Testimony by Benghazi witnesses and victims stating personnel inside the U.S. special mission were not armed directly contradicts the State Department report on the Sept. 11, 2012, attack, WND has learned.
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., chairman of the House Intelligence Subcommittee, told Fox News that State Department employees inside the mission “were not armed, not kitted up and there hadn’t been any shots fired from our side as far as the testimony reveals.”
Westmoreland was commenting on closed-door testimony given to his intelligence committee.
In contrast, the extensive report released by the State Department-sponsored Accountability Review Board, or ARB, specifically states personnel inside the mission protecting the compound and Ambassador Chris Stevens were armed and had their security kits.
The ARB states all assistant regional security officers, or ARSOs, were armed during the attack.
Claims the ARB: “The ARSOs were each armed with their standard issue sidearm pistol; their kits, generally consisting of body armor, radio and an M4 rifle, were in their bedroom/sleeping areas, in accord with Special Mission practice.”
Page 20 of the ARB claims the officer who located Stevens was armed as well.
“ARSO 1 in Villa C swiftly located the Ambassador and IMO Smith, asked them to don body armor, and led them into the safe area in Villa C, which ARSO 1 secured.”
“He then reported their whereabouts by radio to the TDY RSO in the TOC. ARSO 1, armed with an M4 rifle, shotgun and pistol, took up a defensive position inside the Villa C safe area, with line of sight to the safe area gate and out of view of potential intruders.”
The ARB describes the process by which each security officer retrieved kits and guns.
“Following the SMC’s emergency plan, ARSO 1 entered Villa C to secure the Ambassador and IMO in the safe area and to retrieve his kit; ARSOs 2, 3, and 4 moved to retrieve their kits, which were located in Villa B and the TOC.
“From Villa C, ARSO 4 ran to his sleeping quarters in Villa B to retrieve his kit, while ARSOs 2 and 3 ran to the TOC, where ARSO 3 had last seen the Ambassador, and where ARSO 2’s kit was located. (ARSO 2’s sleeping quarters were in the TOC, making him the designated “TOC Officer” in their emergency react plan.)
“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. They turned back, however, after seeing many armed intruders blocking the alley between Villas B and C.”
The new account of unarmed State Department employees may help to explain why no officers reportedly fired any shots or even attempted to engage the intruders. Instead, the officers barricaded themselves in rooms.
The ARB claimed officers did not want to engage the intruders because they were outgunned and because they did not want to compromise their location.
States the ARB: “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, along with one LGF member whom they had encountered outside Villa B.
“ARSO 1 did not want to compromise their location in the safe area by engaging the intruders.”
With additional research by Joshua Klein.