Benghazi: Security Officers Tell Fox that Yes, There Was a Stand-Down Order
Fox's Brett Baier interviewed three American security operators who were on the ground in Libya on the night of September 11, 2012. Terrorists linked to al Qaeda stormed the US facility in Benghazi, Libya that night and killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
The three security specialists tell Baier that a top CIA officer delayed responding to the assault three times, costing them 30 minutes during the firefight.
The security contractors -- Kris (“Tanto”) Paronto, Mark (“Oz”) Geist, and John (“Tig”) Tiegen -- spoke exclusively, and at length, to Fox News about what they saw and did that night. Baier, Fox News’ Chief Political Anchor, asked them about one of the most controversial questions arising from the events in Benghazi: Was help delayed?
Word of the attack on the diplomatic compound reached the CIA annex just after 9:30 p.m. Within five minutes, the security team at the annex was geared up for battle, and ready to move to the compound, a mile away.
“Five minutes, we're ready,” said Paronto, a former Army Ranger. “It was thumbs up, thumbs up, we're ready to go.”
But the team was held back. According to the security operators, they were delayed from responding to the attack by the top CIA officer in Benghazi, whom they refer to only 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,’” said Tiegen. “And Bob just looks straight at me and said, ‘Stand down, you need to wait.’”
“We're starting to get calls from the State Department guys saying, ‘Hey, we're taking fire, we need you guys here, we need help,’” said Paronto.
After a delay of nearly 30 minutes, the security team headed to the besieged consulate without orders. They asked their CIA superiors to call for armed air support, which never came.
Now, looking back, the security team said they believed that if they had not been delayed for nearly half an hour, or if the air support had come, things might have turned out differently.
“Ambassador Stevens and Sean [Smith], yeah, they would still be alive, my gut is yes,” Paronto said. Tiegen concurred.
“It happened on the ground-- all I can talk about is what happened on that ground that night,” added Paronto. “To us. To myself, twice, and to-- to Tig, once. It happened that night. We were told to wait, stand-- and stand down. We were delayed three times.”
Baier also asks the security officers whether the YouTube movie blamed by the Obama administration had anything to do with the attack. They say it had nothing to do with the attack at all.
The full interview airs tonight on Fox at 10 eastern.