Fox’s Jennifer Griffin reports that there was a communications breakdown during the assault in which four Americans were killed at the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Top State Department officials decided not to send an interagency rapid response unit designed to respond to terrorist attacks known as a FEST team, a Foreign Emergency Support Team. This team from the State Department and CIA has a military Joint Special Operations Command element to it and has been routinely deployed to assist in investigations — for instance, after the USS Cole bombing and the bombings at the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
That team, these counterterrorism officials argue, could have helped the FBI gain access to the site in Benghazi faster. It ultimately took the FBI 24 days.
“The response process was isolated at the most senior level,” according to one intelligence source. “Counterterrorism professionals were not consulted and a decision was taken to send the FBI on its own without the enablers that would have allowed its agents to gain access to the site in Benghazi in a timely manner.” The FBI team did not get on the ground in Benghazi for several weeks after the attack and at that point any “evidence” had been rifled through by looters and journalists.
“A better response approach could have certainly allowed the FBI to access the site much sooner than the 24 days it would eventually take,” a source in the counterterrorism community said.
Further, the Counterterrorism Security Group, or CSG, was never asked to meet that night or in subsequent days, according to two separate counterterrorism officials, as first reported by CBS News.
Griffin’s story ends with a blockbuster.
Further, Fox News has been shown two independent State Department cables, which have now been published by Foreign Policy magazine, that show that on the day of the attack Stevens’ team sent cables expressing concern that the consulate was under surveillance. At least one of the cables says the Libyan police themselves — the security force provided to the U.S. consulate by the Minister of Foreign Affairs — was photographing the Consulate at 6:43 a.m. on the morning of the attack.
U.S. intelligence officials tell Fox News there were reports from eyewitnesses in Benghazi on Sept. 11 that an armed militia was gathering three hours before the attack on the consulate began at 9:47 p.m.