Twentieth in a marathon series about Fox News’s Oct. 26 story on Benghazi, Libya.
The news that Fox News’s Jennifer Griffin laid before the public more than a year ago was explosive. It came on Oct. 26, 2012, not long before a presidential election. It brought seismic allegations to the set of facts that voters possessed in regard to the Sept. 12, 2012, attacks on the U.S. diplomatic installation in Benghazi, Libya.
Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command — who also told the CIA operators twice to “stand down” rather than help the ambassador’s team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.
Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was part of a small team who was at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When he and others heard the shots fired, they informed their higher-ups at the annex to tell them what they were hearing and requested permission to go to the consulate and help out. They were told to “stand down,” according to sources familiar with the exchange. Soon after, they were again told to “stand down.”
The CIA at the time issued a rare and emphatic denial of that allegation, saying that “no one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate.”
The Associated Press is now reporting that congressional testimony from CIA personnel and contractors “bolster” the agency’s denial. The situation on the ground that night was chaotic and unclear: A call to the CIA annex near the under-attack diplomatic compound came in at 9:40 p.m., and it took the security personnel about 25 minutes to move in.
The AP describes what appears to have happened in the intervening minutes, based on an interview with Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, chairman of a House subcommittee that heard the testimony:
Westmoreland said the CIA security contractors loaded into two vehicles, with weapons ready, the moment they heard the radio call for help from the diplomatic building. Some wanted to rush to the U.S. compound roughly a mile away, and their agitation grew as they heard increasing panic when the diplomats reported the militants were setting the compound on fire.
The CIA team leader and the CIA chief at the Benghazi annex told committee members that they were trying to gather Libyan allies and intelligence before racing into the fray, worried that they might be sending their security team into an ambush with little or no backup.
At least one of those security contractors, a former U.S. Army Ranger, was told to “wait” at least twice, and he argued with his security team leader, according to his testimony, related by Westmoreland. Westmoreland declined to share the names of the officers who testified because they are still CIA employees.
A critical discrepancy between Fox News’s Oct. 26 report and the AP’s scoop: In addition to presenting the imperative to wait for backup as “stand down” orders, Fox News reported that the security contractors “ignored those orders and made their way to the consulate which at that point was on fire.” The AP reports no such defiance: “When it became ‘clear that this additional support could not be rapidly obtained,’ the team moved toward the diplomatic compound,” reports the AP’s Kimberly Dozier.
At least Fox News has some company on this front: “60 Minutes” reported pretty much the same thing, though that story was later retracted.
The Erik Wemple Blog asked Fox News for a comment on the discrepancies and hasn’t yet heard back.
The Series So Far:
First: Media outlets fail to follow Fox News.
Second: Does Fox story stand up to government timeline?
Third: Geraldo blasts story line that government didn’t try to protect personnel
Fourth: Fox contributor decries politicization of Benghazi
Fifth: Fox News’s “laser” allegation: For real?
Eighth: Fox News picks fight with State Department
Ninth: Fox getting excluded from briefings?
Tenth: Fox, Hannity and “real-time” video
Eleventh: Fox News invited to Benghazi briefing
Thirteenth: Why didn’t Fox News ask the president about its own Benghazi reporting?
Fourteenth: Fox News Benghazi report gets some backup
Fifteenth: Fox News mangled huge Benghazi story
Sixteenth: State Department report casts doubt on Fox News scoop
Seventeenth: Report from House Republicans challenges Fox News scoop.
Eighteenth: Fox News: What happened to its Benghazi exclusive?
Nineteenth: Fox News, Benghazi and ‘stand down’ orders.