The State Department has released a transcript of a briefing that two high-ranking department officials gave to a number of reporters via conference call on October 9 (Tuesday). I am not certain about this, but I believe the transcript was only made public today. You should read it in its entirety; it is the most detailed description I have seen of the events in Benghazi on September 11.
While this is by no means clear, it appears that the State Department may have released the transcript as part of the escalating conflict between Barack Obama and Joe Biden and the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. In their desperation to avoid responsibility for the Benghazi debacle, Obama and Biden have pointed fingers in two directions: at the intelligence community for reporting incorrectly that the incident was a protest over a YouTube video clip, and at the State Department for not providing adequate security for the Ambassador.
Here are some excerpts from the narrative:
A few minutes later – we’re talking about 9 o’clock at night – the Ambassador retires to his room, the others are still at Building C, and the one agent in the [Tactical Operations Center]. At 9:40 p.m., the agent in the TOC and the agents in Building C hear loud noises coming from the front gate. They also hear gunfire and an explosion. The agent in the TOC looks at his cameras – these are cameras that have pictures of the perimeter – and the camera on the main gate reveals a large number of people – a large number of men, armed men, flowing into the compound. One special agent immediately goes to get the Ambassador in his bedroom and gets Sean, and the three of them enter the safe haven inside the building. …
They turn around immediately and head back – or the two of them, from Building B, turn around immediately with their kit and head back to Villa C, where the Ambassador and his colleagues are. They encounter a large group of armed men between them and Building C. I should say that the agent in Building C with the Ambassador has radioed that they are all in the safe haven and are fine. The agents that encounter the armed group make a tactical decision to turn around and go back to their Building B and barricade themselves in there. So we have people in three locations right now.
And I neglected to mention – I should have mentioned from the top that the attackers, when they came through the gate, immediately torched the barracks. It is aflame, the barracks that was occupied by the 17th February Brigade armed host country security team. I should also have mentioned that at the very first moment when the agent in the TOC seized [sic — apparently should read “sees”] the people flowing through the gate, he immediately hits an alarm, and so there is a loud alarm. He gets on the public address system as well, yelling, “Attack, attack.” Having said that, the agents – the other agents had heard the noise and were already reacting.
Okay. So we have agents in Building C – or an agent in Building C with the Ambassador and Sean, we have two agents in Building B, and we have two agents in the TOC. All – Building C is – attackers penetrate in Building C. They walk around inside the building into a living area, not the safe haven area. The building is dark. They look through the grill, they see nothing. They try the grill, the locks on the grill; they can’t get through. The agent is, in fact, watching them from the darkness. He has his long gun trained on them and he is ready to shoot if they come any further. They do not go any further.
They have jerry cans. They have jerry cans full of diesel fuel that they’ve picked up at the entrance when they torched the barracks. They have sprinkled the diesel fuel around. They light the furniture in the living room – this big, puffy, Middle Eastern furniture. They light it all on fire, and they have also lit part of the exterior of the building on fire. At the same time, there are other attackers that have penetrated Building B. The two agents in Building B are barricaded in an inner room there. The attackers circulate in Building B but do not get to the agents and eventually leave.
A third group of attackers tried to break into the TOC. They pound away at the door, they throw themselves at the door, they kick the door, they really treat it pretty rough; they are unable to get in, and they withdraw. Back in Building C, where the Ambassador is, the building is rapidly filling with smoke. The attackers have exited. The smoke is extremely thick. It’s diesel smoke, and also, obviously, smoke from – fumes from the furniture that’s burning. And the building inside is getting more and more black. The Ambassador and the two others make a decision that it’s getting – it’s starting to get tough to breathe in there, and so they move to another part of the safe haven, a bathroom that has a window. They open the window. The window is, of course, grilled. They open the window trying to get some air in. That doesn’t help. The building is still very thick in smoke. …
Okay. We’ve got the agent. He’s opening the – he is suffering severely from smoke inhalation at this point. He can barely breathe. He can barely see. He’s got the grill open and he flops out of the window onto a little patio that’s been enclosed by sandbags. He determines that he’s under fire, but he also looks back and sees he doesn’t have his two companions. He goes back in to get them. He can’t find them. He goes in and out several times before smoke overcomes him completely, and he has to stagger up a small ladder to the roof of the building and collapse. He collapses. …
The agent in the TOC, who is in full gear, opens the door, throws a smoke grenade, which lands between the two buildings, to obscure what he is doing, and he moves to Building B, enters Building B. He un-barricades the two agents that are in there, and the three of them emerge and head for Building C. There are, however, plenty of bad guys and plenty of firing still on the compound, and they decide that the safest way for them to move is to go into an armored vehicle, which is parked right there. They get into the armored vehicle and they drive to Building C.
