What follows is a summary of the new e-book “Benghazi: The Definitive Report” by Jack Murphy, Brandon Webb and the editors of SOFREP.com, a Special Forces news site. Although it does not explore in depth the politics surrounding Benghazi, it is easily the best account yet of what happened on the ground.
Ambassador Chris Stevens arrived in Benghazi on Sept. 10, 2012, unaware that President Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, had been “running his own private war” against Libyan jihadists and that they were preparing to strike back.
Sean Smith, the Foreign Service IT guy who accompanied Stevens, got a whiff of the danger ahead, posting the following online after noon, Sept. 11, Libyan time: “assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures.”
Smith’s concerns proved real just after 9 p.m. (3 p.m. Washington time) when a rocket-propelled grenade smashed against the front gate of the makeshift State Department compound signaling a coordinated attack. Just to be clear, there was no prior protest at all.
The locally hired compound security fled immediately. This left seven Americans in the compound, Stevens, Smith and five Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agents.
One DSS agent secured Stevens and Smith in a protected room in the ambassador’s villa, two manned the tactical operations center (TOC), and two others barricaded themselves in the DSS villa. Stevens and the others immediately alerted their chain of command that they were in jeopardy. There was no lack of communication to the outside world.
Major trouble descended on Stevens and Smith in a hurry. Attackers swarmed their villa and, unable to penetrate their room, set the building on fire. The DSS agent broke out an opening, but Stevens and Smith got lost in the smoke and could not follow. They would both die of smoke inhalation.
A mile or so away, staff at the fortified CIA annex got the call for help. Stationed there was Ty Woods, a 20-year Navy SEALs veteran and a 10-year veteran of the CIA’s paramilitary Global Response Staff (GRS).
Woods overrode the objections of the CIA chief of base and promptly organized a seven-man GRS rescue team. They loaded up two Toyota Land Cruisers and drove to the State Department compound, arriving within a half-hour of the initial attack.
Instead of driving into the melee, Woods had his team park discreetly outside, use the vehicles to scale the walls, and set up an L-shaped ambush on the top of the wall.
Unlike the DSS agents, Woods’ crew was prepared to “unleash hell” on the attackers. They had one MK46 machine gun among them and individual H&K 416s complemented with GLMs – H&K 40mm grenade launchers. They quickly routed the enemy, killing scores of them.
Woods’ team established enough temporary security to round up the DSS agents and send them back to the CIA annex. They also located Smith, unconscious but not yet dead in the building still ablaze.
As the enemy reorganized, Woods’ crew came under withering fire and had to retreat to the vehicles before they could locate Stevens’ body. They headed back to the CIA annex with all the living safe and accounted for.
Meanwhile, in Tripoli, 13 hours away by car, Woods’ old Navy SEAL friend Glen Doherty and six colleagues, most of them CIA, commandeered a jet to join the fray.
In Benghazi, the Libyan militias reorganized outside the CIA annex and launched an attack there shortly after midnight. The GRS and DSS agents, along with reliable local security, held the attackers off until daybreak.
At 5 a.m. Doherty and his crew reached the CIA annex in Benghazi. They quickly took up defensive positions and helped the agents in place fend off a new wave of attackers trying to scale the wall.
When the heat subsided, Doherty sought out Woods, who was manning the MK46 machine gun on the rooftop of the annex building. There, they embraced like brothers and resumed the fight until a couple of well-aimed French 81 mm mortars killed them both.
One of the fighters who accompanied Doherty was communicating through a ROVER handheld device with an unarmed Predator overhead. The picture on the ROVER convinced the CIA chief that a large enemy element was assembling outside the annex, and if they did not evacuate immediately, they might not ever get out.
Thanks in large part to the unprompted heroism of Woods and Doherty, the CIA was able to save the State Department personnel and their own staff, perhaps 30 Americans in all, and get them out of Benghazi alive.
The Navy SEAL friends of Woods and Doherty, one of whom has been my contact, are in the process of producing a film to memorialize their valor. They invite anyone who would like to contribute to this project to visit the “Siege of Benghazi” site at Kickstarter.
As to the fate of Ambassador Chris Stevens, a call came in at 2 a.m. that same morning that his body was at the Benghazi Medical Center. After some bargaining with the locals, his body was released and flown out of Benghazi later that morning.
The authors, Murphy and Webb, offer no information on how Stevens’ body got to the hospital and what, if anything, happened to it en route.
The authors, although scrupulously apolitical, do offer a harsh assessment on how the Benghazi tragedy came to be. They argue that the attention on the YouTube video, consulate security and presidential response are, to a degree, “red herrings” that play into Obama’s hand.
“The truth,” they insist, “paints a far grimmer picture.” The real story, as they authors see it, concerns the “secret weapons transfers from Libya to Syria” and Brennan’s uncoordinated, “off the books,” private war. As my contact confirms, “This administration is full of complicit fools.”
The authors paint Brennan as the “Oliver North” of this adventure and must wonder, as I do, why today’s major media have so little interest in a phenomenon with the news value of an Iran-Contra.