Published On: Sep 13 2012 11:38:59 AM EDTUpdated On: Jun 17 2014 11:43:34 PM EDT
On Sept. 11, 2012, initial reports claimed a mob of angry protestors gather outside the U.S. temporary consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Protestors reportedly stormed the building, and Ambassador Christopher Stevens and information technolgy expert Sean Smith died of smoke inhalation. Here a portrait of Stevens is seen along with a condolence book outside the room of Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 14, 2012.
Two security personnel, former U.S. Navy Seals Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, were killed in a subsequent attack after helping to evacuate those at the consulate to a U.S. diplomatic annex. Here the remains of Stevens, Smith, Doherty and Woods are carried into a hangar during the Transfer of Remains Ceremony on Sept. 14, 2012, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.
Officials initially reported they didn't know whether the attacks were coordinated, but it appeared the source of the anger was a video made in the U.S. which mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.
The day after the attack, in an address from the Rose Garden, President Barack Obama said, "The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack. ... no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation."
On Sept. 16, 2012, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows. That day, she said, "We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned," and, "Soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that in that effort."
But on Sept. 19, 2012, an Obama administration official described the incident as a "terrorist attack." The following day, after days of repeating that the video mocking Islam caused the attack, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said: "It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Our embassy was attacked violently, and the result was four deaths of American officials." U.S. officials also back away from the theory that a protest led to the attack.
On Sept. 28, 2012, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (center) announced that despite initial reports the attack on the consulate was spontaneous, they now believe it was a terrorist attack.
On Oct. 1, 2012, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), demanded that U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice step down after making what he called misleading comments about the attack in Benghazi. Later in the month, several senior administration officials told CNN Rice's use of the word "spontaneous" to describe the attack came directly from an assessment provided by the CIA, which was not edited by the White House. This assessment was revised following Rice's use of the word.
In December 2012, an independent review of the September 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was released. The report cites "systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies" at the State Department.
On Jan. 23, 2013, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified for more than five hours before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Clinton acknowledged a "systemic breakdown" as cited by an Accountability Review Board but says that her department is taking additional steps to increase security at U.S. diplomatic facilities.
In April 2013, House Republican leaders released a 46-page interim progress report about the terror attack in Benghazi, in which they claim Clinton personally signed off on cuts in security at the compound, which they say would contradict her congressional testimony.
On May 15, 2013, the White House released more than 100 pages of emails detailing the development of unclassified talking points used to explain the attack. According to a CNN reports, "The emails indicate the CIA was likely the lead organization in developing the talking points, with the State Department recommending significant changes."
In August 2013, federal authorities filed the first criminal charges in the Benghazi consulate attack. Among those charged is prominent Libyan militia figure Ahmed Abu Khattala.
On Jan. 15, 2014, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on Benghazi. The report states that the majority of the committee believe that attack was "likely preventable" based on known security shortfalls at the facility and prior warnings.
On May 2, 2014, House Speaker John Boehner announced that he will form a select committee to investigate the 2012 terror attack. The move came after previously unreleased documents, including an email from a White House national security aide, added to questions about what the Obama administration knew about the armed assault and how it responded in the days after.
In June 2014, U.S officials said they had captured Libyan militia leader Ahmed abu Khattalah, who was described as a key suspect in the September 2012 attack. Khattalah was the first person arrested in connection with the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.