this ill-advised Executive order, one would believe that
former detainees have universally rejected their terrorist associations and are now
living peaceably throughout the world. The facts say otherwise. The recidivism
rate among all former detainees is now over 29% and rising consistently. We
13

know that al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula has counted former detainees among
its leaders and members. Yet, the Administration continues to press for the release
of more detainees, even to locations plagued by terrorism and amidst evidence that
they will not be effectively monitored by host countries. Not every detainee must
be held indefinitely, but not one should be released unless it is absolutely clear that
he will no longer pose a threat to the United States or our interests. We simply
cannot risk another Sufian bin Qumu being involved in terrorist activities that
result in the deaths of American citizens.

Unanswered Questions
We believe the Committee's report has adequately reviewed and reported on
the actions by the IC relating to B.enghazi. Due to the issues outlined above,
however, this review did not exhaust every question or provide every answer
relating to these attacks. There remain important issues that should be addressed
by congressional committees With express jurisdiction over these matters. It is our
hope that the Committee's report and these Additional Views will assist in the
eventual disclosure of those facts necessary to determine why our personnel and
facilities in Benghazi were so vulnerable to attack. For example, we believe the
issues of accountability and retaliation within the State Department must be fully
explored by a committee that can and will use its subpoena authority to obtain
information from an uncooperative State Department. It is wholly unsatisfactory
that no one has borne responsibility for the poor policy decisions regarding the
security of the Benghazi facility that appear to have been made at the highest levels
of the Department. As we noted, the ultimate accountability lies with the former
Secretary of State, and we believe there should be a full examination of her role in
these events, including on the night of the attacks.
Questions also remain about who took the deployment of the Foreign
Emergency Support Team (FEST) "off the table" and why this decision was made.
The Committee has been told that this decision was made during a meeting that
included Mr. Kennedy, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense.
While we believe the military should have been the first response, the FEST's
terrorism response mission-and previous deployments following the 1998 East
Africa Embassy bombings and the 2000 USS Cole bombing, should have put them
squarely in play. Yet, in what seems to be an unwillingness by State Department
leadership to acknowledge that Benghazi was a terrorist incident, the decision was ·
made to not deploy the FEST. The Committee interviewed Mark Thompson,
14

Deputy Coordinator for Operations at the State Department, who b~lieved that the
FEST option was taken off the table because of safety concerns. As Mr.
Thompson testified before the Committee, this rationale did not make sense, given
that the discussion was about sending the FEST to Tripoli or a nearby country, not
·
to Benghazi. 164
Similarly, there must be a full examination of our military response, or lack
thereof. The CIA and other elements of the IC do, and must continue to, gather
intelligence in dangerous areas of the world, as they did in Benghazi. Once they
are asked to do so, however, we must do more to keep them safe. We appreciate
that steps have been taken to ensure that U.S. assets can be deployed more quickly
in the future, but the Benghazi families are entitled to understand the full facts
surrounding response decisions made during the attacks. Only with the airing of
these facts can supposition and conjecture be put to rest, and be replaced with full
accountability.
Recently, new questions surfaced regarding the accuracy of information
provided to Congress by the CIA about nondisclosure agreements signed by
security officers who were present during the attacks. We have heard and
understand the CIA's oral and written explanations for why these new agreements
were needed, but are troubled by the lack of clarity in their initial response and the
fact that this discrepancy had to be pointed out by personnel formerly associated
with the CIA. As with other matters in this review, the Administration's lack of
transparency and candor is raising more questions than the underlying discrepancy
itself. At the same time, the Committee has learned that the CIA Inspector General
did not investigate complaints relating to the Benghazi attacks from CIA
whistleblowers. Whether these complaints are ultimately substantiated or
dismissed is irrelevant. On a matter of this magnitude involving the deaths of four
Americans, the Inspector General has a singular obligation to take seriously and
fully investigate any allegation of wrongdoing. His failure to do so raises
significant questions that we believe the Committee must explore more fully.
Finally, we believe the role of the White House must be fully explored. As
we write these Additional Views, we are still without a full understanding of the
substance of the Deputies Committee meeting that resulted in the final changes to
the talking points, and we have yet to receive a clear explanation of the specific
164

SSCI Transcript, Member and Staff Interview of Gregory Hicks and Mark Thompson, June 12, 2013, pp. 32 and

38.

15

interactions among the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of
State on the night of the attacks. This is not a call for Situation Room photos. It is
a demand for the truth that is owed the American people.

