CIA Played Central Role in Benghazi Response

Intelligence officials offer most detailed account yet
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Nov 2, 2012 5:44 AM CDT
Updated Nov 2, 2012 7:20 AM CDT
In this Sept. 12 file photo, a man looks at documents at the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.   (AP Photo/Ibrahim Alaguri)

(Newser) – The CIA played a bigger role in the response to the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi than was previously known, say US intelligence officials, rebutting media claims that the agency was slow to send help. Security agents were on the scene in 25 minutes, taking charge of evacuations, the Washington Post reports—and indeed most of those evacuated were working for the CIA, notes the Wall Street Journal: Just seven of the 30 people evacuated worked for the State Department. Washington didn't get in the way of the CIA's efforts, intelligence officials say: "There was no second-guessing those decisions being made on the ground, by people at every US organization that could play a role in assisting those in danger."

Still, the Journal highlights potential problems in the relationship between the State Department and the CIA, suggesting that the highly secretive role of the agency may have hindered the response to some extent. The consulate functioned in large part as cover for the agency, and investigators in Congress say intelligence agents and State officials may not have been clear on their respective roles there. The CIA, according to critics in Congress, has maintained secrecy in part to duck blame; agency insiders reject the assertion. The new information doesn't address the big controversy, that being the administration's changing accounts of the cause of the attacks, the Post notes. It adds that Republicans are likely to question the timing of the new briefing days before the election. The New York Times has more on the "major role" of the CIA in the response. (Read more CIA stories.)

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