“13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi” is a new book by Mitchell Zuckoff which details the events which took place in the attack on our Libyan mission during the hours of darkness over September 11 and 12, 2012. In that attack, our ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were murdered by Muslim terrorists.
I have not read the book yet, but I have heard the account of the three CIA contractors that Zuckoff has based his book. Many of my friends have been frustrated because the Benghazi story has been suppressed by the Obama Administration and their allies in the press. All along, I have said ‘wait until the books are published by those whose voices have been muted.’ “13 Hours” is one of those books.
This account is very limited: it only covers the half day period between when the attack began at the consulate and when it concluded at the CIA annex a mile away. As I understand it, the book does not cover the security concerns leading up to the attack; the reason we stayed in this dangerous place when every other western mission had closed; and it does not cover the alleged ‘cover up’ after the attack. Rather, it is a first-hand account of the attack itself from the viewpoint of the American defenders.
Zuckoff bases his story on the accounts of five security contractors who were at the annex when the attack begins. Three of those five are named and have been subsequently interviewed by Fox News: John “Tig” Tiegen; Mark “Oz” Giest; and Kris “Tanto” Paranto. Each of the security contractors had military experience in Special Forces before being hired by Blackwater for overseas security duty.
When the calls for assistance came to the team from the consulate, the five security contractors and Tyrone “Rone” Woods immediately assembled an armed convoy to drive the mile distance and save the embattled State Department team. For the next half hour, they were told at least three times by the CIA station chief “Bob” to wait before proceeding. At the time, Bob was on the phone with someone, but the operators did not know who he was speaking to.
Finally, after repeated and frantic calls for help, the team went to the rescue, defying orders to continue waiting. They fought their way past attackers into the consulate compound and began to search for survivors amongst enemy fire and in buildings set afire. They rescued 25 personnel, many of them wounded, and recovered the body of information officer Sean Smith. They were unsuccessful in locating the body of Ambassador Stevens.
When they had done all that was possible at the consulate, they fought their way out, past the attackers and returned under heavy fire to the annex. Now the team went to fighting stations around the annex, preparing for subsequent attacks. They were soon joined by a small response team that had flown in from Tripoli which included former Navy SEAL Glen “G-Bub” Doherty.
Repeatedly, the defenders fought off attacks using their sniper rifles and automatic weapons. The final attack in the early morning hours of September 12 was accomplished using well aimed mortars, probably of the 82 mm variety. This attack on the roof of one building killed Rone and G-Bub and badly wounded Tig. These two dead brought the casualty toll to four along with the many wounded.
The surviving contractors provided two bombshells in their interviews. First, they firmly believe that if they had left when first organized and not been held up by Bob and whoever he was talking with, that Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith would be alive today. Second, if a responding aircraft such as an AC-130 Gunship or fighter been overhead, the attack on the annex would have been mitigated.
Some Administration officials such as State Department Spokesman Marie Harf have dismissed these accounts because the individuals did not see the ‘big picture,’ but I put a lot of credence into the stories of individuals who are on-scene, under fire. One thing I learned many years ago: when people are under stress in the thick of a fight, you defer to them for tactical decisions. Strategic decisions from headquarters in Italy, Germany or Washington are fine for what they are, but you always defer tactical decisions to the on-scene commander who has first-hand knowledge of conditions on the ground.
The account given by the special ops contractors to author Zuckoff is important. I plan to read the book for greater insight. I expect more of these accounts will follow. Together, they will paint a better picture of what happened in Benghazi two years ago than we know today or that the people in power would have us know.