TEL AVIV – None of the security officers inside the U.S. compound were armed during the Sept. 11, 2012, attack and one was barefoot while another two were “riding around in a Land Cruiser,” according to the witness testimony given to a U.S. House panel.
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., chairman of the House Intelligence Subcommittee, disclosed the details in an interview with Fox News earlier this week.
Unreported by Fox News is that the witness testimony of unarmed personnel directly contradicts the narrative in the extensive report released by the State Department-sponsored Accountability Review Board, or ARB.
The ARB report states the personnel inside the compound were armed and even describes how the security officers retrieved their weapons.
If the witness testimony of unarmed security officers is accurate, it would mean the ARB details are fabricated.
On Tuesday, Westmoreland told “The Kelly File” on Fox News that “none” of the security officers were armed.
“What’s interesting is that when we heard this testimony that when they arrived at the facility, that none of the RSOs or the regional security officers that were there were armed,” the congressman said. “In fact, one of ‘em was barefoot. We had one individual testify that he saw two of them riding around in a Land Cruiser.
“And so, you know, none of them had a weapon,” Westmoreland continued. “As far as they know, no shots were fired. And so, I mean, that is completely inadequate especially in Libya at the time of September the 11th.”
Westmoreland was commenting on closed-door testimony given to his intelligence committee.
It was the second time in recent days the politician made such comments.
Last week, Westmoreland 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.”
In contrast, the extensive ARB report specifically states personnel inside the mission protecting the compound and Ambassador Christopher 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,” the report states.
“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,” the report says.
“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.