Tags: Benghazi Scandal | Fox News | Benghazi | Mitchell Zuckoff | 13 Hours

Commandos Say CIA Chief Prevented Benghazi Rescue

Commandos Say CIA Chief Prevented Benghazi Rescue
US ambassador's residence in the US consulate compund in Benghazi, Libya. (Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images)

Friday, 05 September 2014 01:45 PM

A team of commandos claim in a new book that they were delayed by the CIA station chief in Benghazi from saving the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and other Americans after terrorists stormed the diplomatic mission.

The book, "13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi" by Mitchell Zuckoff with the Annex Security Team, was obtained by The New York Times before going on sale next week.

Three members of the security squad are due to appear on a Fox News special tonight hosted by Bret Baier, giving a dramatic account of the events that took place on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, when Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the Libyan compound.

According to the book, the commandos were repeatedly told to "stand down" by the CIA station chief, referred to as only as "Bob," despite desperate calls over the radio from inside the mission while under siege by terrorists.

"If you guys do not get here, we are going to die," a diplomatic security agent then shouted to them, the book says, which eventually led to the commandos defying the station chief and racing to the mission a mile away.

The book is expected to fuel the controversy surrounding who was to blame for the security failure.

Republicans have claimed that President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were at fault for the lax security at the mission and not reacting quickly enough back in the United States to stop the attacks that lasted 13 hours.

The government has previously admitted that the CIA security team had first tried to enlist support from Libyan militia allies before rushing to the besieged mission to fight the terrorists, the Times reported.

The commandos were former members of American Special Forces teams and had been hired by the CIA as private contractors. Two of them, both former Navy SEALs, died fighting the attackers at the CIA annex during the battle, according to the Times.

Five of the security team members are co-authors of the book, written by Zuckoff, a professor of journalism at Boston University. Mark Geist, Kris Paronto, and John Tiegen are named, while the two others use pseudonyms.

While rushing to the mission, the commandos learned from radio pleas for help that the building had been set on fire. The ambassador and the technician, Sean Smith, died of smoke inhalation, according to the newspaper.

On the Fox News special, "13 hours at Benghazi: The Inside Story," at 10 p.m. (EDT), Geist, Paronto, and Tiegen said that within five minutes of hearing about the attack on the mission, the security team was ready for battle. But the top CIA officer in Benghazi refused to let them leave.

"It had probably been 15 minutes I think, and I just said, 'Hey, you know, 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.'"

Paronto said, "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.'"

After a half-hour delay, the commandos went into action without receiving an order. On the Fox News interview, they said that Stevens and Smith might have survived if the team had not been delayed or if air support had come earlier.

"They would still be alive, my gut is yes," Paronto said. And Tiegen added, "I strongly believe if we'd left immediately, they'd still be alive today."

In a statement to Fox News, a senior intelligence official said, "There were no orders to anybody to stand down in providing support."

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A team of commandos claim in a new book that they were delayed by the CIA station chief in Benghazi from saving the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and others after terrorists stormed the diplomatic mission.
Benghazi, Mitchell Zuckoff, 13 Hours
Friday, 05 September 2014 01:45 PM
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