What You Need to Know About Libya Before Tonight's Debate

Sep. 28, 2012 - The director of public affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a statement saying, in part, " In the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo…As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists." The State Department eventually focused on an extremist militia and al Qaeda's North African presence as the forces behind the attack.

Oct. 10, 2012 - The former chief security officer for the American Embassy in Libya told a House committee examining the attack that the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security denied his request to extend the deployment of an American security team. State Department officials countered that keeping the team would not have stopped the attack because the team was based in Tripoli.

Oct. 11, 2012 - Vice President Joe Biden said during the vice presidential debate that the White House did not know about requests to increase security in Benghazi.

Oct. 15, 2012 - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CNN, "I take responsibility" for failing to defend against the attack in Libya. "I'm in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They're the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision."

Oct. 16, 2012 - During the second presidential debate, Romney suggested that there had been security lapses at the compound. Obama countered, and asserted that he, as commander in chief, is ultimately responsible, a contrast from Clinton's attempt to diffuse the situation the previous day. "I'm the president and I'm always responsible," he said. Moderator Candy Crowley pointed out that Obama had used the term "terror" immediately following the attack but that the administration took longer to explain what occurred.

Oct. 17, 2012 - Media outlets reported that Libyan authorities had labeled Ahmed Abu Khattala, a leader of the extremist militia Ansar al-Shariah, as the commander in the attack. He denied any involvement in the attack several days later.

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