CIA moved in to save diplomats during Libya attack

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WASHINGTON — The CIA rushed security operatives to an American diplomatic compound in Libya within 25 minutes after it had come under attack and played a more central role in the effort to fend off a nightlong siege than has been acknowledged publicly, U.S. intelligence officials said Thursday.

The agency mobilized the evacuation effort, took control of an unarmed U.S. military drone to map possible escape routes, dispatched an emergency security team from Tripoli, the capital, and chartered aircraft that ultimately carried surviving American personnel to safety, U.S. officials said.

U.S. intelligence officials insist that CIA operatives in Benghazi and Tripoli made decisions rapidly throughout the assault with no interference from Washington.

“There was no second-guessing those decisions being made on the ground, by people at every U.S. organization that could play a role in assisting those in danger,” a senior U.S. intelligence official said in a prepared statement that summarized the chronology of the attack and was made available to news organizations.

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