Three members of a U.S. security team in Libya during the Sept. 11, 2012 terror attack on the the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi say they were held back from immediately responding by a top CIA officer. The men were operating out of a secret CIA annex.
In an interview ahead of the release of a new book “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi,” security contractors Kris Paronto, Mark Geist, and John Tiegen spoke publicly about the attack with Fox News. Four diplomats were killed that night, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stephens.
Mr. Paronto said the team was ready to move to the compound within five minutes of hearing news of the attack just after 9:30 p.m., but were held back by the top CIA officer, whom they only refer to as “Bob.”
“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,’” Mr. Tiegen said. “And Bob just looks straight at me and said, ‘Stand down, you need to wait.’”
Mr. Paronto said that the security team started to get calls from the State Department employees begging for help, until finally the team defied orders and headed to the consulate nearly 30 minutes later. The team members said they asked their CIA superiors to send air support, which never came.
The men told Fox News that they believe the outcome would have been much different without the delay.
“Ambassador Stevens and Sean [Smith], yeah, they would still be alive, my gut is yes,” Mr. Paronto said in the interview.
A senior intelligence official insisted in a statement to Fox News that, “There were no orders to anybody to stand down in providing support.”