(CBS News) On the night of the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, a team of American military commandos was sent from Europe to an airfield at Sigonella, in Sicily, Italy, putting them at least an hour’s flight away from Benghazi, CBS News has learned.
The team, known as the Commander’s In-extremis Force, was designed specifically for quick reaction to unforeseen emergencies. But U.S. officials say it did not arrive in Sicily until after the attack was over.
Even if the team had been ready in time, confusion about what was happening on the ground in Benghazi — and State Department concerns about violating Libyan sovereignty — made a military rescue mission impractical, the officials say.
That confusion can be read in State Department cables from the day of the attack. At 4:05 p.m. ET, a cable warned the consulate was under attack. Forty-nine minutes later, another cable reported that the firing had stopped and the compound had been cleared.
The government security camera footage of the attack was in the possession of local Libyans until the week of Oct. 1. The video will be among the evidence that the State Department’s review board will analyze to determine who carried out the assault.
JUST NOT available to Congress!