State Department officials: Benghazi attack 'unprecedented'
October 9th, 2012
08:43 PM ET

State Department officials: Benghazi attack 'unprecedented'

From Jill Dougherty and Elise Labott

In the most detailed explanation yet of the attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, two senior State Department officials said there was no prior indication that an attack was imminent.

The officials, who briefed reporters on background in a conference call Tuesday evening, said there was "nothing unusual" throughout the day of the attack, September 11. The ambassador held an evening meeting with a Turkish diplomat and then retired to his room in one of the compound's buildings at 9 p.m., according to the officials.

The call, a day ahead of a congressional hearing into security failings at the diplomatic mission, was an attempt to offer the State Department's view that the severity of the attack and speed at which it unfolded made it impossible to defend even with some of the increased security measures that had been requested - but not fulfilled - before September 11.

The first sign of a problem came at 9:40 p.m. when diplomatic security agents heard loud talking outside the compound, along with gunfire and explosions.

U.S. official sought more security for Benghazi post

Asked whether the attack was a spontaneous assault taking advantage of a demonstration, as originally asserted by Obama administration officials, one senior official said, "That was not our conclusion."

"We don't necessarily have a conclusion," the State Department official said.

The two senior officials offered riveting detail of the attack, by what one official described as "dozens of armed men," marauding from building to building in the enormous complex and, later, firing mortars on a U.S. annex less than a mile away.

The attack created havoc on the compound, which had four buildings, including one that was used as a residence with bedrooms. The ambassador and two of his security personnel took refuge in a fortified room in the residence but the attackers penetrated the building, said the official. The attackers doused the building with diesel fuel and set it ablaze. The three men decided to leave the safe haven and move to a bathroom to be able to breathe.

In the chaos and smoke they were unable to find the ambassador. One official said it still is unclear how the ambassador got to the hospital where he was declared dead. Hospital personnel found his cell phone in his pocket and began calling numbers. That, the official says, is how U.S. officials learned where he was.

The officials echoed what administration officials have maintained since the attack: that U.S. and Libyan security personnel in Benghazi were out-manned and that no reasonable security presence could have fended off the assault.

Romney knew ex-SEAL slain in Benghazi

As one official said: "The lethality and the number of armed people is unprecedented. There had been no attacks like that anywhere in Libya - Tripoli, Benghazi or anywhere - in the time that we had been there. And so it is unprecedented, in fact, it would be very, very hard to find precedent for an attack like (it) in recent diplomatic history."

soundoff (174 Responses)
  1. priligy

    dapoxetine tablets price dapoxetine 1mg

    May 8, 2021 at 8:22 pm | Reply
  2. chloroquin

    choloquine chloroquine tab

    May 7, 2021 at 4:36 pm | Reply
  3. cialis through canadian pharmacies

    canadian pharmacy 5 mg daily cialis buy cialis online canadian

    May 1, 2021 at 11:09 pm | Reply
  4. best canadian mail order pharmacies for diet pills

    canadian diet pills best canadian mail order pharmacies for diet pills

    April 29, 2021 at 8:22 pm | Reply
  5. erection pills viagra online

    erectile clinic tulsa ok erectile hyperfunction

    April 29, 2021 at 10:14 am | Reply
  6. what is the price of generic viagra in canada

    canada pharmacy viagra canada viagra scam

    April 28, 2021 at 4:12 am | Reply
  7. sildenafil 20 mg online prescription

    how to get sildenafil where to buy sildenafil citrate

    April 27, 2021 at 7:30 pm | Reply
  8. vardenafil price

    vardenafil vs tadalafil levitra generic vardenafil

    April 26, 2021 at 12:30 am | Reply
  9. alprostadil mexico

    alprostadil generic prices alprostadil cream for sale

    April 24, 2021 at 3:28 am | Reply
  10. is it safe to order cialis from canadian pharmacy

    is it safe to order cialis from canadian pharmacy canadian viagra cialis

    April 22, 2021 at 2:07 am | Reply
  11. tadalafil gel

    buy tadalafil tadalafil tablets

    April 21, 2021 at 5:00 am | Reply
  12. canadian customs pills vitamins

    canadian pills online canadian pills pharmacy

    April 20, 2021 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  13. do you need a prescription for viagra in canada

    best viagra pills 25 mg canada pharmacy order generic viagra online canada

    April 15, 2021 at 9:50 am | Reply
  14. Steven Cravey

    March 6, 2021 at 1:49 pm | Reply
  15. Kendrick Moallankamp

    March 4, 2021 at 10:02 am | Reply
  16. zortilo nrel

    Hello my family member! I wish to say that this article is awesome, nice written and include almost all important infos. I?¦d like to peer more posts like this .

    February 18, 2021 at 8:28 pm | Reply
  17. child porns

    child porns

    February 16, 2021 at 8:03 am | Reply
  18. child porns

    child porns

    February 16, 2021 at 7:29 am | Reply
  19. brujas consultas gratis

    Thank you for sharing excellent informations. Your web site is so cool. I'm impressed by the details that you?¦ve on this web site. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for extra articles. You, my friend, ROCK! I found just the info I already searched all over the place and just could not come across. What a perfect site.

    February 11, 2021 at 3:56 am | Reply
1 2

Leave a Reply to Blaster34


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.