Minutes after the American consulate in Benghazi came under assault on Sept. 11, 2012, the nation's top civilian and uniformed defense officials—headed for a previously scheduled Oval Office session with President Obama—were informed that the event was a "terrorist attack," declassified documents show. The new evidence raises the question of why the top military men, one of whom was a member of the president's Cabinet, allowed him and other senior Obama administration officials to press a false narrative of the Benghazi attacks for two weeks afterward.
Gen. Carter Ham, who at the time was head of AFRICOM, the Defense Department combatant command with jurisdiction over Libya, told the House in classified testimony last year that it was him who broke the news about the unfolding situation in Benghazi to then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The tense briefing—in which it was already known that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens had been targeted and had gone missing—occurred just before the two senior officials departed the Pentagon for their session with the commander in chief.