CBS’s Sharyl Attkison reported Thursday that “during the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Obama Administration did not convene its top interagency counterterrorism resource: the Counterterrorism Security Group, (CSG).”
Attkison’s report cited a high-ranking government official:
“The CSG is the one group that’s supposed to know what resources every agency has. They know of multiple options and have the ability to coordinate counterterrorism assets across all the agencies,” a high-ranking government official told CBS News. “They were not allowed to do their job. They were not called upon.”
Information shared with CBS News from top counterterrorism sources in the government and military reveal keen frustration over the U.S. response on Sept. 11, the night ambassador Chris Stevens and 3 other Americans were killed in a coordinated attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya…
Counterterrorism sources and internal emails reviewed by CBS News express frustration that key responders were ready to deploy, but were not called upon to help in the attack.
Attkisson tracked down National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor and quizzed him on why the Counterterrorism Security Group was not called into session during the Benghazi mission attack. His response was a classic Obama administration dodge:
“From the moment the President was briefed on the Benghazi attack, the response effort was handled by the most senior national security officials in governments. Members of the CSG were of course involved in these meetings and discussions to support their bosses.”
But Attkisson reports that the situation soon devolved into chaos:
Absent coordination from Counterterrorism Security Group, a senior US counterterrorism official says the response to the crisis became more confused. The official says the FBI received a call during the attack representing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and requesting agents be deployed. But he and his colleagues agreed the agents “would not make any difference without security and other enablers to get them in the country and synch their efforts with military and diplomatic efforts to maximize their success.”
Another senior counter terrorism official says a hostage rescue team was alternately asked to get ready and then stand down throughout the night, as officials seemed unable to make up their minds.
A third potential responder from a counter-terror force stationed in Europe says components of [AFRICOM] — the military’s Africa Command based in Stuttgart, Germany — were working on course of action during the assault. But no plan was put to use.
“Forces were positioned after the fact but not much good to those that needed it,” the military source told CBS News.
“The response process was isolated at the most senior level,” says an official referring to top officials in the executive branch. “My fellow counterterrorism professionals and I (were) not consulted.”
The official says a protocol set forth in a classified presidential directive calls for the Counterterrorism Security Group (CSG) to be convened in the event of a possible terrorist attack. According to a public military document, the directive was designed to “synchronize the efforts of all the government agencies that have a role to play in the Global War on Terrorism.”
This latest revelation by CBS News is the most recent in a steady barrage of reports that knock down the Obama administration’s narrative that the President has been involved and engaged in proactively responding to the Benghazi attacks. It paints a picture of an unengaged President whose interests do not align with one of the core responsibilities of the Commander-in-Chief: to protect and defend our country’s diplomats around the world.