1. Willful neglect, as of duty or principle.
2. a. The act of abandoning; abandonment.
b. A state of abandonment or neglect.
Within two hours of the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, that resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, an email was sent to the White House and State Department.
That first email was sent at 4:05 PM-ET (10:05 PM in Benghazi) and specifically mentioned that the Libyan group called Ansar al-Sharia, an al-Qaeda affiliated group, had claimed responsibility for the attacks. Fox News confirms that the addresses on the email included "a variety of national security platforms, whose addresses have been redacted, including the White House Situation Room, the Pentagon, the FBI and the Director of National Intelligence."
Two more emails were sent within the next two hours.
Internal government email sent Sept. 11 about ongoing attack on U.S. Consulate in Benghazi as published by Fox News
Yet, no action was taken to mobilize special operations forces or the significant military resources available in the region. The next morning, the President referred to the attack and other events against U.S. installations by radical Islamists as "bumps in the road."
In the six weeks since the assassinations in Benghazi, more questions than answers have emerged.
Why did the President and his administration deny any link to Islamist terror groups for weeks, promoting instead a false "spontaneous event" explanation?
Why did the Obama administration reject numerous requests for additional security by Ambassador Stevens and others for months before the attacks?
Why was the Embassy request for an extension of the 16 member Special Operations Security Team to remain in Libya to protect the Ambassador denied just a month before the attack?
And many, many more.
But to that list we must now add: Was there a dereliction of duty? Was there a willful neglect of duty, an abandonment of Ambassador Stevens and his staff? If so, why?
Here's a detailed timeline published by Reuters of the email exchanges on that fateful night of September 11:
The first email, timed at 4:05 p.m. Washington time - or 10:05 p.m. Benghazi time, 20-30 minutes after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission allegedly began - carried the subject line "U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack" and the notation "SBU", meaning "Sensitive But Unclassified."
The text said the State Department's regional security office had reported that the diplomatic mission in Benghazi was "under attack. Embassy in Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well."
The message continued: "Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four ... personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support."
A second email, headed "Update 1: U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi" and timed 4:54 p.m. Washington time, said that the Embassy in Tripoli had reported that "the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi had stopped and the compound had been cleared." It said a "response team" was at the site attempting to locate missing personnel.
A third email, also marked SBU and sent at 6:07 p.m. Washington time, carried the subject line: "Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack."
The message reported: "Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli."
While some information identifying recipients of this message was redacted from copies of the messages obtained by Reuters, a government source said that one of the addresses to which the message was sent was the White House Situation Room, the president's secure command post.
Other addressees included intelligence and military units as well as one used by the FBI command center, the source said.
It was not known what other messages were received by agencies in Washington from Libya that day about who might have been behind the attacks.
Intelligence experts caution that initial reports from the scene of any attack or disaster are often inaccurate.
By the morning of September 12, the day after the Benghazi attack, Reuters reported that there were indications that members of both Ansar al-Sharia, a militia based in the Benghazi area, and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African affiliate of al Qaeda's faltering central command, may have been involved in organizing the attacks.