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Benghazi fallout: CIA reveals secret intelligence hub was nearby

The CIA on Thursday released a timeline that showed how it responded quickly to the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11. In doing so, it also revealed that it had a larger intelligence-gathering location a mile away.

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A man looks at documents at the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, after an attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens in this file photo.

Ibrahim Alaguri/AP

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A new account from the CIA of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, reveals that intelligence-agency operatives responded within a half hour to the assault by heavily armed fighters on the poorly guarded mission.

The timeline offered by senior intelligence officials Thursday also disclosed for the first time that two of the four Americans killed in the attack were actually CIA intelligence contractors – and not State Department security personnel, as they were previously identified.

Overall, the CIA’s depiction of the events that led to the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens offers new insight into US operations in the eastern Libyan city. It suggests that the small and lightly secured diplomatic mission served as a kind of cover for a larger but covert US intelligence presence, centered in an “annex” located about a mile from the consulate. This intelligence-gathering was focused on an area where Islamist extremists and Al Qaeda-affiliated militants were known to operate.

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