Media critic

Fourteenth in a series about Fox News’s Oct. 26 story on Benghazi, Libya.

The most explosive allegation leveled in the infamous Oct. 26 Fox News story on Benghazi was that the chain of command of the CIA instructed its security personnel to “stand down” instead of rushing into action to defend Americans at a besieged U.S. diplomatic compound. The CIA rebutted that claim with a direct statement:

“We can say with confidence that the Agency reacted quickly to aid our colleagues during that terrible evening in Benghazi. Moreover, no one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate. In fact, it is important to remember how many lives were saved by courageous Americans who put their own safety at risk that night — and that some of those selfless Americans gave their lives in the effort to rescue their comrades.”

That CIA response, however, didn’t address a related claim made in the Fox News account — namely, that the intelligence agency’s chain of command “denied” an “urgent request” to call in military backup during the hostilities.

That contention by Fox News got some backup of its own this morning, as the Daily Beast’s Eli Lake reported that the CIA “never requested Europe-based special operations teams, specialized Marine platoons, or armed drones on the night of the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi.” Lake attributed the report to a senior U.S. intelligence official.

None of that is to say that the CIA security operatives under attack from armed Libyans didn’t receive support from the military. It got a reconnaissance drone plus medevac support, and a military team was dispatched from Tripoli. Here’s a statement from a senior intelligence official: “The US military’s support was essential and much appreciated. It provided overhead ISR, tactical support sent to the scene from Tripoli, and MEDEVAC.”

The CIA declines to comment on the mechanics of securing that military support. Did it issue a request? Or did personnel from other agencies issue the request?

As senior Defense officials made clear last week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta issued orders to prepare all manner of special units based in Europe to come to the assistance of the CIA personnel defending the Benghazi annex and diplomatic mission. “The CIA, however, requested none of that assistance,” writes Lake.

Lake’s piece, accordingly, squares with Fox News’s reporting that the CIA didn’t issue a request for heavy military backup. It renders no judgment on whether the CIA denied a request from its own annex to do so, as alleged by Fox News.

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?

Sixth: CIA no-comments new blast from Fox News

Seventh: Why exclude Fox News from intelligence briefing?

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

Twelfth: What about those alleged Benghazi prisoners?

Thirteenth: Why didn’t Fox News ask the president about its own Benghazi reporting?