By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
September 11th will always be a somber date in American history. It has been 13 years since al-Qaeda terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, murdering nearly 3,000 people. It has been two years since the tragic deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya after the attacks on our U.S. Special Mission Compound and Annex, attacks that a bipartisan Congressional report labeled “avoidable.” Not only was the attack avoidable, some contend, but the administration tried to manipulate the aftermath of the terrorist attack for political reasons. For example, earlier this year, Judicial Watch exposed through the Freedom of Information Act that the administration had failed to disclose emails to Congress that revealed their strategy to blame this attack on a YouTube video. This revelation is what finally convinced Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to allow the House to vote to create a Select Committee on Benghazi.
Similarly, Accuracy in Media’s Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi (CCB) will file its own set of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits this month, to circumvent administration stalling and assist others in the quest for truth. The CCB has filed more than 80 FOIA requests.
Questions still remain about what happened that night, and the CCB is dedicated to helping answer them: determining whether or not there was a dereliction of duty, whether the administration has switched sides in the Global War on Terror, and whether or not more help could have been sent that night. We published an interim report last April that dealt with those questions and more. But the investigation continues.
While the intelligence committees in Congress, the FBI, and others have spoken behind closed doors with many of those who were on the ground that night in Benghazi, America still had not heard from eyewitnesses to the attack—from those actually on the ground in Benghazi. Now we have, and the need for an investigation has become even more apparent. This month, members of the Annex Security Team came forward and said on Fox News that they were told to “stand down,” not once, but three times by “Bob,” the CIA Chief of Base in Benghazi.
But, apparently, this had happened before. In their book, which was just released on Tuesday of this week, the Annex Team and Mitchell Zuckoff discuss the events leading up to that night. This apparently wasn’t the first time that Tyrone Woods, a former Navy SEAL and one of the victims that night in Benghazi, had been harassed by what the Annex Team suspects was Ansar al Sharia. “Rone and the other operator believed that their antagonists were from the extremist Ansar al-Sharia Brigade,” states 13 Hours in Benghazi. “The heavily armed militiamen told Rone that the supplies now belonged to them. Rone and the other GRS operator raised their assault rifles and declined the offer to be robbed.”
13 Hours in Benghazi continues:
“Rone and the other GRS operator raised their assault rifles and declined the offer to be robbed. Rone radioed for backup from his fellow GRS operators still at the Annex. But the CIA’s top officer in Benghazi, a man known publicly only as ‘Bob,’ instead promised that he’d alert the 17 February Martyrs Brigade and have the ostensibly friendly militia serve as a Quick Reaction Force. Hearing Rone’s call for help, other GRS operators at the Annex had grabbed guns and gear and rushed to an armored car. But Bob, the CIA base chief, ordered them to stay put. After fifteen tense minutes, during which several GRS operators argued with Bob, Rone radioed that he’d talked his way out of the standoff without firing a shot. Had it escalated, the outnumbered and outgunned Americans would have stood little chance. No ‘friendly’ 17 February militiamen ever arrived to help.”
This serves as a dramatic prequel to what happened during the Benghazi attacks on the Special Mission Compound on September 11. Members of the Annex Team said on Fox News that they believe they could have saved Ambassador Chris Stevens’ and Sean Smith’s lives if they hadn’t been delayed 25 minutes by Bob that night. Ultimately, they left to go attempt a rescue in defiance of orders. In the second instance, the February 17 Martyrs Brigade also proved unreliable.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a member of the Select Committee on Benghazi, responded to the Annex Team’s televised broadcast by writing that the personnel were trying to “secure local assistance and avoid ambush” when this crucial 25-minute delay occurred. As the story above demonstrates, the CIA already knew that the February 17 Martyrs Brigade couldn’t be counted on in a fight. So why did the State Department keep them on?
And why didn’t coverage of this book, 13 Hours in Benghazi, by The New York Times or Washington Post draw attention to this important precedent? Instead, the Post’s Erik Wemple cast this as old news.
The Select Committee is heating up and reportedly will hold its first hearing next week. As AIM and the CCB have demonstrated, Democrat Members of the Select Committee and the media are on the defensive, trying to maintain the elective viability of presidential hopeful, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Political considerations should not get in the way of finding out the truth about the events of September 11, 2012. Accuracy in Media and the CCB are committed to continuing the Benghazi investigation.