Benghazi Annex Security Team Members Disagree Forcefully with House Intel Committee Report
Saturday on C-SPAN's Book TV, CIA Benghazi annex security team members Kris Paronto and Mark Geist answered questions about a report released Friday by the House Intelligence Committee on the 9/11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in 2012. The two former CIA contractors pushed back forcefully against parts of the the committee's conclusions about the night that Ambassador Chris Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed in Benghazi.
The report by the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), chaired by Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, concluded that "the CIA ensured sufficient security for CIA facilities in Benghazi" and that "appropriate U.S. personnel made reasonable tactical decisions that night." The committee "found no evidence that there was either a stand down order or a denial of available air support." The report, according to the House Intelligence Committee, is meant to serve as the "definitive House statement on the Intelligence Community's activities before, during, and after the tragic events that caused the deaths of four brave Americans" so that the American public can separate "facts from the swirl of rumors and unsubstantiated allegations."
Kris "Tanto" Paronto, co-author of the book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, reacted to the report on Twitter Friday night and Saturday morning, prior to the C-SPAN interview:
During the Book TV interview, Paronto and Mark "Oz" Geist, who also co-wrote the book (along with Mark Teigen, who attended the interview but did not appear on camera), explained that it took them over an hour to get to the consulate from the time they heard about the attack. Asked why it took so long for them to reach the scene Paronto said, "That's the million dollar question."
Paronto stood by the claim made in the book that they were ordered to stand down, a claim that was disputed in this week's House Intelligence Committee report. "We were told to stand down. We were delayed for approximately 27 minutes on our compound," he said. "We do not know, as far as outside of our chain of command outside Libya, where that came from. We know that the stand down orders and the waits and the delays came from Libya. Came from chief of station, chief of base. Whether it came from anybody higher, we don't answer that. We don't know. And we'd like to know, but we have no idea."