Official: Help Was in Benghazi within 25 Minutes

Senior U.S. intelligence official dismisses reports that CIA officials denied requests to assist during the attack in Benghazi.

Elad Benari,

Damage inside the burnt consulate building in
Damage inside the burnt consulate building in

A senior U.S. intelligence official discounted on Thursday a Fox News report from last week that said officials within the CIA chain of command denied repeated requests from its officers on the ground to assist during the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

According to a CNN report, the official insisted that the CIA operators on the ground were in charge of their movements and the safety of those who were preparing to respond was also an important consideration.

"There were no orders to anybody to stand down in providing support," the official said, according to CNN.

The official detailed the minute by minute account of what happened that night. There was a roughly 25 minute gap between when the officers at a nearby annex received the call for help from the mission to when the officers were able to get on their way to assist, he said.

During that time the officers at that annex location were getting their weapons loaded into vehicles, while others were on the phone trying to get local "friendly" militias with heavier weapons to help.

The Fox News report also suggested that the officers on the ground asked for military back-up but the CIA denied those requests. The official again said this report was wrong. The military, the official said, provided drone surveillance and a tactical security team to assist.

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama avoided answering a question by an interviewer, who asked him twice if it was true that the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was denied help as it came under attack.

The father of ex-Marine Tyrone Woods, who was killed in the attack, blamed the White House this week for refusing to send help to the consular compound in Benghazi.

"They watched my son die," said Charles Woods. "As far as I'm concerned, there are people, in the White House, whoever it was that was in that room, watching that video of my son dying, their cries for help, their order 'don't help them at all, let them die,' whoever that might be, it might be numerous people, you have the blood of my son, you have the blood of an American hero on your hands. I don't know who you are, but one of these days the truth will come out. I still forgive you, but you need to stand up."

When asked why he thinks the White House obfuscated the nature of the attack for weeks on end, Woods replied, "I don't know what their motivation is, but Hillary, a couple of days later when the bodies were flown in, she had the nerve to lie to me. I knew she wasn't telling me the truth. She's smarter than I am. She had to know the story she gave me about the film was not the truth either."

He was referring to the Obama administration spin that portrayed the attack as a spontaneous reaction by an angry Muslim crowd to an unprofessional anti-Islamic video made by a group of private citizens in California.

Meanwhile, new documents revealed by Foreign Policy magazine on Thursday found that on the very day of the attack, someone on the U.S. team in Benghazi apparently spotted a suspicious member of the local police force photographing the inside of the U.S. mission.

Foreign Policy reporters found a draft letter expressing concern among documents left on site more than six weeks after the attack.

Notations indicate the letter was intended for the head of the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Benghazi. It asked for an investigation of the suspicious photographing, but it's unclear whether the letter was sent and what action may have been taken.

Another draft letter dated two days before the attack complains that requested police support for the visit to the area by Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was murdered in the attack, had not been supplied.