I am saddened over the politicization of the Benghazi tragedy of 9/11/12. As a taxpayer, I should be able to know exactly what has and is being done to prevent future similar tragedies. On that fateful evening, four heroes lost their lives, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, his State Department assistant, Sean Smith, the San Diego Navy Seals, Glenn “Bub” Doherty and Tyrone “Rone” Woods.
There used to be a time when all sides of the aisle abided by an unwritten rule, “all politics stop at the water’s edge.” This protocol was practiced so that we could present a united front of US strength and solidarity, to the rest of the world. The priority of protecting our country’s interests took precedence over petty politics. This catastrophe which occurred in September 11, 2012 was thoroughly investigated and reported on by December 2013. This is after the 2012 ARB report was released and after the heroic 5 CIA- GRS military operators present during the Benghazi Battle, testified before Congress.
The major report issued about Benghazi is the study done by an (ARB)Accountability Review Board chaired by the Director for National Intelligence, Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, with Admiral Michael Mullen as Vice Chairman. The report which was published by December, 2012 is the gold standard to identify what went wrong and what needs to be addressed to prevent future similar tragedies.
The highlights of what happened on the evening of 9/11/12 in Benghazi are: 1.) Yes, the four deaths may have been preventable with the boots that were on the ground; 2.) There should have been a more proactive plan to upgrade the structural security of the various diplomatic compound buildings; walled fence and doors; safe room in the villa which did not have tools to prevent injury from smoke inhalation; 3.)This was also a CIA operation in which CIA personnel were located in an annex area, within a mile of the diplomatic compound; 4.) The CIA chief, “Bob” delayed the CIA “Global Response Staff” or GRS, a group of seven highly competent military operators at the nearby annex from responding to cries for help from the Diplomatic compound for a significant amount of time while he tried to find an alternative short of exposing the Annex as a CIA operation (The “stand down orders” were made by Bob, the CIA Chief prior to the start of the fire setting by rebels.); 5.) The GRS operators were fuming about being ordered to stand down while they kept hearing people in the close by compound, screaming to be rescued. (the delay was from 25 to 35 minutes.)
6.) Finally, as the cries from the compound became more desperate, the GRS operators agreed to ignore the CIA Chief’s stand down orders and took off to render assistance; 7.) Unfortunately, by the time the GRS operators acted, Ambassador J. Christopher Steven and his assistant, Sean Smith, who had been holed up in their villa’s safe room, died from smoke inhalation; 8.) There was no air fire support that could have reached Benghazi within the five hour total time span which was the duration of this battle; 9.) The invasion into the compound by rebel forces was a complete surprise to US personnel who were present; 10.) When the movie based on the book with first hand accounts from the 5 surviving GRS operators is released in January 2016, the public will finally be able to witness a real attempt at the true story from Hollywood.
The major resource that I frequently referred to for this blog is based on the 2015 published book, titled, “13 Hours- The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi,” by Mitchell Zuckoff with the Annex Security Team. The movie based on this book will be released on January 15, 2016. The following are some excerpts:
“Based on exclusive first hand accounts, it describes the bloody assault, tragic losses, and heroic deeds at the US Department Special Mission Compound and at a CIA base called the Annex in Benghazi, Libya, from the night of 9/11/12 into the morning of the next day.”
“The main source of this book are the 5 surviving American Security force contractors (two were killed during battle), known as “operators” who responded to the surprise attack on the Benghazi diplomatic compound; spearheaded the counter attack; and carried out the rescue of the State Department personnel and residents of the CIA Annex.”
“Previous accounts of these events, in books, magazines, and other media have disturbed and even disgusted the men whose story is told here. Versions with fictionalized dialogue, imaginary incidents, false or exaggerated claims and sensationalized allegations serve no purpose other than to inflame and obfuscate. The goal of the real security team members is to recount the Battle of Benghazi through as transparent a lens as possible. They and the family of a sixth operator have a financial stake in the book, but their only editorial demand was that the story be told truthfully.”
Background Information Which Sets the Stage for 9/11/12. (The cast of characters will be covered in a future blog.)
“The Annex was a CIA rented property which was the agency’s secret headquarters in Benghazi. Less than a mile from the Annex was the US public presence in the city: a walled estate known as the US Special Mission Compound which served as a base for the State Department diplomats.”
“The Annex, was a lush walled oasis in the rough desert of Benghazi. Originally built by a wealthy Libyan hotel owner as a multi- family compound, the property was nearly square and covered more than two acres. Its generous size, perimeter walls and multiple houses, but most of all, its proximity to the State Department’s Special Mission Compound made it an ideal base of operations.”
“On August 2, as (2 GRS CIA military operators) Rone and Jack pulled up to a steel gate in a ten foot high concrete and brick wall. Security cameras looked down on them. Although it was supposed to be a secret location, or at least a discreet one. Jack (new hire) immediately realized that they weren’t fooling anyone. Even a casual observer would have noticed the tight security, not to mention the car loads of Americans driving in and out, day and night.”
“A US government review of events in Benghazi during the spring and summer of 2012 found a general back drop of political violence, assassinations targeting former regime officials, lawlessness and an over arching absence of central government authority in eastern Libya.”
“On 6/25/12, America’s Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens sent a cable to Washington quoting local sources who said “Islamic Extremism” appeared to be rising in eastern Libya, and that al-Qaeda’s black and white flag has been spotted several times flying over government buildings. On 8/2, Ambassador Stevens sent another cable to Washington seeking more bodyguards.”
UPDATE: This blog was updated on 10/22/2015.
[PDF]Accountability Review Board – US Department of State http://www.state.gov/documents/…/202446.p…United States Department of StateClinton convened an Accountability Review Board (ARB) for Benghazi