Bret Baier presented 13 Hours in Benghazi Thursday evening.
It was a masterful exposition of the situation on the ground during that long, infamous night of September 11, 2012. But even more importantly, we got to meet the men, and their families, representing those who selflessly put their lives on the line to save dozens of their brethren.
Finally, two years later, we know exactly who these heroes are, where they were, and what they were doing the night of the Benghazi attack. We still have no idea where the United States was — or the President, for that matter — in their defense, that terrible night.
The three who lived to tell the story: Mark (Oz) Geist, Kris (Tanto) Paronto, and John (Tig) Tiegen.
Be forewarned: it’s harrowing, and it’s heartbreaking. But it must be heard. Benghazi is not a scandal – it’s a tragedy of personal heroism and institutional cowardice.
When the Benghazi consulate was attacked, these men literally ran into the fire. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, author of the Libya intervention, ran away as fast as she could, along with Obama who had an election to win.
Oh, sure, there were excuses given as to why the cavalry never came that entire night. It turned out that the cavalry was never even sent.
Afterward, the administration tried to cover up the fact that this was a terrorist attack, infamously blaming a little-known video for triggering a riot, even to the point of arresting its producer and apologizing for it on Pakistani TV. It’s clear from 13 Hours that the video canard was a flat-out lie.
The fact remains that our heroes were denied three times.
First, the United States left the consulate undefended, despite the fact that everyone knew it was in imminent danger.
Bret: “Was it [the consulate] well-protected?”
Tanto: “No. It looked nice. It was a beautiful compound” … “They were their own security.”
Tig: “There’s only five guys to protect him [Ambassador Stevens] . It’s a huge compound.”
Tanto: “Me in my bluntness, I said if you guys get attacked, you guys are gonna die. You know that, right? If you ever need us, you just call us. We’ll come get ya.”
The threat was clear on the ground, in advance, to anyone who wanted to see it. Tanto knew the risk, he gave his word to help them, and help them he did when the need arose, along with the whole team.
I would like to stop right here for a second to tell Hillary Clinton straight out – THIS is the definition of honor.
Second, the United States refused to protect the consulate while it was under attack:
Tanto : “Bob [the Station Chief] looks right through me, and he looks at the Team Leader and he goes ‘you guys need to wait’.”
Tig: “We need to get right over; we’re losing the initiative. Bob just looked straight at me and said ‘Stand down. You need to wait’.”
Tanto: “We were never given the OK to go.”
Bret: “If I gave you the 30 minutes back, and I gave you some air power, would Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith be alive today?”
The Team: Yes.
At this point, the Obama administration denies issuing a “stand down” order. The New York Times reports on this long enough to say that if there was a stand down order, it was from the CIA Station Chief, rather than from Clinton or Obama. Maybe Trey Gowdy’s investigation will clear this up.
There is, however, no evidence the United States actually moved to defend the consulate.
Third, the United States did nothing to help the CIA Annex, either to prevent the attack upon it, or to defend the Annex during it:
Tanto: “Team Leader came across the radio and said ‘Checking on it.’ That’s the last time that I got an actual answer if we were gonna get any support or not.”
Tig: “I was expecting some kind of air support; even if it was a fly-over by a jet, or whatever.
Tanto: “Sometimes that’s all it takes. It gets the bad guys down.
Oz: “No doubt that would’a been nice.”
They fought off the first attack, alone, without casualty. It was a probe. They knew more was coming. There were two and a half hours, then another, larger attack. They also fought that one off.
At dawn, hours later, a seven-man team from Tripoli arrived, including Glen Doherty. Non-shooting personnel were evacuated.
Then came a third attack, six hours after the first.
Oz: “We were gonna stay there and hold the Alamo.” “Me and Rone were wondering, what’s taking so long, why aren’t we getting out of here.” “We better be ready for another attack, cause this is when it’s gonna come.”
Help never came. Oz and Dave were badly injured. Rone and Glen were killed. Too late.
Three times, denied. One gets the feeling that the United States just didn’t care about its own Benghazi mission. These men were left to die – not just these men, but dozens of others if not for them.
Since then, there has been nothing but lies, excuses, name-calling, obfuscation and stone-walling by the Obama administration and the State Department.
We still don’t know why Ambassador Stevens was there, why the Benghazi mission was left undefended, why the chain of command did not defend them, what actions were taken, what orders were given, who gave orders, and who refused to give orders.
But these men are telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; and they didn’t need to be put under oath to do it.
If only the same could be said for the Obama administration and the State Department. For Shame.
The book, 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi, by Mitchell Zuckoff, is now available on Amazon