A senior U.S. intelligence official discounted a Fox News report from last Friday 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, Libya.
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.
The official detailed a minute-by-minute account of what the official said occurred September 11.
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. 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 report also suggested that the officers on the ground asked for military backup 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.
-- Around 9:40 p.m.(local time) the annex receives the first call that the mission is under attack.
-- Fewer than 25 minutes later, a security team leaves the annex for the mission.
-- Over the next 25 minutes, the team members approach the compound, attempt to secure heavy weapons and make their way onto the compound in the face of enemy fire.
-- At 11:11 p.m., the requested drone surveillance arrives over the mission compound.
-- By 11:30 p.m., all U.S. personnel, except for Ambassador Chris Stevens, who is missing, depart the mission. The exiting vehicles come under fire.
-- Over the next roughly 90 minutes, the annex receives sporadic small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenade rounds. The security team returns fire and the attackers disperse at approximately 1 a.m.
-- At about the same time, a team of additional security personnel lands at the Benghazi airport and negotiates for transport into town. Upon learning the ambassador is missing and that the situation at the annex has calmed, the team focuses on locating Stevens and tried to obtain information on the security situation at the hospital.
-- It is still predawn when the team at the airport finally manages to secure transportation and an armed escort. Having learned that the ambassador was almost certainly dead and that the security situation at the hospital was uncertain, the team heads to the annex to assist with the evacuation.
-- They arrive with Libyan support at the annex at 5:15 a.m., just before the mortar rounds begin to hit the annex. Two security officers are killed when they take direct mortar fire as they engage the enemy. That attack lasts only 11 minutes before dissipating.
-- Less than an hour later, a heavily-armed Libyan military unit arrives to help evacuate the compound of all U.S. personnel.
One other American was killed in the attack.