They drive to the part of the building where the agent had emerged. He’s on the roof. They make contact with the agent. Two of them set up as best a perimeter as they can, and the third one, third agent, goes into the building. This goes on for many minutes. Goes into the building, into the choking smoke. When that agent can’t proceed, another agent goes in, and so on. And they take turns going into the building on their hands and knees, feeling their way through the building to try to find their two colleagues. They find Sean. They pull him out of the building. He is deceased. They are unable to find the Ambassador. …
At this point, the quick reaction security team and the Libyans, especially the Libyan forces, are saying, “We cannot stay here. It’s time to leave. We’ve got to leave. We can’t hold the perimeter.” So at that point, they make the decision to evacuate the compound and to head for the annex. The annex is about two kilometers away. My agents pile into an armored vehicle with the body of Sean, and they exit the main gate. …
[T]hey take fire almost as soon as they emerge from the compound. They go a couple of – they go in one direction toward the annex. They don’t like what they’re seeing ahead of them. There are crowds. There are groups of men. They turn around and go the other direction. They don’t like what they’re seeing in that direction either. They make another u-turn. They’re going at a steady pace. There is traffic in the roads around there. This is in Benghazi, after all. Now, they’re going at a steady pace and they’re trying not to attract too much attention, so they’re going maybe 15 miles an hour down the street.
They come up to a knot of men in an adjacent compound, and one of the men signals them to turn into that compound. They agents [sic] at that point smell a rat, and they step on it. They have taken some fire already. At this point, they take very heavy fire as they go by this group of men. They take direct fire from AK-47s from about two feet away. The men also throw hand grenades or gelignite bombs under – at the vehicle and under it. At this point, the armored vehicle is extremely heavily impacted, but it’s still holding. There are two flat tires, but they’re still rolling. …
As the night goes on, a team of reinforcements from Embassy Tripoli arrives by chartered aircraft at Benghazi airport and makes its way to the compound – to the annex, I should say. And I should have mentioned that the quick reaction – the quick reaction security team that was at the compound has also, in addition to my five agents, has also returned to the annex safely. The reinforcements from Tripoli are at the compound – at the annex. They take up their positions. And somewhere around 5:45 in the morning – sorry, somewhere around 4 o’clock in the morning – I have my timeline wrong – somewhere around 4 o’clock in the morning the annex takes mortar fire. It is precise and some of the mortar fire lands on the roof of the annex. It immediately killed two security personnel that are there, severely wounds one of the agents that’s come from the compound.
At that point, a decision is made at the annex that they are going to have to evacuate the whole enterprise. And the next hours are spent, one, securing the annex, and then two, moving in a significant and large convoy of vehicles everybody to the airport, where they are evacuated on two flights.
Barack Obama, meanwhile, was jetting off to Las Vegas for a fundraiser.
It was obvious to the reporters on the call that this narrative blows Obama’s evasions sky high:
First question is from the line of Anne Gearan with the Washington Post. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Hi. You said a moment ago that there was nothing unusual outside, on the street, or outside the gates of the main compound. When did the agents inside – what – excuse me, what did the agents inside think was happening when the first group of men gathered there and they first heard those explosions? Did they think it was a protest, or did they think it was something else?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: The agent in the TOC heard the noise, heard the firing. Firing is not unusual in Benghazi at 9:40 at night, but he immediately reacted and looked at his cameras and saw people coming in, hit the alarm. And the rest is as I described it. Does that help?
This exchange is priceless:
OPERATOR: The next question is from the line of Brad Klapper with AP. Please, go ahead.
QUESTION: Hi, yes. You described several incidents you had with groups of men, armed men. What in all of these events that you’ve described led officials to believe for the first several days that this was prompted by protests against the video?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That is a question that you would have to ask others. That was not our conclusion. I’m not saying that we had a conclusion, but we outlined what happened. The Ambassador walked guests out around 8:30 or so, there was no one on the street at approximately 9:40, then there was the noise and then we saw on the cameras the – a large number of armed men assaulting the compound.
So Hillary Clinton and the State Department unequivocally reject the account that Barack Obama and Joe Biden have given. It is hard to imagine what “intelligence” reports Obama could have received that blamed the YouTube video. He is lying, evidently.
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