The truth about Benghazi


A gathering of very credible figures who spoke at or attended events in our area recently made it their mission to get out the truth of what really happened on Sept. 11, 2012 at the US Special Mission Compound (SMC) and the CIA Annex in Benghazi.

The events were the 9/11 Tribute presented by the First Coast Tea Party at the Salem Center, and 13 Hours Terror in Benghazi presented by the St Johns GOP at the World Golf Village Renaissance Hotel. Some of the speakers at the Salem Center included Admiral James “Ace” Lyons Ret. Commander-in-Chief US Pacific Fleet, and Senior Military Advisor to the United Nations, Rear Admiral Charles Kubic Ret., chief facilitator for Gaddafi surrender talks, and Michael J Del Rosso, Senior Fellow for Homeland and National Security the Center for Security Policy along with a couple of other speakers. The Speaker at the World Golf Village was Kris “Tanto” Paronto former Ranger 2nd Battalion, 75th Regiment now a GRS Operator (Global Response Staff). Tanto was one of the men who came from the Annex to defend the SMC; he helped fight off the terrorists to save over 20 of his fellow Diplomats, Agents, and Consultants. A number of other military, government and or contract personnel some of whom were aboard one of the vessel in the Mediterranean during the attack, or involved in the events in some way personally came to the events and provided some details that others were unable to provide due to being required to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

It appears the issues covered under the non-disclosure agreement cover matters that don’t actually affect National Security but are just put in place by the State Department to prevent embarrassment. I’m not sure just what was covered, but here are the facts without releasing anything harmful to our national security. In fact it would be harmful to our national security not to learn from the mistakes and missteps this Administration and State Dept. has made.

The Administration, and State Dept. have gone to great lengths to keep the full story from getting out. One thing they did was try to minimalize the importance of the facility in Benghazi by renaming it and trying to downplay its significance. When originally opened according to Tanto it was called Diplomatic Consulate, later downgraded to Temporary Consulate, and finally Special Mission Compound designating it as a less important facility.

Following the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and our attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan; Muammar Gaddafi turned to become an ally of the United States by fighting radical jihadists especially those affiliated with al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and al-Qaeda in Iraq, which evolved to become ISIS, and the Islamic State which branched off from ISIS. Don’t be fooled by his conversion to fight radical jihadists he wasn’t an ally because he suddenly decided he liked America. He was afraid he would be next, since his government had perpetrated terrorism against the US in the past, besides those groups he attacked were his natural enemies anyway; however we had already partnered with many of those same groups to overthrow Gaddafi.

Rear Admiral Kubic questions whether one of the reasons Obama elected to kill Gaddafi was due to the fact that Gaddafi targeted those groups, some of which Obama and his administration now seemed to be favoring following the Arab Spring. He may have a point in fact Obama did favor the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, when they executed a coup against Mubarak, a person whom had proven to be a friend to the US and Israel. Obama also threatened the current Egyptian Government after they arrested many Muslim Brotherhood members and their supporters who were guilty of crimes. Obama and the State Dept. partnered with some of those same radical groups to overthrow the Libyan Government giving them weapons money and treating them like allies.

As soon as the bombing began a Libyan Military Official got word to Rear Admiral Kubic that Gaddafi was willing to step down. He said he would surrender to Military Officials not a Diplomat, and wanted to discuss the transition. Kubic forwarded that offer to General Ham, Commander of US Africa Command (AFRICOM). Direct military to military contacts were set up, but Gaddafi’s offer was not accepted by us. Later Gaddafi sent a different Military Officer to request a 72 hour cease fire, to see if terms for his removal could be negotiated. Kubic says Ham was glad to have a resolution at hand, but later stunned, when he was told to not communicate anymore with Gaddafi.

The end result turned out that Gaddafi was killed on Oct. 20, 2011 by the radical groups, and a smooth transition with a stable government did not occur. Libya has been in a state of civil war since that time. Conditions on the ground in Benghazi and all over Libya are often being controlled by the same radical Jihadist that were once kept down by Gaddafi. These radicals are the people responsible for the assault on our Special Mission Compound (SMC) and Annex.

Why did we even have an Annex and the SMC in Benghazi anyway? The Special Mission Complex was set up for the purpose of buying weapons back from various groups that we gave weapons to so that they could overthrow Gaddafi, as well as trying to buy some of the huge Libyan arsenal that those groups had captured during the fight. The weapons bought were then sent to the Syrian rebels trying to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. Many of those weapons have now been captured by ISIS again or bombed by Russian aircraft.

We hired two groups to guard our SMC. One group was The Blue Mountain Group, made up of former Libyan militants and is a firm the State Department acknowledges is affiliated with Britain. The other was the February 17 Martyrs Brigade, which ironically derives its name from Feb. 17 2006, when thousands of Islamists stormed the Italian Consulate in Benghazi because the minister had the nerve to suggest that free speech should prevail when protests erupted over a t-shirt with a picture of Muhammad on it.

