What happened in Benghazi is an aggravation, ‘a craw in our side’, with many veterans still today. It is a sad story of Americans being abandoned by their nation, and it’s unfortunately been used by many politicians for political gain. Excuses were made to explain what happened and to somewhat justify it. Both Republicans and Democrats distort the facts during TV appearances and hearings. But the damage to those left behind – the families and survivors – seems forgotten, without explanation.
Many Americans don’t even understand what these men and women went through – they were living in hell for the thirteen hours preceding the final assault and the evacuation from the CIA annex. Many incorrectly think that the four Americans – Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty – died during the initial assault on the U.S. Diplomatic Compound. There was actually four separate attacks; the first attack on the compound and then three more on the CIA annex where everyone fled to after the first assault. Also, ten others were injured in these attacks. The compound was not an embassy, which means that it didn’t have the normal security detail or bunkering/protections that an American Embassy has. Only five diplomatic security special agents were in Benghazi at the time of the attack; two of them were there by chance, having traveled with Ambassador Stevens from Tripoli. One mile away, a CIA team at the annex was the quick reaction force for the compound, but no one was supposed to know that the CIA security team existed.
Ambassador Stevens was adored by many Libyans and had a great fondness for the country. He felt he could make a difference in the lives of those in Libya, and wanted to show the people that the United States stood behind them in establishing a new democracy. Eastern Libya, Benghazi in particular, was a key hub for intelligence operatives monitoring Ansar al-Sharia and members of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Along with Ambassador Stevens, Secretary of State Clinton also wanted a more permanent post in Benghazi.
There was quite a bit of instability in the region prior to the attacks of September 11, 2012. There was frequent IED-related violence. The International Red Cross office in Libya was attacked and there was an assassination attempt on Dominic Asquith, the British ambassador. Requests were made for more security, but according to the regional security officer, Eric Nordstrom, they were rebuffed. Nordstrom told media that, for him and his staff, “it was abundantly clear that [they] were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident.” Lt. Col Andrew Wood, U.S. site security commander in Libya, testified that a regional security officer had tried obtaining more personnel, but was never able to attain a level of security that he felt comfortable with. It was pretty well known within the American intelligence community during the months preceding the attack that Benghazi was unstable and increasingly dangerous – and that a significant attack was imminent.
Top U.S. officials reported the attack as if it had been a spontaneous protest created by an anti-Muslim video…yet there were no such protests immediately prior to the attacks. There was, however, every indication that everything was premeditated. The assault began at nightfall, by militants swathed in flak jackets with covered faces. They were armed with RPGs, hand grenades, AK-47s, mortars, and machine guns. With that level of artillery, it’s quite apparent that this was not a spontaneous protest.
But for some reason…that is what we were supposed to believe.
Ambassador Stevens and State Department information management officer, Sean Smith – an Air Force veteran, died during the initial assault on the compound. The Global Response Staff team, which included former SEAL Tyrone Woods, left the CIA annex approximately twenty minutes later as the Quick Reaction Force in order to aid and/or rescue everyone at the compound. The Quick Reaction Force evacuated everyone from the compound to the CIA annex where they began preparing for potential continuing assaults.
In the ensuing hours, attacks continued as they bunkered at the CIA annex waiting for reinforcements or rescue. Meanwhile another former Navy SEAL, Glen Doherty, and six other men (five CIA operatives and two volunteer Delta operators) gathered at the Tripoli Embassy preparing to mount a rescue – 406 miles away from Benghazi. Since this was not a planned evacuation or rescue attempt by U.S. leadership, they had to figure some way to get to Benghazi. They somehow garnered $30,000 and, with a little persuasion of a couple of Libyan military pilots, they got them to fly from the airport in Tripoli to Benghazi.
At the Benghazi airport, they met up with supportive Libyan troops who took the team of seven men to the CIA annex. Upon arrival, Glen Doherty met Tyrone Woods on the roof of the annex. Within minutes, mortars were fired and both were mortally wounded – two more Americans killed in Benghazi within hours. After this final assault, everyone remaining was transported to the Benghazi airport with the help of the same Libyan troops who assisted Glen Doherty and his team.
The whole incident is very disappointing to me, and something I will never forget. We, as Airmen, Soldiers, Marines and Sailors, exist under an oath stating that we will “never leave our brothers and sisters behind”… but these people were left to die. They were left alone – abandoned by the administration, Congress, and in a sense, by their country. Their families also seemed to be forgotten as they never received any explanation regarding this incident. The names of everyone else who had been in Benghazi were also quickly forgotten. It seemed as though many Americans heard enough and didn’t want the truth regardless of the facts…and still don’t. Overall, the incidents that day were incredibly tragic, and I will continue to hope that someday everyone will have the answers they need!
About the author: Scott Bernstein is the CEO of Global Security International LLC headquartered in the Research Triangle of North Carolina. He has extensive experience as a Counterterrorist Consultant, International Apprehension Operative, Human & Sex Trafficking Expert and a Military and Law Enforcement Trainer. He is available as a Consultant and as a Speaker. In addition to his LinkedIn profile, you can also interact with Scott on his LinkedIn group http://bit.ly/1LMp2hj.
Scott Bernstein is the founder and director of Global Security International (GSI). They implement unconventional techniques such as criminal profiling, victimology, behavioral Psychology, Neuro-Psychology, pre-text art and expert skip tracing. To reach GSI (Global Security International), reach them at 984-235-4816 or in writing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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