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Originally published Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 5:00 PM

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Editorial: the Benghazi timeline without the politics

Facts trump speculation. The CIA’s timeline of events surrounding the murderous attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, is welcome.

Seattle Times Editorial

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Errant second-guessing by politically motivated news commentators served at least one constructive purpose. More details on the attack in Benghazi, Libya, are known.

Fox News delivered a twisted narrative that was inaccurate no matter how often it was repeated. The irritant eventually flushed out the Central Intelligence Agency, which had been reticent to talk.

A timeline delivered to reporters by a CIA official who spoke anonymously described the intense efforts to assist Americans under attack at the U.S. consulate compound.

Contrary to a Fox News report last Friday, pleas for help were not ignored or put on hold with orders “to stand down.”

The new timeline details that effort and the time involved in rallying a local response and summoning help from out of town. The attack on the anniversary of Sept. 11 had the U.S. calling for help from friendly militias and a Libyan military unit. All of it happened with the spontaneity of an evolving emergency operation in unfamiliar territory.

The CIA was responding from a secret location, and the timeline suggests its operatives acted with all due urgency and bravery.

Any event that claims four U.S. lives, especially in a sensitive and hostile diplomatic environment, is open to scrutiny and, in the midst of a presidential race, can be expected to be exploited.

Politics are one thing. Facts are another. The CIA timeline is useful, and about a week late.

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