Witnesses differ with US over when Libya consulate attack began

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BENGHAZI, Libya — Witnesses in Benghazi, Libya, provide a chronology for the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate here that differs in significant ways from timelines released by U.S. officials in Washington, raising more questions about how the assault unfolded and the speed with which Americans at a nearby CIA annex responded to calls for help from the consulate.

The versions of the attack told here indicate that the last visitor who met with Ambassador Chris Stevens, who died in the assault on the consulate, departed at least 45 minutes earlier than U.S. officials in Washington have said. Witnesses here also suggest that the attack may have begun as many as 15 minutes earlier than officials in Washington have said.

The differences in the timelines could mean that CIA officers stationed in a compound 1.2 miles away may have waited 40 minutes before setting out to assist the consulate and might not have arrived until more than an hour after the attack began. A timeline released by the CIA says help was dispatched after 25 minutes and that it took the rescue squad 25 minutes to arrive.

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