Army special forces members were never told to stand down after the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the House Budget Committee on Wednesday.
Disputing earlier congressional testimony from Gregory Hicks, the second-in-command in Benghazi, Gen. Martin Dempsey said no stand down order was ever given during the brutal attacks that left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead, The Hill reports
"They weren't told to stand down. A 'stand down' means don't do anything," he said. "They were told that the mission they were asked to perform was not in Benghazi, but was at Tripoli airport."
The difference might be in wording. Though Hicks called the order a "stand down" and Dempsey did not, the Joint Chiefs chairman appeared to agree that the four special ops members were indeed told not to go to Benghazi.
In private testimony
prior to his May appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Hicks said he believed the attackers would have fled if the special ops members had been sent, saving the lives of two CIA security officer who died in the second attack.
Dempsey said Wednesday that the special forces members were told by their command in Stuttgart, Germany that the Americans in Benghazi were "on their way and that they would be better used at the Tripoli airport because one of them was a medic."
He noted, too, that, "if they had gone, they would have simply passed each other in the air."
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