, The Washington Post
A crew of surviving security operators on the front lines of the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, wasn’t happy with a Sept. 16 news conference of House Democrats complaining that key concerns about the U.S. response to the attacks have been “asked and answered.”
Elijah Cummings of Maryland, Adam Schiff of California and Adam Smith of Washington, among others, raised questions about the workings and aims of the select congressional committee on Benghazi. Also in the sights of the Democratic lawmakers was “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi,” a recently published book by Boston University journalism professor Mitchell Zuckoff and the security team that responded to the attacks both at the U.S. Benghazi diplomatic installation and a nearby CIA annex. Their efforts saved about 30 lives.
One of the key revelations of “13 Hours” was that three security operators — Mark “Oz” Geist, Kris “Tanto” Paronto and John “Tig” Tiegen — provided on-the-record attestation to a “stand-down” order that came down in the immediate aftermath of the attacks just after 9:30 p.m. that night. That matter has been a point of considerable controversy. In the news conference, Schiff issued some carefully considered words on the matter: “Some of these questions that have been repeatedly asked and answered were asked again in the wake of a campaign to promote a new book on the Benghazi attacks,” said Schiff. “Contrary to claims made in connection with the book, however, we found that our personnel acted properly in trying to secure local assistance and avoid ambush and we did not find evidence that a different course of action would have saved, rather than jeopardize, more lives. Both the House and Senate intelligence committees interviewed these three contractors, their supervisor and others on the ground and concluded that there was no improper stand-down order.”