New Problem for Benghazi Accountability Review Board?

The “Independent” Accountability Review Board (ARB) commissioned by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to investigate security lapses at Benghazi, may have new problem to deal with thanks to witnesses to the attack. They are testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee this week. Though the testimony is taking place behind closed doors, Catherine Herridge of Fox News is reporting on what may be tangible inconsistencies between the accounts of these witnesses and information not included in the ARB’s Unclassified Report. This key portion of Herridge’s report comes near the end.

Pickering: Benghazi ARB Chairman.

Pickering: Benghazi ARB Chairman.

Via Fox News:

While the sessions are not open to the public, sources told Fox News that the timeline offered by some of the contractors may differ from the public narrative that there were two distinct waves to the attack — first at the consulate at approximately 9:40 p.m. local time and then at the CIA annex the following morning, separated by a lull in the fighting.

The fighting was characterized to Fox News as being more “constant, consistent” throughout the attack’s seven-hour duration. If there was no lull in the fighting, it raises more questions about the lack of a significant military response to the Benghazi assault — during that time, Stevens’ whereabouts were unknown. {emphasis ours}

Let’s now take a look at page 25 of the ARB Report, remembering that the attack on the Special Mission Compound (SMC) began at approximately 9:40pm local time:

The DS vehicle then proceeded to the Annex, arriving around 2330 local. There the ARSOs joined Annex personnel and took up defensive positions, to await the Annex security and Tripoli response team. The situation was relatively quiet. Wounded personnel received medical support. {emphasis ours}

According to the ARB, the Annex came under fire upon the arrival of security teams at the Annex soon thereafter (pages 26-27):

Just before midnight, shortly after the DS and Annex security teams arrived from the SMC, the Annex began to be targeted by gunfire and RPGs, which continued intermittently for an hour. Annex security personnel engaged from their defensive positions, which were reinforced by DS agents. Other personnel remained in contact with Embassy Tripoli from the Annex.

The seven-person response team from Embassy Tripoli arrived in Benghazi to lend support. It arrived at the Annex about 0500 local. Less than fifteen minutes later, the Annex came under mortar and RPG attack, with five mortar rounds impacting close together in under 90 seconds. Three rounds hit the roof of an Annex building, killing security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty… {emphasis ours}

The key window here is the time between 0100 – 0500. The ARB omits any mention of what happened during this time frame. If the Annex was under “gunfire and RPG” attacks “intermittently” until 0100, one of two things must have happened thereafter. Either the attacks became more sustained or they ceased. Readers of the ARB report are left to conclude that they ceased because nothing is said about what happened thereafter until the arrival of help from Tripoli at 0500.

Based on what the report does say, the reader is left to conclude that the Annex was under attack from just before midnight until approximately 0100. The ARB report implies – by omission – that the Annex was not under any attack until shortly after 0500.

If Herridge’s sources are correct, it would seem to indicate that the Annex may have been under some form of attack during that time. An admission by the ARB that this was the case would undercut a key narrative that the Pentagon thought the attacks were over, which is why help was not sent. If the attacks never really ended, the ARB – and the Obama administration – may have some more explaining to do.