Kris Paronto (Tanto), who was on the ground fighting; believes that some of the guards hired actually participated in the assault against the SMC and the Annex. One thing is certain when the assault started most of the guards from both groups ran for cover and did not help defend the SMC. This was not the first time they failed to do what they were supposed to do. An incident occurred previously at a roadblock, which one of the radical groups set up, where they attempted to rob Annex personnel. The CIA station chief radioed Feb 17 Martyrs Brigade for help, but they never showed up. The soon to be released movie based on 13 hours in Benghazi covers how this turned out.

The radical groups we had partnered with to overthrow Gaddafi, and who didn’t like us anyway now had many new recruits, weapons and money and they turned those weapons against us on September 11, 2012. They amassed a large force outside the SMC gate and walls; so Ambassador Stevens contacted the Annex and the State Dept. for help. He was used to not getting help from the State Dept. He had previously asked for help many times when threats were realized, but no help was ever authorized by the State Dept. He was told he had enough security from the Feb 17th Martyrs Brigade, and Blue Mountain Group. Staff at the SMC wanted Americans, who were trained for that type of work, and were not comfortable entrusting it to a group of Islamic radicals. The only Americans provided for security at the SMC; other than the GRS at the Annex where the Diplomatic Special Security Agents (DSS), which fluctuated from 4 to 6 personnel.

Four to six DSS agents were not enough for this Benghazi Special Mission, which was about to be attacked as prior events revealed. Ambassador Stevens was aware that on April 6th an IED was thrown over the fence at the compound, another IED left at the gate on June 11, gun battles occurred near the SMC, threats and attacks on guards, and foreign service officers had occurred, and grenades fired at the Red Cross Outlet on two separate occasions. He was aware that a threat was made against him personally and photos of him making his morning run were posted online. An RPG is fired at the British Ambassador’s convoy, and SMC guards are told by their families to quit their jobs, because an attack is coming soon. Stevens numerous request for more security and his report of those incidents, as well as others resulted in no help from Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. What was she thinking? Why did she deny adequate security for a mission that clearly needed it?

The assault begins and can be heard at the Annex. GRS operators go to the roof and realize that the attack is occurring at the SMC, and notify the CIA station chief. He tells them he is aware it is going on, since Stevens had already called him, and a call has been put out to Blue Mountain Group, and Feb 17 Martyrs Brigade for help, so don’t do anything they will take care of it.

The GRS Operators are emphatic and tell the Station Chief they want to respond, those are our people over there and they need us. They are told to stand down. The attack continues GRS asks again to be allowed to respond, and are told by the Station Chief I have clear orders from Washington to stand down. The radio is full of calls from people at the SMC and the message is the same help we need help they are setting the buildings on fire; we are all going to die if we don’t get some help.

After asking the third time to be allowed to respond Admiral Lyons colorfully puts it best “they gave him the official one finger salute got into their vehicles and went to defend their brothers anyway.” Tanto, who was there and one of the GRS Operators going to fight off the assault, said ‘we didn’t give a one finger salute, but we did use a hand gesture like a chopping knife, which means we are deadly serious, and before the 6 of us left I did grab one of the translators to take with us.”

Fifty minutes had already elapsed, and it took another 45 minutes to fight through the road blocks, scale the wall, and fight to cross the compound grounds before getting into the building. Calls from inside the building kept coming. Africom had been notified as well as the State Dept. The GRS searched the mission crawling on the ground, because of all the smoke, as they went through rooms searching for the Ambassador. They found Sean Smith, Communications Expert dead. Shawn was with the Ambassador during the assault. After a lengthy search, and tough firefight the GRS returned to the Annex in order to work on finding the Ambassador.

General Ham had a Delta Team in Tunisia which could have been on scene quickly. There were more Deltas, and a 300 man Marine Brigade in Sigonella Italy, as well significant air support available that could be there in time to help, and fast response teams aboard vessels in the Mediterranean. Two AC 130 Spectre gunships where also in the area with one already in the air on a training mission when the attack started. General Ham kept requesting permission to deploy the Delta Team, but was told by the Pentagon that they had orders not to engage. Ham said he was going to send help anyway, and within 2 minutes his subordinates were instructed to arrest him.

After much fighting, shredding of classified materials, abandonment of our facilities, and the Deaths of four brave men, Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, GRS Operators and former Navy Seals Glen Doherty and Tyrone Wood things are much the way they were in Benghazi before we set up our gun buy-back program. But look on the bright side, since we changed the name from consulate to special mission, and since we didn’t draw attention to it by sending a sufficient security force, or assistance after the attack started perhaps Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and Commander in Chief Barack Obama can keep people from finding out how incredibly inept they are, and willing to sacrifice the lives of other for their own ambitions.