Conclusion
The failures of Benghazi can be summed up this way: the Americans
serving in Libya were vulnerable; the State Department knew they were
vulnerable; and no one in the Administration really did anything about it. The
Intelligence Coillll1unity does not collect intelligence about threats to our security
in dangerous place so it can be ignored by senior decisionmakers. Nor should a
Regional Security Officer's repeated warnings go unheeded. Yet, the intelligence
and warnings from the field were met by this Administration with a deafening
silence. The four Americans who perished in Benghazi deserved better from their
country. Their families, who have been waiting over a year for promised justice
and answers, are entitled to know the truth about what happened and why. It is our
intent that the findings and recommendations outlined in this report will facilitate
and inform other reviews, especially those conducted by congressional committees
with specific jurisdiction over the State Department. We stand ready to assist
those reviews in every way possible. Ultimately, we must ensure that all the facts
about our government's actions prior to, during, and after the attacks are brought to
light for the American people to judge for themselves. The families of those
murdered in Benghazi deserve the truth, and all of our intelligence, military, and
diplomatic professionals who serve overseas in dangerous places are entitled to
have confidence that the errors of Benghazi will not be repeated.

SAXBY CHAMBLISS

RICHARD BURR
JAMES E. RISCH
DANCQATS
MARCO RUBIO
TOM COBURN, M.D.

16

ADDITIONAL VIEWS OF SENATOR COLLINS
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) "Review of Terrorist
Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, September 11-12, 2012," represents the
most extensive review to date of the actions and analysis of the Intelligence
Community (I C) leading up to, during, and after the attacks in Benghazi. I
commend the SSCI leaders and staff for drafting a report that joins the only one
other Senate report on Benghazi, "Flashing Red: A Special Report on the Terrorist
Attack at Benghazi," an analysis that Joseph Lieberman, the former Chairman of
the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC),
and I authored and issued in December 2012. Our Homeland Security Committee
conducted the first bipartisan investigation of what took place during the terrorist
attack that cost four Americans their lives. Although hampered by time constraints
and insufficient cooperation by the Administration, our report is an indictment of
the State Department's failure to adequately secure the Benghazi compound
despite numerous indications of an extremely dangerous threat environment.
Like our report, the SSCI report joins an increasing number of analyses to
reach the sobering verdict that the State Department could have and should have
done much more to prepare for the terrorist attack in Benghazi. The critical
findings of this and previous reports regarding the judgments, actions, and
management processes at the Department of State beg for accountability, and yet,
more than a year after the attack, no one has been held responsible for the critical
management failures that contributed to the vulnerability of the American
personnel and facilities in Benghazi.
The SSCI report, while adding considerably to our knowledge, would have
been strengthened if it had placed greater emphasis on the lack of accountability
for the broader management failures at the State Department. It would have been
premature for earlier reports published in the months immediately following the
attack, such as the Accountability Review Board and the "Flashing Red" report, to
reach fmal judgments with respect to the State Department's personnel actions
because the contributing factors to the vulnerability of the facility were still being
pieced together. This report could have more fully evaluated the accountability
issues because sufficient time had elapsed for the State Department to demonstrate
whether or not decision-makers would be held accountable for poor judgments,
refusals to tighten security, and misinformation.

For example, Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy
testified before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in
2012 that the threat environment in Benghazi was "flashing red,'' yet our
investigation found that Under Secretary Kennedy, and other State Department
officials, failed to ensure that a facility he personally approved in December 2011
had the necessary security to match the heightened threat environment.
The SSCI report describes many of the management deficiencies that
contributed to the inadequate security posture: excessive confusion in the State
Department's security decision-making process, uncertainty regarding the facility's
future, and the absence of sufficient communication at State Department
headquarters. As referenced in the report, the State Department Office of Inspector
General (OIG) also found that the Department lacks a conceptual framework and
process for risk management, and the Independent BestPractices panel found that
security standards waivers for overseas facilities are commonplace. Of the 29
Accountability Review Board (ARB) recommendations, fully 26 relate to systemic
management reforms in the Department according to the OIG.
Furthermore, this report, as well as other reports examining Benghazi, has
found that the State Department failed to act upon some of the lessons learned
from previous attacks. The State Department OIG's September 2013 audit of the
ARB process listed four pages of recommendations by the Benghazi ARB that
rnlrror similar recommendations from the report of the ARBs following the 1998
East Africa embassy bombings nearly fourteen years earlier. The OIG blamed this
outcome, in part, on the absence of sustained oversight among Department
principals, who are defined as the Secretary, deputy secretaries, and under
secretaries.
A broken system overseen by senior leadership contributed to the
Vulnerability of U.S. diplomats and other American personnel in one of the most
dangerous cities in the world. This is unacceptable, and yet the Secretary of State
has not held anyone responsible for the system's failings. This leads to a
perception that senior State Department officials are exempt from accountability
because the Secretary of State has failed to hold anyone accountable for the
systemic failures and management deficiencies that contributed to the grossly
inadequate security for the Benghazi facility.

