US officials: CIA wasn’t delayed in Benghazi rescue attempts

Republicans have accused the White House of a cover-up, as the administration’s account has shifted from blaming the attack on a protest over an anti-Islamic movie to a coordinated assault.

ADVERTISEMENT
The U.S. officials said they provided the detailed account of the CIA’s role in the attack and rescue efforts to rebut media reports of delays in providing help to State Department officials. The intelligence officials said there was no delay or order to “stand down,” and no interference or second-guessing from officials in Washington.

The senior intelligence officials provided a timeline of the events surrounding the attack, including a previously undisclosed detail that a CIA team in Tripoli quickly chartered a plane to reach Benghazi.

The team landed at the Benghazi airport after the initial attack, intending to locate the ambassador. As the team obtained transport and armed escort, the officials said, they learned the ambassador was almost certainly dead, and went to the CIA annex to assist with evacuation.

When the team arrived, mortar rounds began to hit the annex, killing the two security officers. The second attack lasted just 11 minutes, and less than an hour later a Libyan military unit arrived to evacuate the U.S. personnel from Benghazi.

— Jordy Yager contributed to this report.

This report was originally posted at 8:58 p.m. and last updated at 11:10 p.m.