The Benghazi episode is best viewed as a series of three timelines. When fully exposed, the facts of the "pre" period before the attacks will tell us how high up the chain, and in which agencies, fateful decisions were made about security precautions for the consulate and annex in Benghazi. We also stand to learn how the planning for the attacks could have been put in motion without being detected until too late.
The second Benghazi timeline encompasses the five or six hours on the evening of Sept. 11 when the attacks transpired. A State Department briefing on Oct. 9 offered an account that was riveting but incomplete. When all of the facts of these hours are compiled, we will have a truer picture of the tactical capabilities of al Qaeda and its affiliates in North Africa. We will also learn what really happened to Amb. Stevens that night, and better appreciate the vulnerabilities with which our diplomatic corps, bravely serving at 275 installations across the globe, must still contend.
The third and final Benghazi timeline is the one that has fostered charges of a coverup. It stretches eight days—from 3:40 p.m. on Sept. 11, when the consulate was first rocked by gunfire and explosions, through the morning of Sept. 19, when Matthew G. Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, publicly testified before the Senate that Benghazi was a terrorist attack.
Mr. Olsen's testimony effectively ended all debate about whether the attacks had grown out of a protest over an anti-Islam video. Three days before Mr. Olsen put a stop to the blame-YouTube storyline, U.N. Amb. Susan Rice, echoing Mr. Carney, had gone on five Sunday TV chat shows and maintained that the YouTube video has spurred the violence.
Regarding the second thread, it turns out that there is a video of the entire, six-hour attack on the compound and related areas.
But as Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three colleagues were killed by terrorists armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, Defense Department officials were too slow to send in the troops, Berntsen said.
...Fighter jets and Specter AC-130 gunships — which could have been used to help disperse the bloodthirsty mob — were also stationed at three nearby bases, sources told the network...
Since the final debate tomorrow night concentrates on foreign policy, perhaps we'll be able to get answers to some of these questions.
Unless, of course, Candy Crowley comes barreling out of the stands and tackles Mitt Romney when he asks the President about the cover-up.