Nearly two years after the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, many details about what transpired that deadly night remain unknown. Based on testimony in a new book and interview with the security operators responsible for guarding the CIA station in Benghazi, however, there may have been a ‘stand down’ order given that night.
In a new book titled 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, members of the security team on the ground in Libya speak out for the first time about their experience.
“If you guys do not get here, we are going to die!” a diplomatic security agent allegedly shouted over the radio, the commandos say in their new book, according to the New York Times.
The Times goes on to say the team, comprised of former members of American Special Forces and hired as private contractors, were waiting in their vehicles fully armed and less than a mile from the consulate but were told to “stand down” by the base chief. The commandos say they eventually defied the stand down orders and left the base.
The commandos’ account — which fits with the publicly known facts and chronology — suggests that the base chief issued the “stand down” orders on his own authority. He hoped to enlist local Libyan militiamen, and the commandos speculate that he hoped the Libyans could carry out the rescue alone to avoid exposing the C.I.A. base.
No meaningful Libyan help ever materialized.
The commandos were former members of American Special Forces teams hired by the intelligence agency as private contractors. Two of the team, both former Navy Seals, died fighting the attackers at the C.I.A. base later that night. Five others are credited as co-authors of “13 Hours,” which was written with their cooperation by Mitchell Zuckoff, a professor of journalism at Boston University. Mark Geist, Kris Paronto and John Tiegen are credited by name, and two of the authors use pseudonyms.
In an expose airing on Friday, Fox News’ Bret Baier speaks to three of the security operators at the secret CIA annex in Benghazi about the events that unfolded on September 11.
“Five minutes, we’re ready,” Kris “Tanto” Paronto, a former Army Ranger and security contractor, told Fox News. “It was thumbs up, thumbs up, we’re ready to go.”
According to the team, however, a top CIA officer in Benghazi – who they refer to as “Bob” – told them to “stand down.”
“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,’” another security contractor, John Tiegen, told Baier. “And Bob just looks straight at me and said, ‘Stand down, you need to wait.’”
Both men believe if they had been able to respond immediately, Ambassador Chris Stevens and the other Americans who lost their lives that night would be alive.
“I strongly believe if we’d left immediately, they’d still be alive today,” Tiegen said.
Watch a preview of the Fox News interview below: