Benghazi on the Record: Asked and Answered
Why was the CIA security team repeatedly ordered to stand down after the attack began, and who made that decision?
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The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence interviewed not only the CIA security team members on the ground that night, but also their supervisors. Republicans and Democrats agreed that although "some security officers voiced a greater urgency to depart for the TMF," "the Annex team left in a timely and appropriate manner" after "Annex leadership deliberated thoughtfully, reasonably, and quickly about whether further security could be provided to the team."
Sources that have answered this question:
- House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Bipartisan Report
- Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Bipartisan Report
- The Independent Accountability Review Board
- House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Republican January 2014 Update
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Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Mike Rogers:“We interviewed everybody in that chain of command, including the individual that they’re calling “Bob” on the compound, including the station chief who was in Tripoli at the time. …
“[T]he commander on the ground, this guy they’re calling ‘Bob,’ when these folks came up, they got in the vehicle and said, ‘Hey, we made a promise, we’re going.’ He said, ‘Wait a minute, I need to figure out (a) what’s going on, and (b) if I can get you any better weapons and maybe even some help to go. We don’t know if there is 5 people attacking the place or 500.’ …
“[I]t was the commander on the ground making a decision. I think it took 23 minutes before they all, including that commander by the way, got in a car and went over and rescued those individuals.”
Source: Fox News, Sept. 9, 2014
Multiple Sources Already Answered This Question
“The evidence from eyewitness testimony, ISR video footage, closed-circuit television recordings, and other sources provides no support for the allegation that there was any stand-down order. Rather, there were mere tactical disagreements about the speed with which the team should depart prior to securing additional security assets.
The 21-minute period between the time the Annex personnel first learned of the attack and when they departed reflects the time the Team needed to put on gear and the time during which the Chief of Base in Benghazi tried to secure local militias to assist in the mission. Annex leadership also considered the impact of the departure of the security officers on the security of the Annex. The Annex had minimal security forces available for the 93 minutes that the team was gone, and there was neither a requirement nor an expectation for the CIA security personnel to defend the State Department’s facility in Benghazi. Nonetheless, some Annex team members wanted urgently to depart the Annex for the TMF to save their State Department colleagues. The Chief of Base in Benghazi, however, ordered the team to wait so that the seniors on the ground could ascertain the situation at the TMF and whether they could secure heavy weaponry support from local militias.
Based on all of the available evidence, the Committee concludes that the Annex team left in a timely and appropriate manner.”
Source: House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Report, Nov. 21, 2014
Source: Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Bipartisan Report, Jan. 15, 2014
Source: Accountability Review Board Report, Dec. 18, 2012
• The team responded to a call for help and almost certainly saved lives despite putting the Annex at increased risk and not being a part of the TMF’s formal security plan.
•The Annex team had necessary authority to depart for the TMF. Once prepared, officers engaged in a tactical discussion about the threat they faced at the TMF, and what weapons and external support to bring to TMF. During the discussion, there was a delay as the tactical situation was discussed, but HPSCI found no evidence that the team was ordered or directed to stand down."
Source: House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Republicans, Jan. 1, 2014