Nov 3, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
Excerpted from DAILY MAIL: The United States considered moving its Benghazi consulate a mile away to a CIA base a month before the deadly attack by militants linked to al-Qaeda which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three.
A classified cable also reveals the U.S. mission drafted a contingency plan to suspend its operation as security in the Libyan city deteriorated amid increasing violence.
The secret cable, sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s office, reflected officials’ concerns that the Libyan militia protecting the consulate could have been infiltrated by extremists.
The message, seen by Fox News, reported the discussions from an August 15 emergency meeting, including the detail that members of the Libyan February 17 Brigade were hesitant to share information with the Americans.
Consulate staff believed they were under surveillance in the early hours of September 11 when a member of the police unit guarding the compound was found taken photographs of the inside of the mission, according to documents recovered from the site by Foreign Policy magazine.
Days after the attack, an intelligence source told Fox News: ‘One thing for sure is that the 17 Brigade was nowhere to be found and the Americans were left on their own in the assault.’
Moving the consulate to the CIA annex might not have saved the four Americans who died in the September 11 strike.
Two of the four dead were killed at the site when it came under fire in the six-hour, commando-style attack on the U.S. Mission in the Libyan city, for which al-Qaeda and Islamist militia Ansar al-Sharia have been blamed.The uncovering of the cable’s contents come a day after intelligent chiefs admitted the CIA was operating a covert mission in the U.S. consulate in Libya when it came under attack.
The CIA made the revelation as it laid bare the heroic rescue by a handful of its agents in which they fought off wave after wave of mortar and rocket attacks with just their handguns as they sought to infiltrate the compound and shepherd its American staff to safety.A timeline, released by the agency, has blown open the dramatic sequence of events, revealing for the first time that of the 30 American officials evacuated from the country following the deadly attack, just seven worked for the State Department.The rest were part of a crack team of intelligence and security experts on a secret mission aimed at counterterrorism and securing heavy weapons held by the embattled regime.
They had been operating out of a building known as ‘the annex’, around a mile away from the consulate in central Benghazi.
Intelligence officials told how when the annex received a call about the assault, about a half dozen members of a CIA security team tried to get heavy weapons and other assistance from the Libyans.
But with time running out, the team went ahead with the rescue attempt armed only with their standard-issue small arms.
A fierce firefight ensued and the team managed to get into the consulate and shepherd its occupants back to the annex under constant attack from machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades.
‘The security officers in particular were genuine heroes,’ an official said. ‘They quickly tried to rally additional local support and heavier weapons, and when that could not be accomplished within minutes, they still moved in and put their own lives on the line to save their comrades.
‘At every level in the chain of command, from the senior officers in Libya to the most senior officials in Washington, everyone was fully engaged in trying to provide whatever help they could.’
The CIA revelations come after Barack Obama’s administration came under sharp attack over its handling of the incident amid claims Washington told officers on the ground to ‘stand down’ before the rescue took place.