The honor given behind closed doors to “Bob,” the officer who was in charge of the Benghazi intelligence annex and CIA base that was attacked in the early morning of September 12, 2012 and then abandoned for nearly three weeks, illustrates the murky lines of command that preceded the attack, and helped make it a politically volatile issue. While the State Department was responsible for elements of the security for the diplomatic mission at Benghazi, the mission itself was used primarily for intelligence activities and most the U.S. officials there and at the nearby annex were CIA officers who used State Department cover.

That purposeful ambiguity between diplomatic and intelligence efforts abroad has meant that at home, the State Department has taken almost all of the public blame for an error that was in part the fault of the CIA. And while CIA contractors performed heroically on the evening of the Benghazi attacks, Bob was also responsible in part for one major failure the night of the Benghazi attack: his officers were responsible for vetting the February 17 Martyr’s Brigade, the militia that was supposed to be the first responder on the night of the attack, but melted away when the diplomatic mission was attacked…

Another U.S. intelligence official disputed this view. This official said the failure for the CIA at Benghazi was the mistaken assumption that the Zintan tribe in Benghazi—that provided many of the fighters for the February 17 Martyr’s Brigade—would have the same loyalties as the Zintan tribe in Tripoli, which had protected several senior U.S. officials including Hillary Clinton in her visit last year to Libya. “The CIA failed at mapping the human terrain,” this official said. “They did not understand the politics in Benghazi and we paid the price.”