On Friday, Glenn reacted to the claims made in a new book, 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, by several security operators responsible for guarding the CIA station in Benghazi, Libya. These men were on the ground in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 when terrorists attacked the United States consulate, killing four Americans. On radio this morning, commandos Mark “Oz” Geist and John “Tieg” Tiegen joined Glenn to discuss the stand down orders they received that tragic night.
“We want to spend a few minutes with two guys that may change your point of view on Benghazi,” Glenn said. “If you happen to believe that we didn't have the resources, we didn't have any planes, we didn't have any way to save the ambassador, that this was just a spontaneous event, that no one was told to stand down, you need to listen to the next few minutes.”
As Glenn explained, Geist was the oldest member of the security team. Having spent a dozen years in the Marine Corps, Geist became a police chief in Colorado before running a private investigation company. In 2004, Geist became a security contractor for the State Department. Tiegen, meanwhile, is a former Marine, who spent several years as a security contractor for Blackwater in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq before joining the CIA's Global Response Staff.
“This is a story of what happened on the ground… It's the part that's not been told yet,” Geist said. “All the talking points have been told, but the view point of those of us that were on the ground, of what we dealt with, and what we had to do to save the lives of the State Department guys and of the 25 other personnel over at the annex, hasn't been told yet.”
While U.S. officials have denied a stand down order was ever given, both Geist and Tiegen said they were each told to both “wait” and “stand down” at least three times. At that point, the team at the CIA annex was aware of the attack at the consulate, and both Geist and Tiegen said they eventually defied orders.
“We left on our own. It wasn't [a] very hard [decision],” Tiegen said. “I just kind of wish we left a little sooner, instead of waiting the three times. We should have just waited the one time and left. I mean, it was something that had to be done.”
“I kind of put it this way, Glenn,” Geist added. “You have six highly trained, very experienced operators that not only trained in getting in the gun fight or getting out of a gun fight, but in observation, in information gathering, and you want to keep them from going over and at least getting eyes on [the situation] and depend on the local nationals to tell you your intelligence?”
Both men believe the leadership on the ground in Bengahzi “did what they thought was correct.” When asked why they weren’t asked to respond, Geist theorized commanders might have hoped to be able to maintain a lower profile.
“Why would you have been told to stand down or wait, when this situation was so obviously dire,” Pat asked.
“To possibly utilize the other assets they had or believed they had,” Geist said. “[It] puts a lower profile of our presence there.”
“So they didn't want everybody to know how many people we had there,” Pat pressed.
“You know, I can't speak for them,” Geist added. “But I would think that would be a prudent thing to think about in a normal setting.”
Ultimately, Tiegen was adamant something could have been done to save the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and the other Americans who died that night had different steps been taken.
“I believe strongly, if we would have left within the five minutes that we got ready, that Sean [Smith] and the Ambassador would still be alive,” he concluded. “They died of smoke inhalation, not from a gunshot wound or anything else.”