As the first shots rang out at the American Consulate in Benghazi at about 9:40 p.m. on September 11, former Navy SEALs immediately contacted their superiors informing them of the attack and requesting military assistance. Not only were the SEALs told that there would be no additional military assistance, those SEALs were told to “stand down” and not participate in the defense of the consulate. (Stand down orders) Here is the new timeline that has emerged regarding the Benghazi Consulate attack:
9:40 p.m. – First shots fired by attackers at the consulate. Navy SEALs and other personnel at the nearby annex call CIA officials requesting assistance but are told to “stand down” and not to join in the defense of the consulate. Included in those requesting assistance were Former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were part of a small team who were at the CIA annex.
10:15 p.m. – The assailants gain entry to the complex and the main building is engulfed in flames. Many of those trapped inside escape but Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith and a regional security guard remain. The security guard manages to escape and returns shortly afterwards with others to try to rescue Mr Stevens and Mr Smith. They find Mr Smith dead and pulled him from the building, but no sign of Mr Stevens. They are driven from the building by thick black smoke, fire and gunfire. There were two military surveillance drones redirected to Benghazi shortly after the attack on the Consulate began. They were already in the vicinity. The second surveillance craft was sent to relieve the first drone, perhaps due to fuel issues. Both were capable of sending real-time visuals back to U.S. officials in Washington, D.C. Any U.S. official or agency with the proper clearance, including the White House Situation Room, State Department, CIA, Pentagon and others, could call up that video in real-time on their computers. (Fox News) Reports have clearly indicated that most if not all of the attack were watched by senior members of the State Department real-time as the battle unfolded.
10:40 – Those at the annex make a second call for military assistance and are once again told that not only will military assistance not be coming, but those on the scene are once again to “stand down” and not participate in the defence of the American Consulate. Woods, Doherty and at least two others ignored those orders and made their way to the Consulate which at that point was on fire. Shots were exchanged. The quick reaction force from the CIA annex evacuated those who remained at the Consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack. They could not find the ambassador and returned to the CIA annex at about midnight. (Attack details)
11:20 – Fighting at the consulate moves to the annex where rooftop heavy machine gunner with laser sites on attackers continually calls to request a nearby Specter gunship which is typically used to support the defense of just this kind of attack. The machine gun operator is told to “wait.” There were no communications problems at the annex, according those present at the compound. The team was in constant radio contact with their headquarters.
12:00 – The fighting at the consulate and the annex went on for more than seven hours and both Tyrone Woods and Glenn Doherty were killed by a mortar attack at the very end of that seven hour battle. There had been plenty of time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. In addition, two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators. The forces at Sigonella Air Base could have been deployed in time to save lives:
A Special Operations team, or CIF which stands for Commanders in Extremis Force, operating in Central Europe had been moved to Sigonella, Italy, but they too were told to stand down. A second force that specializes in counterterrorism rescues was on hand at Sigonella, according to senior military and intelligence sources. According to those sources, they could have flown to Benghazi in less than two hours. They were the same distance to Benghazi as those that were sent from Tripoli. Specter gunships are commonly used by the Special Operations community to provide close air support.
According to sources on the ground during the attack, the special operator on the roof of the CIA annex had visual contact and a laser pointing at the Libyan mortar team that was targeting the CIA annex. The operators were calling in coordinates of where the Libyan forces were firing from. (Fox News)
2:00 a.m. - Ambassador Stevens suddenly appears at a nearby hospital where doctors spend an hour trying to revive him. He is pronounced dead from smoke inhalation. (BBC)
3:00 a.m. - A motorcade of dozens of Libyan vehicles, some mounted with 50 caliber machine guns, belonging to the February 17th Brigades, a Libyan militia which is friendly to the U.S., finally showed up at the CIA annex at approximately 3 a.m. An American Quick Reaction Force sent from Tripoli had arrived at the Benghazi airport at 2 a.m. (four and a half hours after the initial attack on the Consulate) and was delayed for 45 minutes at the airport because they could not at first get transportation, allegedly due to confusion among Libyan militias who were supposed to escort them to the annex, according to Benghazi sources. (Fox News)
4:00 a.m. – The American special operators, Woods, Doherty and at least two others were part of the Global Response Staff, a CIA element, based at the CIA annex and were protecting CIA operators who were part of a mission to track and repurchase arms in Benghazi that had proliferated in the wake of Muammar Qaddafi’s fall. Part of their mission was to find the more than 20,000 missing MANPADS, or shoulder-held missiles capable of bringing down a commercial aircraft. According to a source on the ground at the time of the attack, the team inside the CIA annex had captured three Libyan attackers and was forced to hand them over to the Libyans. U.S. officials do not know what happened to those three attackers and whether they were released by the Libyan forces. (Fox News)