State Depart­ment guards didn’t fire one shot

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

Armed State Depart­ment se­cu­rity agents re­treated rather than fired on ter­ror­ists who were in­vad­ing the U.S. diplo­matic mis­sion in Beng­hazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased Wed­nes­day by the Se­nate Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence.

The Se­nate re­port says that as Is­lamist mil­i­tants broke through the com­pound’s gate and be­gan set­ting build­ings on fire, diplo­matic se­cu­rity agents re­trieved their M4 car­bine as­sault ri­fles. The agents then moved to­ward Build­ing C to pro­tect U.S. Am­bas­sador J. Christo­pher Stevens, who had holed up in­side.

“They en­coun­tered armed at­tack­ers and de­cided to re­turn to Build­ing B to take cover rather than open fire,” the 85-page re­port says. “They even­tu­ally re­grouped, made their way to a nearby ar­mored ve­hi­cle, and then drove over to as­sist [an] agent on the roof of build­ing C search­ing for the am­bas­sador.”

“The DS agents did not fire a sin­gle shot that night dur­ing the at­tack on the Tem­po­rary Mis­sion Fa­cil­ity,” the re­port states.

Dou­glas Frantz, the State Depart­ment’s as­sis­tant sec­re­tary for pub­lic af­fairs, said the agents fol­lowed pro­to­col.

“We’re con­cerned by the per­cep­tion the DS agents were not do­ing their job, when in fact at great risk they tried to save Am­bas­sador Stevens and Sean Smith,” Mr. Frantz said. “They tried to go back into the build­ing to find them in the smoke. The DS agents were grossly out­num­bered at that point and they are trained not to make th­ese sit­u­a­tions worse. The think­ing was, if they went in there guns ablaze, they would sim­ply draw fire on them­selves and re­duce any chance they had of find­ing Sean Smith and Chris Stevens alive in­side the build­ing.”

Told that the Se­nate re­port notes that no DS agent fired a shot dur­ing the at­tack, Mr. Frantz said, “I read the re­port very care­fully. And I saw that. They are trained not to fire a shot un­less they feel it can be ef­fec­tive.”

Later, a res­cue team from a nearby CIA an­nex that in­cluded ex-mil­i­tary per­son­nel ar­rived and fired on at­tack­ers as they col­lected sur­vivors and searched for Stevens.

Libyans later found that Stevens had suc­cumbed to smoke in­hala­tion in Build­ing C. He was pro­nounced dead at a hos­pi­tal.

That the State Depart­ment’s wellarmed per­son­nel never fired a shot that night adds another wrin­kle to the Beng­hazi chronol­ogy.

The depart­ment’s ac­count­abil­ity re­view board, in its re­port, por­trayed the diplo­matic se­cu­rity agents as hope­lessly out­num­bered. It re­ferred to the agents as “ARSO” (as­sis­tant re­gional se­cu­rity of­fi­cer) and build­ings as “Vil­las.”

“At Villa B, ARSO 3 en­coun­tered ARSO 4, who was also arm­ing and equip­ping him­self, and the two then at­tempted to re­turn to Villa C,” the ac­count­abil­ity re­view board re­port said. “They turned back, how­ever, af­ter see­ing many armed in­trud­ers block­ing the al­ley be­tween Vil­las B and C. ARSOs 3 and 4, out­num­bered and out­gunned by the armed in­trud­ers in the al­ley, re­turned to Villa B and bar­ri­caded them­selves in a back room.”

Five diplo­matic se­cu­rity agents — State’s per­sonal army as­signed to pro­tect am­bas­sadors and other diplo­mats — were at the Beng­hazi com­pound that night. Three worked there; two oth­ers ar­rived with Stevens.

They were backed up by three mem­bers of the Libyan 17th Fe­bru­ary Brigade, three Libyan na­tional po­lice of­fi­cers and un­armed lo­cals hired by a Bri­tish se­cu­rity com­pany, Blue Moun­tain Group.

A few miles away at the CIA an­nex were six armed, for­mer mil­i­tary per­son­nel hired for se­cu­rity. Some of them left the an­nex in two ar­mored ve­hi­cles for the res­cue mis­sion about 25 min­utes af­ter the 9:40 p.m. at­tack.

Ac­cord­ing to the Se­nate re­port, a diplo­matic se­cu­rity agent had placed Stevens and State Depart­ment aide Sean Smith in a “safe area” in­side Build­ing C. Mil­i­tants used diesel fuel to set the build­ing on fire. The agent at­tempted to lead the men to­ward an es­cape win­dow. The agent crawled out.

“He then re­al­ized he had be­come sep­a­rated from the Am­bas­sador and Sean Smith in the smoke, so he reen­tered and searched the build­ing mul­ti­ple times,” the re­port says. “The DS agent, suf­fer­ing from se­vere smoke in­hala­tion, climbed a lad­der to the roof where he ra­dioed the other DS agents for as­sis­tance and at­tempted un­suc­cess­fully to ven­ti­late the build­ing by break­ing a sky­light.”

This agent was armed with an M4 car­bine but did not fire.

At some point early in the at­tack, other agents re­trieved their M4 as­sault ri­fles, which are ca­pa­ble of un­leash­ing a stream of 5.56-cal­iber au­to­matic fire. But as they ap­proached Build­ing C, they en­coun­tered armed mil­i­tants and “de­cided to re­turn to Build­ing B to take cover rather than open fire,” the Se­nate re­port says.

The Fe­bru­ary Brigade proved al­most use­less. The an­nex res­cue team asked brigade mem­bers to pro­vide cover fire so they could en­ter the com­pound, but the mili­tia re­fused. A few fol­lowed the ar­mored ve­hi­cles on foot into the com­plex.

The se­cu­rity team then en­gaged in a fire­fight and pushed back the at­tack­ers.

Af­ter search­ing in vain for Stevens, the res­cue team re­turned to the an­nex. It fought through a hail of gun­fire at one check­point, but all per­son­nel made it back at 11:30 p.m., only to en­dure a night of mil­i­tant at­tacks be­fore a res­cue team from the cap­i­tal, Tripoli, ar­rived.

Stevens and Smith, and for­mer Navy SEALs Glen Do­herty and Ty­rone Woods — both of whom bat­tled mil­i­tants at the

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