Here we go again.
One of the enduring questions from the 9/11/12 massacre at the US consulate in Benghazi and the subsequent attack on a CIA annex there has been “Where was the cavalry?”, when we had forces available in the area that might have saved the ambassador and three others who died.
An investigation by the Republican-lead House Armed Services Committee determined that American forces in nearby countries could not have responded in time, though they blamed the White House for not being prepared. (As do I.) They also concluded that there was no stand-down order for the quick reaction force in Tripoli and that it could not have arrived in time to save lives.
Fair enough. But what about the CIA team in the “annex?” There had been earlier reports that a rescue force was delayed for roughly half-an-hour, before deciding to go on their own volition. Now, in an interview to air on Bret Baier’s “Special Report” tonight at 7 PST, three of the contractors at the annex who survived the battle have accused their boss of holding them back:
The security contractors — Kris (“Tanto”) Paronto, Mark (“Oz”) Geist, and John (“Tig”) Tiegen — spoke exclusively, and at length, to Fox News about what they saw and did that night. Baier, Fox News’ Chief Political Anchor, asked them about one of the most controversial questions arising from the events in Benghazi: Was help delayed?
Word of the attack on the diplomatic compound reached the CIA annex just after 9:30 p.m. Within five minutes, the security team at the annex was geared up for battle, and ready to move to the compound, a mile away.
“Five minutes, we’re ready,” said Paronto, a former Army Ranger. “It was thumbs up, thumbs up, we’re ready to go.”
But the team was held back. According to the security operators, they were delayed from responding to the attack by the top CIA officer in Benghazi, whom they refer to only as “Bob.”
“It had probably been 15 minutes I think, and … I just said, ‘Hey, you know, we gotta– we need to get over there, we’re losing the initiative,’” said Tiegen. “And Bob just looks straight at me and said, ‘Stand down, you need to wait.’”
“We’re starting to get calls from the State Department guys saying, ‘Hey, we’re taking fire, we need you guys here, we need help,’” said Paronto.
After a delay of nearly 30 minutes, the security team headed to the besieged consulate without orders. They asked their CIA superiors to call for armed air support, which never came.
Now, looking back, the security team said they believed that if they had not been delayed for nearly half an hour, or if the air support had come, things might have turned out differently.
“Ambassador Stevens and Sean [Smith], yeah, they would still be alive, my gut is yes,” Paronto said. Tiegen concurred.
“I strongly believe if we’d left immediately, they’d still be alive today,” he added.
An unidentified “intelligence official” denied there was a stand down order, but these three swear those exact words were used to them: “stand down.” The question, if this account is true, is did “Bob” act on his own, or did he have instructions from above?
This is a question that needs answers. We already have a special select committee investigating Benghazi, and the Chairman has said these new allegations will be part of that investigation.
The victims and their families deserve no less than the truth.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)