Book: US Commandos Ordered to 'Stand Down' During Benghazi Attack

Authors say CIA station chief refused to let them begin rescue attempt
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2014 6:59 AM CDT
This Sept. 14, 2012, file photo shows Libyan military guards as they check one of the US consulate's burnt-out buildings in Benghazi.   (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon, File)
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(Newser) – A new book written by US commandos guarding the American consulate in Benghazi in 2012 says they could have saved American Ambassador Chris Stevens, but the CIA station chief there refused to let them respond when the attack began. The book, 13 Hours, was obtained by the New York Times and Fox News in advance of its release. “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,'" one of the authors, John Tiegen, tells Fox. "And Bob just looks straight at me and said, 'Stand down, you need to wait.'" (The CIA station chief is identified only as "Bob.")

After another 15 minutes or so, the commandos—all former US special operations forces—say they disobeyed orders and left for the consulate about a mile away, but by then it was too late to save Stevens and US technician Sean Smith. Two of the commandos were killed in subsequent fighting. The book—written by five commandos with Boston University journalism professor Mitchell Zuckoff—suggests the station chief ordered the commandos to wait because he wanted local militia to put down the attack instead, perhaps to avoid blowing the cover of the CIA base. That meshes with previous accounts by US officials, but the book provides the most detail to date about the initial delay, reports the Times. An intelligence official tells the newspaper that “a prudent, fast attempt was made to rally local support for the rescue effort" and that "there were no orders to anybody to stand down in providing support." The book is out next week.

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