The book, “13 Hours: What Really Happened in Benghazi,“ now a “major motion picture” and DVD, has gone viral with Trump’s base. