On September 11, 2012 in Libya, a heavily armed group executed an attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi. The attack began at night in a U.S. diplomatic compound for the consulate, and ended at another diplomatic compound nearby where the U.S. intelligence was posted. Killed were U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other members of his diplomatic mission, U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith and U.S. embassy security personnel Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. Two other Americans and seven Libyans were also injured. The Benghazi attack was strongly condemned by the governments of Libya, the United States and other countries around the world.
Libyans held demonstrations in Benghazi and Tripoli, condemning the violence and holding signs such as, “Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans”, and apologizing to Americans for the actions in their name and in the name of Muslims. On September 21, about 30,000 Libyans protested against armed militias in their country including Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamist militia alleged to have played a role in the attack, and stormed several militia headquarters, forcing the occupants to flee. On September 23, the Libyan president ordered that all unauthorized militias either disband or come under government control. Militias across the country began surrendering to the government and submitting to its authority. Hundreds of Libyans gathered in Tripoli and Benghazi to hand over their weapons to the government.
The attack followed the mobbing of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, which was in reaction to the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims. On September 28, U.S. intelligence revised their initial assessment to indicate that it “was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists”. Questions about whether the White House should have stated or did state this conclusion earlier and whether the site of the assault was adequately secured before and after the attack created political controversy during the US 2012 Presidential election then underway. The United States investigation of the attack is being conducted separately by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Department, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Source: Wikipedia
Note from The Black Vault: I have filed FOIA requests to multiple agencies regarding this attack. I am still awaiting additional records responsive to the attack, but have included the below records from my archives for research.
FOIA Search for Documents on Benghazi
The following are documents received under the FOIA regarding Benghazi. I still have MULTIPLE requests still open and being processed, and they will be made available here when I get them.
Did the U.S. Government receive warnings of a threat on 9/11/12?
FBI Response to FOIA request for all warnings / threats of terrorism on or around 9/11/12 [ 5 Pages, 1MB ] – The FBI found 72 pages of responsive records to this search, but each of them were classified and exempt from release. Could these pages potentially show the Obama Administration was negligent and ignored warnings of a terrorist attack on 9/11/12?
FBI Response to FOIA request for all warnings / threats of terrorism on or around 9/11/12, on documents originating with a “Other Government Agency” [ 3 Pages, 0.2MB ] – The FBI had sent 4 pages to a “Other Government Agency” that was responsible for the documents. They determined that these, as well, were entirely classified and exempt from release.
CIA Response to FOIA request for all warnings / threats of terrorism on or around 9/11/12 [ 2 Pages, 0.2MB ] – The CIA responded on behalf of the Department of State, when they found multiple pages responsive to my request. The CIA says that each document is classified, and exempt from release.
Other FOIA Documents
DoD Response for Records [2 Pages, 0.6mb]
State Department “Rapid Response: Hot Topics” Newsletter for the month of September 2012 [ 37 Pages, 1.6MB ] – These newsletters are issued daily by the State Department, and circulated internally. I requested the entire month of September 2012 to show the days leading up to and following the Benghazi attack.
FBI Response to FOIA request for all transcripts from interviews with Benghazi survivors [4 Pages, 2.35MB] –
Benghazi “Talking Point” Timeline revisions [8 Pages, 1.7mb] – This document, released by ABC News, shows the different versions of the “talking points” relating to Benghazi. There is a drastic change over the course of 12 revisions.
Benghazi “Talking Point” Revision — Emails from the White House, released April 2014 [113 Pages, 43.76mb] – These records come from my friends over at Judicial Watch, who do great work obtaining hard to get documents. To quote FoxNews on their release, “Newly released emails on the Benghazi terror attack suggest a senior White House aide played a central role in preparing former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice for her controversial Sunday show appearances — where she wrongly blamed protests over an Internet video.”
