The first communications to CIA, reporting the attack, were almost simultaneous with the first shots fired. This will have generated a FLASH (Z) precedence message. This is “reserved for initial enemy contact messages or operational combat messages of extreme urgency. Brevity is mandatory. FLASH messages are to be handled as fast as humanly possible, ahead of all other messages, with in-station handling time not to exceed 10 minutes. Messages of lower precedence are interrupted on all circuits involved until the handling of FLASH messages are completed.” This message would have appeared in the White House Situation Room within ten minutes and the President would have been informed immediately. None of the foregoing procedures are subject to anyone's discretion. They must be followed.
Whether the President went to the Situation Room on being informed of the attack is unknown, because he has allowed no information on his activities that day to be released. That was the start of the coverup. We do know something of the information that was being sent, however.
A Predator drone that was already performing Libyan surveillance missions was moved into position over the compound shortly after the attack on the consulate began. It was joined thereafter by a second drone. Both were capable of sending real time visuals back to U.S. officials in Washington, D.C. Any U.S. official or agency with the proper clearance, including the White House Situation Room, State Department, CIA, Pentagon and others, could call up that video in real time on their computers.
Ahmed Abu Khattala, a leader of the Benghazi-based Islamist group Ansar al-Shariah, or "Partisans of Islamic Law," was observed commanding the attack that night. We don't know if that information was available in real time.
Two hours after the attack started, Obama was informed through unclassified channels that "the diplomatic mission is under attack. Embassy Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well." The SBU (Sensitive But Unclassified) email did not report any crowds, demonstrators or protestors. It is safe to assume that the urgent classified communications from CIA came to Obama and Clinton much sooner, and with far more detail. Other SBU emails, obtained by Reuters, specifically mention that Ansar al-Sharia had asserted responsibility for the attacks. Again there was never any mention of crowds, demonstrators or protestors.
Throughout the attack, which lasted for approximately seven hours, classified and unclassified information, real time surveillance video, requests for support, and reports from on-site personnel were pouring into the White House Situation Room. Remember the photos of what was described at the time as the “Commander in Chief overseeing the raid on Osama bin Laden's Pakistan compound from the White House Situation Room”? The attack was going on from early afternoon to late evening on a Tuesday, Washington time.
The Benghazi Diplomatic Mission is at geodetic coordinates: 32° 3′ 40.8″ N, 20° 4′ 51.3″ E. The CIA annex is about a mile from the mission. Google Earth imagery shows that there are hundreds of structures within a mile of the mission ranging from industrial to residential. On the night of the attack, at about midnight local, the terrorists found and attacked the annex with guns and mortars. That pretty much ruled out spontaneous demonstrators right then and there. That would have been included in the initial CIA assessments to the Situation Room.
It would strain credulity to suggest that the President chose not to follow the events in Libya that afternoon and was not completely aware of the nature of that attack.
The following day, Obama made an ambiguous statement in the Rose Garden that may or may not have acknowledged that this was a terrorist attack.
Immediately after Obama's statement though, administration spokespersons, including White House spokesman Jay Carney, maintained vehemently for two weeks that the attacks likely were a spontaneous protest against an anti-Muslim film. They offered no evidence to support that contention. Not the slightest shred of evidence ever indicated a spontaneous protest. The attack started in late evening and went on to 4 in the morning, local. Not a single report or photograph indicated protestors with the usual crude signs. Just well armed terrorists with heavy weapons.
After two weeks, faced with all the mounting and incontrovertible evidence, Obama was finally forced to admit that it was a pre-planned terrorist attack.
On October 17 The New York Times reported that "Libyan authorities have singled out Ahmed Abu Khattala, a leader of the Benghazi-based Islamist group Ansar al-Shariah, or "Partisans of Islamic Law," as a commander in the attack." This confirmed the unclassified email that Obama had received on September 11.
It is certain that he knew of the terrorist nature of the attack on the night it happened, and lied about it. It is certain that he had an active role in the denial of support to Benghazi and is covering it up.
Since the attack, Obama has stonewalled every attempt to find answers to the questions described in Part 4, to follow.