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One Year After Benghazi Attack, 'Huge Gap' In Investigation

Sept. 11: The U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was aflame after coming under attack.
AFP/Getty Images
Sept. 11: The U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was aflame after coming under attack.

There are two sad anniversaries today. As we said earlier, the nation is pausing to mark the 12 years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

It's also been one year since four Americans — Ambassador Christopher Stevens, information management officer Sean Smith, and CIA security contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty — were killed in an attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

This week, The Washington Post reports that:

"U.S. counterterrorism officials have determined that several extremist groups, including Ansar al-Sharia, took part in last year's attack. ... But on the first anniversary of the attack, there is not 'anyone in custody who can tell us' specifics, including when, where and by whom the plot was hatched, and whether the Sept. 11 date was selected in advance or was a last-minute choice of opportunity, a counterterrorism official said. 'That is a huge gap,' said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation. 'What we lack is a source of information that puts us where we need to be.' "

What's more, The New York Times notes that:

"The Justice Department has indicted suspects. Intelligence officials have a general idea of where they are hiding. And the military has a contingency plan to snatch them if that becomes necessary. But the fledgling Libyan government, which has little to no control over significant parts of the country, like Benghazi and eastern Libya, has rebuffed the Obama administration's efforts to arrest the suspects."

Just how dangerous things remain in Benghazi was underscored Wednesday with the news that a car bomb exploded there near a building that "once housed the U.S. consulate," according to The Associated Press. There were no serious injuries.

Watch the Parallels blog later today for a post about "Libya, a year after Benghazi."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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