Contractors Speak Out About Clinton State Dept. Security Lapses in Benghazi and Attempt to Silence Them
Five years after the Benghazi terror attack, two American security contractors have finally come forward to talk about the shocking security lapses of Hillary Clinton’s State Department and how they faced pressure to stay silent. The pair didn't speak out sooner out of fear that the Obama administration would retaliate against their firm, Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions.
Brad Owens and Jerry Torres spoke exclusively with Catherine Herridge of Fox News on Tuesday about what they called "the poor choices" that led to the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALS Ty Woods and Glenn Doherty on Sept. 11, 2012.
Owens and Torres claim that the State Departmenet hired a cheap and inexperienced security company to protect the Benghazi compound, and that by the time State realized its mistake it was too late. After the terror attack, a State Department official reached out to the pair to pressure them into silence.
They now say the very bureaucrats who made the "poor choices" about Benghazi security are still employed at the State Department five years later.
"Nothing has changed," Torres told Herridge.
Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions provides security for U.S. Embassy and consulate personnel around the world in some of the most dangerous locations spanning Africa, the Middle East and South America, according to the firm.
Jerry Torres remains haunted by the fact that specific bureaucrats and policies remain in the State Department after the Benghazi attack despite the change in administrations. "A U.S. ambassador is dead and nobody is held accountable for it. And three guys … all died trying to defend him," said Torres, the company’s CEO and a former Green Beret.
Asked if there was a specific effort by a senior State Department contracting officer to silence them, Torres said, "Absolutely, absolutely."
Owens, a former Army intelligence officer, echoed his colleague, saying those “who made the poor choices that actually, I would say, were more responsible for the Benghazi attacks than anyone else, they're still in the same positions, making security choices for our embassies overseas now."
Owens told Fox News that it was well-known that Islamic radicals, including Al Qaeda-tied militias, had poured into Libya after the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi in the fall of 2011. The result was a gravely precarious security situation that should have been taken seriously by the State Department.
Instead, State cut corners and hired a UK-based security company that was much smaller and vastly less experienced than Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions to handle security at the compound. Making matters worse, State's choice, the Blue Mountain Group, hired guards that were unarmed.
Owens, who had personally visited the Benghazi compound to assess security, was shocked. "Blue Mountain U.K. is a teeny, tiny, little security company registered in Wales that had never had a diplomatic security contract, had never done any high threat contracts anywhere else in the world that we've been able to find, much less in high threat areas for the U.S. government. They had a few guys on the ground," he said.
According to Torres, the Blue Mountain Group came in 4 percent lower than their bid – and they challenged the decision, claiming the American company should have been preferred over the foreign one.
Torres said State Department contracting officer Jan Visintainer responded that the State Department had the “latitude to apply” that preference or not.