In a new firsthand account of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, five former U.S. Special Forces fighters say they were told to stand down and wait for Libya militia allies to take care of the problem.
Substantial Libyan help never arrived, and when the American commandos ignored the order and intervened anyway, it was too late to save the lives of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and an American technician, they say in “13 Hours,” a book scheduled for release next week and obtained by The New York Times.
A CIA station chief repeatedly told the commandos to “stand down,” even as the fire at the diplomatic mission spread. They sat in their vehicles, fully armed, for 20 minutes. “If you guys do not get here, we are going to die!” a diplomatic security agent yelled over the radio.
The commandos speculate in the book that the station chief was trying to avoid exposing the CIA base by rallying the Libyan militia to take care of the problem, the Times reports.
“Hey, we gotta go now! We’re losing the initiative!” one commando says he told the station chief. “No, stand down, you need to wait,” he said, and later added, “We are going to have the local militia handle it.”
The commandos, then private contractors hired by the CIA, decided to ignore the order and intervene, and fought with the attackers on and off that night. But Stephens and the American technician died from smoke inhalation. Two members of their team also died in the fight.
The account by the other five members in the book is consistent with publicly known facts and chronology about the attack, the Times reports, and suggests the CIA station chief gave the orders on his own authority.
Fox News will present a documentary, “13 Hours at Benghazi — The Inside Story,” Friday at 10 p.m., featuring an exclusive interview with the commandos.