2

To be clear, the responsibility for the attack lies with the attackers
themselves. Unfortunately, the promises of the President and other senior
Administration officials to bring any of the attackers to justice have ringed hollow
thus far. The report finds that more than a year after the attack, the terrorists who
perpetrated the attack have still not been brought to justice.
The report includes an important recommendation I requested, in consultation with
the Chairman and Vice Chairman, that the U.S. government must bring the
attackers to justice in spite of the unwillingness or lack of capacity of the Libyan
government to assist in this effort. Failure to do so would be to repeat one of the
mistakes that contributed to the lethality of the attack, which was the excessive
reliance on a local Libyan security force that lacked the capacity or willingness to
defend the compound.
- The failure to follow through on this promise undermines the credibility of
the United States, diminishes the commitments made to the families who lost loved
ones that night, and ignores the fact that our adversaries pay very close attention to
our r¢sponse to terrorist attacks. In general, inaction has not made the United
States any safer. The failure of the United States to respond meaningfully, in the
view of our adversaries, to attacks prior to 9/ll/01, such as the 1998 al Qaeda
attack against U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the 2000 USS Cole
bombing, served only to embolden the terrorists to plan and execute larger and
rnore deadly attacks.
Finally, the report does not go far enough to address the Administration's
failure to correctly label the incident as a deliberate and organized terrorist attack
in the days following the attack. As our "Flashing Red" report found, there was
never any doubt among key officials, including officials in the IC and the
Department of State, that the attack in Benghazi was an act of terrorism. Yet,
high-ranking Administration officials, including the President himself, repeatedly
cast doubt on the nature of the attack, at times attributing it to the reaction to an
anti-Islamic video and to a spontaneous demonstration that escalated into violence.
The SSCI report accurately describes that the IC moved too slowly to correct
errors about a protest that never happened, and describes eyewitness testimony that
should have been made available or pursued by the intelligence community more
aggressively. The report does not, however, describe all of the operational
reporting that should have been available to the IC after the attack.

3

The "Flashing Red" report identified two emails from the State Department
Diplomatic Security Operations Center on the day of the attack, September 11, and
the day a.fter, September 12, 20i2, which characterized the attack as an "initial
terrorism incident" and as a "terrorist event." In addition to the eyewitness
testimony and the State Department reports, agencies and offices responsible for
terrorism, including the National Counterterrorism Center {NCTC), the CIA's
Office of Terrorism Analysis, and the FBI's Counterterrorism Division, were
immediately involved with gathering information about the attack. Indeed, how
could there have been any doubt in anyone's mind that, when a large number of
armed men break into a U.S. diplomatic facility, set fire to its building, and fire
mortars at Americans, that is by definition a terrorist attack?
Despite the fact that the September J 1, 2012 attacks in Benghazi were
recognized as terrorist attacks by the Intelligence Community and personnel at the
Department of State from the beginning, Administration officials were inconsistent
and at times misleading in their public statements and failed for days to make cleat
to the American people that the deaths in Benghazi were the result of a terrorist
attack. It took eight days before the Administration communicated clearly and
unequivocally to the American people and to Congress regarding this fact through
testimony by NCTC Director Matthew Olsen before the Senate Homeland Security
and Governmental Affairs Committee on September 19,2012.
Even after the Administration finally published the complete time line of the
changes made to the talking points, it is baffling how a fundamental, unclassified
fact that was known to the IC from the beginning was only communicated clearly
to the American people by the Administration after the issue had already been
sufficiently muddled to result in confusion.
While I support the SSCI report and appreciate its thorough analysis of
much of what went wrong, I believe that more emphasis should have been placed
on the three issues I have discussed: (1) the Administration's initial misleading of
the American people about the terrorist nature of the attack, (2) the failure of the
Administration to hold anyone at the State Department, particularly Under
Secretary Kennedy, fully accountable for the security lapses, and (3) the unfulfilled
promises of President Obama that he would bring the terrorists to justice.

SUSAN COLLINS

4