CNN posts a statement by Shawn Turner, director of public affairs for tor National Intelligence, regarding when the United States realized the Benghazi attack was done by terrorists:
As the Intelligence Community collects and analyzes more information related to the attack, our understanding of the event continues to evolve. In the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo. We provided that initial assessment to Executive Branch officials and members of Congress, who used that information to discuss the attack publicly and provide updates as they became available. Throughout our investigation we continued to emphasize that information gathered was preliminary and evolving.
As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists. It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate.
Not in this chunk of the statement — or anywhere else — are any specifics about when precisely it was discovered that terrorists were behind the attack. Nor is there any contradiction of the reports that twenty-four hours later, U.S. officials knew it was a terrorist attack. And that’s crucial — because the administration kept talking about video that had reportedly incited the attack and about how the attack was spontaneous in nature for days after.
Furthermore, Fox News is reporting that the Libyan consulate had little security (hat tip: Guy Benson):
An intelligence source on the ground in Libya told Fox News on Friday that no threat assessment was conducted before U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team began “taking up residence” at the Benghazi compound — describing the security lapses as a “total failure.”
There had been four attacks or attempted attacks on diplomatic and western targets leading up to the Sept. 11 strike on the U.S. Consulate.
Based on that information, a former regional security officer for diplomatic security told Fox News, the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi had to have been classified or assessed by the State Department as a “critical threat terrorism or civil unrest posting.”
Fox News was told that State Department standards for diplomatic missions overseas dictate physical security standards for this classification. There are two sets — classified and unclassified requirements. The unclassified standards include a 100-foot setback for the buildings from the exterior walls which should be three meters high, in addition to reinforced ballistic doors and windows which can withstand an hour of sustained assault.
Based on the video and photos, none appear present at the consulate.
The former regional security officer, who has worked in the Middle East, told Fox News that the standards are designed to give an ambassador, his or her team and diplomatic security that “golden hour” to burn classified dockets and call in military help for an emergency evacuation.
So why weren’t in these precautions in place? Libya, after all, was clearly not a stable situation; it’s not like our embassy in say, Australia, was attacked. Why didn’t the administration make sure that the consulate was well-secured? And will the media start aggressively pursuing these questions?