CIA Benghazi Team Clash Led to ‘Stand Down’ Report

Photo Credit: AP

Photo Credit: AP

CIA officers who testified privately to Congress about the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, revealed a disagreement among them about how quickly they could go help the besieged U.S. ambassador and others as well as a standing order for them to avoid violent encounters, according to a congressman and others who heard or were briefed on the testimony.

Complaints that the White House, Pentagon and State Department may not have done enough before and during the attack to save U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other men, along with accusations that it engaged in a cover-up after the attack, have continued to dog the Obama administration. One of the allegations was that U.S. officials told the CIA to “stand down” and not go to the aid of the embattled Americans — charges that top CIA and Defense and State Department officials have denied.

The testimony from the CIA officers and contractors who were in Libya that night bolster those denials but also shed light on what may have led to the delay of less than 30 minutes. None of those who testified said that a quicker response would have saved the lives of Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glenn Doherty.

The CIA officers in charge in Libya that day told Congress of a chaotic scramble to aid Stevens and others who were in the outpost when it was attacked by militants on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. Those CIA leaders decided they and the security contractors working for them should wait before rushing from their annex into the violence roughly a mile away. They testified that they were trying to first gather intelligence and to round up Libyan militia allies armed with heavy weapons, according to the testimony by the CIA officers in charge, including both the head of the CIA security team and the CIA chief of the Benghazi base.

Some of the CIA security contractors, however, disagreed with their bosses and wanted to move more quickly.

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