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Did the CIA, NSA, or anyone else have intel that an attack was coming?

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s January 2014 bipartisan review found there was no warning.

Late US Senator John McCain(R) (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham(c) (R-SC), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) during a press conference November 14, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC regarding the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images
Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.

The short answer is no. The long answer is also no, but they definitely saw warning signs that US personnel in Benghazi were at general risk.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s January 2014 bipartisan review, one of the most comprehensive report on Benghazi to date, concluded that “there was no singular tactical warning in the intelligence reporting leading up to the events on September 11, 2012, predicting an attack on US facilities in Benghazi on the 9/11 anniversary.” In other words, there was no intel warning the US that an attack on its diplomatic mission was in the works.

However, there were hundreds of more general intelligence reports — from the CIA, DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), and Pentagon Joint Staff — warning that Islamist groups in Libya were ready and willing to hit US targets. Ambassador Stevens himself wrote several notes to higher-ups at the State Department to ask for more security support in Benghazi — which he never got. And there were also some more obvious signs of terrorist activity, like a RPG attack on the British Ambassador’s convoy in Benghazi exactly three months before the attack on the mission.

As a consequence of this threatening environment, the CIA made a number of (classified) security upgrades to its own separate facility in another part Benghazi, usually called the CIA annex. The State Department mailed the mission staff some new security cameras, but didn’t send over anyone to install them.

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