A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a 60 Minutes report that appeared to blow large holes in the Obama administration’s story about what happened the night of September 11th, 2012, when our consulate in Benghazi was attacked and four Americans, including he ambassador, were killed. The report featured, but wasn’t solely based on, the testimony of “Morgan Jones,” the pseudonym of Dylan Davies, a security contractor employed by the Blue Mountain Group who had claimed to be at the compound while it was under attack and to have seen Ambassador Stevens body in the hospital in Benghazi.
About a week later, the story blew up in “60 Minutes” and journalist Lara Logan’s face when it became evident that there were serious questions about Davies’ credibility. CBS rapidly retracted their story and profusely apologized:
The correspondent for the disputed “60 Minutes’’ segment about the attack on the United States Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year apologized on the air Friday morning, saying it was a “mistake’’ to put on a security officer whose credibility has since been undermined by his diverging accounts of his actions that night.
The correspondent, Lara Logan, said on “CBS This Morning’’ that the news division was misled by the officer, adding, “We will apologize to our viewers, and we will correct the record on our broadcast on Sunday night.”
The apology followed disclosure by The New York Times on Thursday evening that the security contractor, Dylan Davies, had provided the F.B.I. an account that contradicted a version of events he provided in a recently published book and in the interview with “60 Minutes,” which was broadcast on Oct. 27.
Mr. Davies told the F.B.I. that he was not on the scene until the morning after the attack.
This was humiliating for Logan, “60 Minutes,” and CBS, the latter of which was still smarting from the Dan Rather “fake but true” scandal of 2004. They had been working on the story for a year, yet somehow missed FBI reports that called his claims into serious question. With the apology and retraction, that should put an end to this aspect of the story.
But something keeps bugging me.
This cave-in by CBS happened awfully fast, like a sand castle crumbling before a wave. Davies wasn’t by any means the only source for the story, nor even the most important — just the most dramatic, and hence his leading story in the video report. (The video has been withdrawn by CBS, but you can review the transcript at RCP) But also interviewed were Greg Hicks, the Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya on the night of the attack, and Lt. Col. Andy Wood, a Green Beret based in Tripoli at the time of the attack. Were their stories invalidated in any way? Frankly, no. In fact, Woods’ testimony corroborates what Davies had said about the looming danger in Benghazi and that people knew something was going to happen:
The last time he went to Benghazi was in June, just three months before the attack. While he was there, al Qaeda tried to assassinate the British ambassador. Wood says, to him, it came as no surprise because al Qaeda — using a familiar tactic — had stated their intent in an online posting, saying they would attack the Red Cross, the British and then the Americans in Benghazi.
Lara Logan: And you watched as they–
Andy Wood: As they did each one of those.
Lara Logan: –attacked the Red Cross and the British mission. And the only ones left–
Andy Wood: Were us. They made good on two out of the three promises. It was a matter of time till they captured the third one.
Lara Logan: And Washington was aware of that?
Andy Wood: They knew we monitored it. We included that in our reports to both State Department and DOD.
Andy Wood told us he raised his concerns directly with Amb. Stevens three months before the U.S. compound was overrun.
Regarding Davies own story, the fabricated part, if any, seems to be the description of his own heroics — entering the compound, fighting a terrorist, and sneaking into an al Qaeda-controlled hospital where he found Ambassador Stevens corpse. Perhaps he was trying to pump sales his now-recalled book and lay the groundwork for a movie deal.
But, the important parts, about the security problems in Benghazi and the question of American awareness of the danger, are seemingly unchallenged. Why then did CBS and Logan surrender so quickly? Why didn’t they say they’d “get to the bottom of this” and then figure out which parts were true and which not? As it stands, they’ve created a problem for anyone who questions the official account of what happened that night.
Journalist Lee Stranahan wondered similar things and points out that the FBI people who disputed Davies’s story have never been identified and that the effort to discredit Davies was being pushed by Media Matter’s For America, a hard-left media house that devoted itself to seeing Hillary Clinton elected President.
Clinton was Secretary of State on the night of the attack.
Stranahan reviews a long list of data from Logan’s report that’s not in dispute. Here are a few:
- Quick reaction force from the CIA Annex ignored orders to wait and raced to the compound and repelled a force of as many as 60 armed terrorists and managed to save five American lives and recover the body of Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith
- The same force that had gone to the compound was now defending the CIA Annex. Hours later, they were joined by a small team of Americans from Tripoli.
- Wood: attack required “Coordination, planning, training, experienced personnel. They practice those things. They knew what they were doing. That was a– that was a well-executed attack.”
- Two Delta Force operators who fought at the Annex and they’ve since been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cros
- Hicks told no help coming “”Listen, you’ve gotta tell those guys there may not be any help coming.”
So, why did CBS surrender so fast? Forgive my indulgence in a little bit of speculation, but could the fact that the brother of the head of CBS News works in the White House on the National Security Council and was a central figure in the revising of the controversial Benghazi talking points be significant?
Nah. Must be a coincidence.
RELATED: More Stranahan on Davies and that FBI interview. Did Congress know?
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)