Below are very rough notes of the State Departments conference call with members of the media about the Benghazi attack. The email is from my FNC colleague Justin Fishel — but you will notice that he got the info from another member of the media. The State Department left Fox News off the conference call (they have apologized.) I post this for you so that you can get an idea of what we are learning about the attack at Benghazi.
What is notable — I don’t see any mention of a protest (did I miss that?) I see a well orchestrated attack with RPG’s. There is also no mention of people protesting about a YouTube video.
Why is this important? Because the YouTube story is what the Obama Administration pedaled as the story in the very beginning…and stuck to it for a long time. They pushed that YouTube story hard! Why did they want the American people to think it was a YouTube video and not Al Qaeda? Is it because President Obama has boasted that his policies and orders have put Al Qaeda on their heels (what he said yesterday at a fundraiser in San Francisco) and is diminished (his speech at the Democratic Convention) and the truth something very different? that Al Qaeda is strong and attacking us?
I have no idea but yes, I can’t help but be suspicious. You create suspicion when you tell a ‘silly story’ and you stick to it! I didn’t start out suspicious — the Obama Administration has backed me into a corner. How can I not be suspicious?
But with the posting below, you have what we have and more to come later:
(one other thing: there is hearing on Capitol Hill tomorrow about this attack. Chairman Darrell Issa will be our guest tomorrow night ON THE RECORD at 10pm to discuss it)
Since we weren’t invited to be on the call the best I can do I share with you these notes kindly provided by a colleague who was on the call. I will send out the transcript as soon as I get it.
ID those on the call as Senior State Department Officials
Set the stage. On April 5th 2011, Stevens arrives by ship to Benghazi they set up shop at a hotel. Is the only U.S. government person in Libya. Set up shop in a hotel. A few weeks late in June a bomb explodes in front of the hotel. The group moves, and by August they settled in a
Compound roughly 300 feet wide and 100 feet wide.. need that for car bombs
Outer wall 9 feet, 3 feet of barbed wire. Jersey barriers , lights, vehicle guards .
Compound have 4 buildings. Building C – large residence. Has numerous bedrooms and has safe haven installed in it. Was bldg Ambassador was in. Building B has bedrooms and cantina. Tactical bldg has bedrooms and office. It’s the TOC.
Then barracks, small house by front gate, main gate of compound. Where Libyan security lived
5 DS agents, 4 17th February brigade, friendly militia deputized by Libyan gov
Additional security force at another U.S. compound 2 km a way a Quick Reaction Security Team.
Amb arrives in Benghazi 9/10 does meetings on compound and off compound
-Next day has all mtgs on compound b/c of 9/11
-at 7:30 Pm has last mtg w/Turkish diplomat
-Done by 8:30, escorts Turkish diplomat with guard outside compound. Says goodbye
-Returns to bldg C. where Sean and 1 DS agent is there, other in bldg TOC
-9:40 PM DS in bldg C and TOC, hear loud explosions. Agent in TOC looks at TOC and sees large group of men coming into compound
-Other agent goes to get ambassador
-Safe Haven divides floor into half, closet area where there are no windows,. There are medical supplies, water, etc. All windows have all been grilled. A couple have some that can be opened from inside.
-Agent inside safe haven has his side arm and machine gun, in with Sean and Ambassador
-Other Agents runs to bldg b and one to TOC to get long guns and kit
2 from bldg b head back to bldg C where Ambassador is
-They encounter a large group of armed men in btwn
-Agent in safe haven radios that they are ok and barrackated in
-Agent immediately hits alarm, yelling “attack attack.”
-Attackers immediately torched barracks when they arrived
2 agents bldg b, 2 agents TOC
Attackers penetrate building C. Walk around living area, look through grill, try to get through grill. Agent sees them in the dark, has long gun and ready to shoot, but they don’t
-sprinkle diesel all around on furniture and light it on fire.
-Other attackers penetrated bldg b, but agents have barrackated in.
-Other attacker try to penetrate the TOC but cant
-In bldg C, it’s quickly filling with thick diesel smoke and fumes from the furniture,. Smoke getting more and more black
-Move to safe haven with a bathroom and a window. Open window but it doesn’t help. It’s just filling with smoke. Could not see 3 feet away
They are on floor of bathroom, they are breathing on bottom 2 feet of the room
-Make decision they are going to have to leave safe haven
-Go to nearby bedroom, Agent leads them, opens grill
-Considerable firing outside, tracer bullets, think they were RPGS
-Dozens of armed men on the compound
-Agent suffering severely from smoke inhalation. He flops out onto patio,
He’s under fire
-He sees that he’s lost two companions
-goes back several times
-Finally goes up and collapses
-Very difficult to understand, tells TOC
-Other agents don’t have direct line, and first determination that C is on fire
Un barricades bldg B and they head to C, but lots of bad guys
-Unbelievable amount of bad guys. Goes and get armored vehicles to get to bldg C
-Agents take turns going into burning building, on hands and knees looking for sean and amb
-They pull up
-6 agents come from Annex. With them are 16 members of Libyan militia,
-member of qrt He called Embassy in Tripoli, he called Washington, get out of TOC. To join colleagues outside of bldg C
-All Agents have smoke inhalation.
-Remaining agent from TOC with good lungs tries one more time to go get Ambassador
-At this point, Libyan team says, “we have to go>”
-Head to Annex, taken fire,
-Men are throwing hand grenades at armored vehicle,
-two flat tires, they continue far down the crowd, turn right onto main road, completely choked with traffic. Typical for that kind of night.
-Grassy medium and they go counter flow until they make their way to the annex.
-Once in the annex, which has it’s own security, the guys in the car get out and help. Some get on roof
-Annex takes fire on and off for several hours.
-Takes ak-47′s and RPG’s quite intense.
-A team of reinforcements arrive from Embassy Tripoli to help by charter flight makes way to annex to help out.
-Reinforcements take their position.
-Somewhere around 4 AM, the Annex takes mortar fire. It is precise. Immediately kills two security agents, and severely wounds another
_at that point decision made to evacuate annex.
-Move to get everyone into vehicles and get to airport
Also..the Ambassador specifically did not leave the compound on September 11th, because of security fears due to the anniversary. Took meetings in town on the 10th but not on the 11th.
The lethality and number of armed people is unprecedented. There was no attack anywhere in Libya Tripoli or Benghazi like this. so it is unprecedented and would be very very hard to find a precedent like that in recent diplomatic history
According to some of my colleagues senior State Dept officials held a detailed telephone background briefing just now on what is now known about the Benghazi attack. Fox News was not on the call because according to the State Dept they accidentally left me off the list. It’s not uncommon for State to send notice about these calls to a select list. They apologized profusely for leaving me off, which has never happened before.
They are working to get me a transcript asap. According to my colleagues it was a good call. The senior official described prepping for potential disruptions ahead of 9/11. And on 9/11 the attack happened suddenly, with NO WARNING. Large explosions were heard and immediately after dozens of gunmen charged the compound. This official said no attack like this on a diplomatic compound had even been seen before in Libya.