Benghazi Annex Security Team Members Disagree Forcefully with House Intel Committee Report
A caller from Sanford, Florida, accused the men of lying about the Obama administration to boost book sales, saying that House Intelligence Committee report proved they were not telling the truth.
"Ma'am," Paronto said, "during the House intel subcommittee I looked at Mike Rogers in the eyes and I said, 'If we would have not been delayed -- which, we were delayed three times -- that we would have saved the ambassador's life and Sean Smith's life.'" He added, "Why he came out with the report, I don't know what to tell you on that. You're going to have to ask him. What we said in the book is what happened on the ground and that is the truth."
He insisted to another caller that they were the ones who knew the truth about what happened on the ground that night. "Whether [the House subcommittee] wanted to believe us or not, that's up to them," he said. "But there were no other people on the ground but us that night and our stories haven't changed. They haven't wavered. So if the subcommittee or whoever else wants to come out and say things that doesn't represent the book, you know, have them on the show and ask them."
"All we're going to do is keep telling what actually happened that night," Paronto told the caller.
Geist said that while the hearings that have taken place to date have been very useful, the investigation is far from complete and more must be done to determine what happened "so we don't repeat" what happened. "The only way to do that is to kick that horse until it's down and we've still gotta do that because we haven't reached the full complexity because not everybody that was on the ground there has been talked to."
Book TV host Peter Slen asked Paronto and Geist what they would have done differently the night of the attack in Benghazi if given the opportunity.
Paronto said he would have disobeyed orders earlier and left for the consulate. "If I had control of the supporting elements or had the ability to contact them, the supporting elements would have been there sooner," he said. But as far as the tactical movements of his team, he said he believes they did everything correctly from a military perspective. "That's why we were able to save lives and we were able to fight off an extremely large force," Paronto said. "The mistakes that we made on our end -- and I do take responsibility, whether people say I should or not -- us not leaving early enough and us not being able to save the ambassador's life. I take that personally." He repeated that not leaving soon enough -- not disobeying the stand-down order -- was their biggest mistake. "I don't know if everyone else agrees with that. It keeps me up at night."
Geist agreed. "Whether it was not our job to protect the ambassador, he's an American serving in an area of operations that we -- when we're there we feel that we're responsible, probably for any other American that's there," he said. "And the fact that we couldn't get over there quick enough, I think was probably one of the biggest things."