Benghazi “Talking Point” Revision — Emails from the DNI, State Dept. CIA and others [100 Pages, 36.71mb] – These pages were released to The Black Vault from the Director of National Intelligence in a request for all emails pertaining to the “talking points” and how they were revised behind the scenes before Susan Rice and others used them in the days after the attack. Very interesting to see what went into it, and how they knew from the start the bullet point about it being over a protest would be an issue. You will also see where the information about the “warnings” given PRIOR to 9/11/12, along with the terrorist ties, were completely cut out of the final version.
Benghazi Attack Scene Photos [8 Pages, 1.6mb] – Thanks to my friends over at Judicial Watch, photos from the scene of the Benghazi attack were released under the FOIA after originally being deemed classified, and exempt from disclosure under FOIA exemption (b)(7). These are the first photos to have been officially released from the scene of the Benghazi attack.
FBI Response for Benghazi “threats” towards the consulate, or to the US on or around 9/11/12 [3 Pages, 1.02MB] – In a search for records relating to a threat towards either the United States, or the Benghazi consulate, I filed a FOIA request to the FBI for records relating to anything that may indicate we had prior knowledge that an attack was imminent around 9/11/12. The response? FOIA exemption (b)(7) – law enforcement information, which if released, would interfere with an ongoing proceeding.
White House Releases Emails Regarding Benghazi [100 Pages, 29.12mb] – On 5/15/2013, The White House released 100 pages of emails regarding the ‘talking points’ that would be discussed in the days that followed the attack in Benghazi. Up until this date, the White House refused to release them to congressional investigators.
Blue Mountain Group (BMG) Security Firm Repeatedly Abandoned Their Posts in Benghazi due to “fear” for their safety [ 130 Pages, 39.28MB ] – On September 10th, 2014, Judicial Watch announced that it had obtained 130 pages of new State Department documents revealing that local security guards working for Blue Mountain Group (BMG), the firm hired to protect the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, repeatedly abandoned their posts “out of fear of their safety” in the months leading up to the deadly terrorist attack on the special mission compound. Source and special thanks: Judicial Watch
Senate Intelligence Committee Releases Declassified Bipartisan Report on Benghazi Terrorist Attacks
Read the Report [85 Pages, 5.67MB]
U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (“HPSCI” or “the Committee”) conducted a comprehensive and exhaustive investigation into the tragic attacks against two U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11-12, 2012. The nearly two-year investigation focused on the activities of the Intelligence Community (“IC”) before, during, and after the attacks. During the course of thousands of hours of detailed investigation, HPSCI reviewed thousands of pages of intelligence assessments, cables, notes, and emails; held 20 Committee events and hearings; and conducted detailed interviews with senior intelligence officials and eyewitnesses to the attacks, including eight security personnel on the ground in Benghazi that night.
Read the Report [37 Pages, 2.5MB]
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Releases Report on DOD Response to Benghazi
WASHINGTON – The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations released a comprehensive report today evaluating the response of the Department of Defense (DOD) to the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. Read the Report
To undertake the committee’s review, Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon directed the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to work alongside the full committee. As a result, this report expresses the views of Chairman McKeon, Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry, Rep. Martha Roby (who was the chairman of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee until December 2013), and the five majority members of that subcommittee.
To date, committee staff has reviewed thousands of pages of written material (including classified emails and situation reports) made available by DOD. Staff has also held three classified staff briefings, and two classified interviews. Members have participated in two open hearings, and seven additional classified briefings. In undertaking this work, the committee has met with and received information from military personnel in the entire chain of command in connection with Benghazi: from those on the ground at the time of the attack to the nation’s senior-most uniformed leader.
While the committee’s inquiry continues, the majority members believe that information gathered to date reaffirm the relevant findings in the Interim Progress Report for the Members of the Republican Conference on the Events Surrounding the September 11, 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi, Libya issued in April 2013 by the five committees with jurisdiction in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Based on its activities undertaken since the release of that report, majority members make the six findings listed below:
Read the Report [31 Pages, 0.4MB]
Documents about the Benghazi Aftermath
The following are documents received under the FOIA regarding Benghazi, and the aftermath in the days, weeks and months after the attack.
- Correspondence Between Office of the Director of National Intelligence and Members of Congress, 09/01/2012 – 12/31/2012, Released March 2015 [47 Pages, 17.3MB]
- Director of National Intelligence E-Mails Regarding Benghazi, Released December of 2015 [26 Pages, 3.5MB] – After being told there were no documents relating to my request for correspondence to or from the consulate in Benghazi. After appealing their decision, I was asked to withdraw it, and they would do another search for responsive records. As a result, there were responsive records, and they were redacted and released. This is another example of being told one thing, but after pushing and excersizing my appeal rights, there is another picture that unfolds.
- A Trainee Demand Analysis for the Expansion of the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group, March 2013, Master’s Thesis [95 Pages, 4.54mb] – On September 11, 2012, the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked, resulting in the death of four United States citizens, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Prior to Bengazi, the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group (MCESG) held a total strength of about 1,400 Marines, of which 1,196 were Marine Security Guards (MSG). In response to the deadly attack, Congress authorized 1,000 new MSGs through the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, creating additional protection for U.S. diplomatic facilities worldwide. This thesis examines the growth requirements needed to support MCESG’s expansion demands to produce MSGs at maximum capacity in the coming three to four years. The study analyzes trainee demands, proposing a methodology to assist MCESG operation personnel plans for expansion and future force sustainment. The proposed methodology is founded on an Excel-based analytical approach that relies heavily on simulation and is interfaced through a Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) UserForm. The model is easily manipulated, as operational needs dictate. Once developed, VBA UserForm is a simple and effective tool that can assist planners in standardizing procedures at the operational level. Research-based analysis indicates that the proposed methodology could yield significant savings in terms of manpower and training requirements for MCESG.
- CTC Sentinel – Volume 6, Issue 2, February 2013 [25 Pages, 1.51MB] – Islamist Militant Groups in Post-Qadhafi Libya.
Declassified Transcripts of Benghazi Briefings Released
January 13th, 2014 – The House Armed Services Committee today released a series of recently declassified transcripts of briefings on the September 11th 2012 attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya. The briefings were conducted by the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations then chaired by Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), though they were open to all members of the Committee and attended by Members off the Committee. The briefings, which took place over the course of several months, were part of the Committee’s examination of the actions of the military chain of command before, during, and after the attack. A report summarizing the conclusion of the HASC Oversight & Investigations majority Members draw from these briefings is expected to be released later this week.
· Transcript #1
1_Briefing transcript (redacted), “DOD’s preparation for the terrorist attacks in Benghazi,” (Part I, Session I, DOD), May 21, 2013.pdf (3.7 MBs)
· Transcript #2
2_Briefing transcript (redacted), “DOD’s preparation for the terrorist attacks in Benghazi,” (Part I, Session II DOD), May 21, 2013.pdf (642.4 KBs)
· Transcript #3
3_Briefing transcript (redacted), “DOD’s preparation for the terrorist attacks in Benghazi,” (Part II, AFRICOM), June 26, 2013.pdf (9.2 MBs)
· Transcript #4
4_Briefing transcript (redacted), “DOD’s preparation for the terrorist attacks in Benghazi,” (Part III, Colonel Bristol), July 31, 2013.pdf (10.8 MBs)
· Transcript #5
5_Hearing transcript, “DOD’s posture for September 11, 2013,” (Part IV, Force Posture), September 19, 2013.pdf (691.9 KBs)
· Transcript #6
6_Briefing transcript (redacted), “DOD’s force posture in anticipation of September 11, 2012,” (Part V, General Dempsey), October 10, 2013.pdf (2.3 MBs)
Progress Report on Benghazi Terror Attack Investigation
Last year, Speaker John Boehner asked the House committees on Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, Judiciary, and Oversight & Government Reform to investigate the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans. On 4/23/13, these five committees released their progress report, which outlines their findings and the next steps in the investigation.
Timeline of Documents and Events Relating to the Benghazi Attack
1. 8/27/12 – Travel Warning, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Bureau of Consular Affairs, in regards to Libya [2 Pages, 113kb] – Specifically mentions Benghazi with increased violence.
2. 9/11/12 – Statement on the Attack in Benghazi, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, Department of State [1 Page, 90kb] – Blames internet video for attack. No mention of “terror” or “terrorism”
3. 9/12/12 – Statement by the President on the Attack in Benghazi [1 Page, 96kb] – Written Statement released by the President. No mention of video. No mention of “terror” or “terrorism”
4. 9/12/12 – Statement by the President on the Attack in Benghazi, Rose Garden Speech [Video] – No mention of “terror” or “terrorism” in relation to Benghazi. Says “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve on this great nation…” at the end of the speech, however, he was speaking about the 9/11/01 attacks, and his visits to victims and family members.
5. 9/12/12 – Remarks on the Deaths of American Personnel in Benghazi, Libya, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, Department of State [3 Pages, 90kb] – The video of this speech, is below in the Video Archive. Blames internet video for attack. No mention of “terror” or “terrorism”
6. 9/12/12 – Press Statement on the Deaths of American Personnel in Benghazi, Libya, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, Department of State [2 Pages, 101kb]-
Blames internet video for attack. No mention of “terror” or “terrorism”
7. 9/12/12 – Remarks on the Deaths of American Personnel in Benghazi, Libya, Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations , U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Department of State [3 Pages, 98kb] –Blames internet video for attack. No mention of “terror” or “terrorism”
8. 9/12/12 – Briefing by Senior Administration Officials to Update Recent Events in Libya [3 Pages, 98kb] – Will not answer if internet video was cause of attack. Will not answer if there is a “terrorism” link.
9. 9/13/12 – State Department Daily Press Briefing [21 Pages, 180kb] – Confirms blaming internet video for attack. No mention of “terror” or “terrorism”
10.9/13/12 – Statement on the Deaths of Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty in Benghazi, Libya, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, Department of State [2 Pages, 101kb]- No mention of video. No mention of “terror” or “terrorism”
11.9/14/12 – Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney [17 Pages, 166kb] Blames internet video as attack. Denies any “concrete evidence” of a “terror” link that would show “[the attack] to not being in response to the film.”
12.9/14/12 – Remarks at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony to Honor Those Lost in Attacks in Benghazi, Libya, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State [3 Pages, 99kb] Blames internet video as attack. No mention of “terror” or “terrorism”
13.9/14/12 – Remarks at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony to Honor Those Lost in Attacks in Benghazi, Libya, President Barack Obama [2 Pages, 125kb]- No mention of video. No mention of “terror” or “terrorism”
14.10/09/12 – Background Briefing on Libya [13 Pages, 140kb]-
Said video was not their conclusion for attack..No mention of “terror” or “terrorism”
15.10/10/12 – On-The-Record Briefing by Under Secretary Kennedy [4 Pages, 110kb] – WATCH VIDEO – No mention of video. No mention of “terror” or “terrorism”
16.10/12/12 – Hearing on Benghazi Security Issues, Testimony Before the House Oversight Subcommittee, Patrick Kennedy, Under Secretary for Management [4 Pages, 108kb]- No mention of video. No mention of “terror” or “terrorism”
17.10/12/12 – Hearing on Benghazi Security Issues, Testimony Before the House Oversight Subcommittee, Charlene Lamb, Deputy Assistant, Secretary of State [8 Pages, 124kb] – No mention of video. No mention of “terror” or “terrorism”
18.10/12/12 – Hearing on Benghazi Security Issues, Prepared Statement Before the House Oversight Subcommittee, Eric Allan Nordstrom, Regional Security Officer, Tripoli, Libya from September 21, 2011-July 26, 2012 [12 Pages, 191kb]-
No mention of video. No mention of “terror” or “terrorism”
19.10/15/12 – Interview With Margaret Brennan of CBS, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State [4 Pages, 108kb] -No mention of video. No mention of “terror” or “terrorism”
20.11/09/12 – Daily Press Briefing, Victoria Nuland, Spokesperson [19 Pages, 190kb]- No mention of video. No mention of “terror” or “terrorism”
Flashing Red: A Special Report on the Terrorist Attack At Benghazi (Official Senate Report)
1. Flashing Red: A Special Report on the Terrorist Attack At Benghazi [31 Pages, 0.4mb] – While our country spent September 11, 2012, remembering the terrorist attacks that took place 11 years earlier, brave Americans posted at U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, Libya, were fighting for their lives against a terrorist assault. When the fight ended, U.S. Ambassador to Libya John C. (Chris) Stevens and three other Americans were dead and U.S. facilities in Benghazi were left in ruin. We must remember the sacrifice that these selfless public servants made to support the struggle for freedom in Libya and to improve our own national security. While we mourn their deaths, it is also crucial that we learn from how they died. By examining the circumstances of the attack in Benghazi on September 11th, we hope to gain a better understanding of what went wrong and what we must do now to ensure better protection for American diplomatic personnel who must sometimes operate in dangerous places abroad.
Historical government records, detailing the highly volatile situation in Libya and Benghazi
1. America Strikes Back, April 1987 [44 Pages, 16.53mb] – After repeated warnings from the United States government, elements of the U.S. Sixth Fleet and the USAF bombed targets in and around the Libyan cities of Benghazi and Tripoli on 14 April 1986. The attack came in retaliation to several Libyan sponsored terrorist attacks on U.S. concerns in the weeks preceding. This paper examines the effects of the bombing as a deterrent of future terrorist attacks and further examines current and projected U.S. counterterrorist policies.
2. Conflict with Libya: Use of Military Force Against Terrorism, 8 Feb 1994 [30 Pages, 1.1mb] – The United States attack on Libya on April 15, 1986 was the culmination of a series of developments in U.S. foreign policy and military strategy intended to combat international terrorism. It was the culmination of the U.S. attempt to use both non- military and military methods to combat terrorism. This paper examines the use of military force as an appropriate means to combat terrorism. In particular, the 1986 conflict with Libya is examined concentrating on the following aspects: whether operational level objectives contributed to achievement of strategic goals; and the use of military force as an effective instrument in the war against terrorism. This paper concludes that the use of military force (along with the European non- military responses) was an effective instrument in the war against terrorism as measured by the decrease in Libyan sponsored attacks from 1986 to 1991. However, the U.S. attack on Libya is still an isolated event and does not provide a sufficient basis for a doctrine of military retaliation against terrorism.
3. Deterring Libya: The Strategic Culture of Muammar Qaddafi, October 2000 [31 Pages, 0.2mb] – In September of 1969, Muammar al-Qaddafi then a virtually unknown army officer in his late twenties rose to the leadership of Libya. Armed with a vision of Arab unity and anti-colonialism, he led a small group of his fellow officers who called themselves the Free Officers Movement. In a virtually bloodless coup, they ousted the aging (and absent) King Idris Al-Sanusi and established Libya as a republic. During the 30 years since, Qaddafi has emerged as a charismatic and complicated leader. Considered by Westerners to be bizarre and irrational, he has been branded a terrorist and a rogue. Among some of his fellow Arabs, he is praised as a virulent anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist, while others condemn him as a plotter and an adventurer whose zealous pursuit of Arab, African, and Islamic unity has only resulted in destabilization. Qaddafi remarked in 1976 that atomic weapons will be like traditional ones, possessed by every state according to its potential. We will have our share of this new weapon. In 1987 Reuters quoted him as saying: The Arabs must possess the atom bomb to defend themselves, until their numbers reach one thousand million and they learn to desalinate water and until they liberate Palestine. 1 Qaddafi places little faith in his armed forces and dreads a repeat of the 1986 U.S. air strikes against Tripoli and Benghazi. Reflecting on the air strikes, Qaddafi has wistfully spoken of possessing a ballistic missile capability that could threaten New York.2 Few state leaders have expressed such single-minded determination to obtain chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. This determination, coupled with Qaddafi s long-term association with terrorism, has caused grave concern among other nations especially the United States and Israel.
4. Libya: A Future Arab Democracy [43 Pages, 0.6mb] – Libya has overthrown its long time dictator Muammar Gadhafi with the aid of both Western and Arab militaries. The United States acted under the authority of U.N. mandate 1973 as part of a broad coalition of both NATO and Arab Nations primarily in a supporting role. In Libya, as in its neighbors Egypt and Tunisia, the successful revolution has now established transitional governments who’s effectiveness is yet to be determined. Unlike other Arab nations, Libya possesses a combination of vast oil reserves, a small and balanced population, and a relatively high education level in its citizens. These factors all bode well for the establishment of a lasting representative government. If successful, Libya can not only secure its borders, and deny safe haven to terrorism as is the declared interest of the United States, but also serve as a positive economic and political influence on the region. Egypt remains the most significant and strategic nation in the region, but the benefits of a successful Libya and the relatively low cost at which it may be achieved should not be overlooked.
5. Libya: Unrest and US Policy [43 Pages, 0.7mb] – Over 40 years ago, Muammar al Qadhafi led a revolt against the Libyan monarchy in the name of nationalism, self-determination, and popular sovereignty. Opposition groups citing the same principles are now revolting against Qadhafi to bring an end to the authoritarian political system he has controlled in Libya for the last four decades. The Libyan government’s use of force against civilians and opposition forces seeking Qadhafi’s overthrow sparked an international outcry and led the United Nations Security Council to adopt Resolution 1973, which authorizes “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians. The United States military is participating in Operation Unified Protector, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military operation to enforce the resolution. Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and other partner governments also are participating. Qadhafi and his supporters have described the uprising as a foreign and Islamist conspiracy and are attempting to outlast their opponents. Qadhafi remains defiant amid continuing coalition air strikes, and his forces continue to attack opposition-held areas. Some opposition figures have formed an Interim Transitional National Council (ITNC), which claims to represent all areas of the country. They seek foreign political recognition and material support.
6. A Nation at the Periphery: Libyan Regionalism Revisited [43 Pages, 0.6mb] – This article places the current Libyan conflict in historical perspective by focusing on the dynamics between the country’s two main regions (Tripolitania and Cyrenaica) during key moments of the 20th century. Particular attention is given to the different way each of the two regions approached the early period of Italian colonialism, from 1911 to 1923. The paper shows that historical relations between the two regions are characterized by both independence and interdependence and that this pattern is reemerging as the country transitions to a new era.
7. Personnel Recovery: Strategic Importance and Impact, December 2012 [31 Pages, 0.6mb] – The breaking news from countless media venues in March 2011 was captivating and compelling: while taking part in coalition operations in Libya, a US Air Force F-15E, call sign Bolar 34 had gone down east of Benghazi. The two crew members had ejected into a chaotic battle between the despotic Libyan regime and opposition forces supported by the coalition. As our nation prayed for the two Airmen, President Barack Obama heard a briefing on the event and monitored the situation as rescue forces from a US Marine task force in the area and opposition ground forces quickly dashed in to recover both men. In many ways, this heartwarming story resembled accounts of other rescues performed in earlier conflicts. The saga of Bolar 34 joined the lore of rescue missions that grace the proud history of our nation.