Another CIA security team, sent as reinforcements out of Tripoli, arrived at the compound at 5:15am. Militants then launched a fresh assault against the annex and within minutes, two CIA employees were killed by a mortar round. The intelligence official rejected allegations the agency had failed to coordinate with the State Department.
However, contrary to what some State Department officials believed, the cooperation occurred “without formal interagency arrangements,” the official said. “If you’re on the ground in a dangerous place, you partner up. And that’s exactly what happened in Benghazi.”
Officials also defended the role of Petraeus, saying he was “fully engaged from the start,” especially in the rescue mission.
Petraeus was faulted by some for choosing not to appear at a ceremony marking the return of the bodies of the slain CIA employees and for attending the premiere of the film Argo the day lawmakers grilled the State Department over the attack.
The CIA chief stayed away from the ceremony at Dover Air Force Base because the three officers’ link to the agency had been kept secret and attending may have blown their cover, officials told the Journal.
A US Army general who rose to fame as commander of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Petraeus “receives daily updates on the issue and personally reviewed intelligence reports after the attack,” the official said. “This idea that he is somehow not engaged is baseless.”