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2012 Benghazi Attack

Day of Attack

11 Sep, 2012

According to documents found on November 1 1 , at 6:43 a.m. one of the guards saw a member of the police force in the upper level of a building across from the compound’s main gate. The guard reported that the person was photographing the inside of the compound and furthermore that this person was part of the police unit sent to protect the mission. The police car stationed where this event occurred was number 322.

Sean Smith, an Air Force veteran working on temporary assignment as an information management officer in Benghazi, was an avid player of an online multiplayer game called Eve Online, in which hundreds of thousands of participants across the globe took on roles like pirates or diplomats in a science fiction setting. Mr. Smith’s online name was “vile rat.” On the day of the attack, Smith wrote to a friend that he was concerned about security:

Assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures. Some time later, Smith’s final message was “gunfire”.2

For the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks Ambassador Stevens holds meetings inside the compound only. There was no actionable intelligence of any planned or imminent attack.

Stevens signs a three-page cable, labeled “sensitive,” in which he noted “growing problems with security” in Benghazi and “growing frustration” on the part of local residents with Libyan police and security forces. These forces the ambassador characterized as “too weak to keep the country secure. “3

About 7:30pm, Stevens has his last meeting, with a Turkish diplomat in Building C. At 8:30pm he escorts the Turkish diplomat outside the main gate where they say goodbye. Everything is calm. There has been nothing unusual during the day at all outside. There are no protests.

Stevens returns to Building C, where Sean Smith and four four Diplomatic Security are. One Diplomatic Security agent is in the TOC. All of these agents have their side arms.

At 9:00pm Stevens retires to his room.

  1. Foreign Policy – Troubling Surveillance Before Benghazi Attack
  2. New York Times – Attack Victim Shared Fears in Messages
  3. Reuters – U.S. intended to keep Benghazi mission open through 2012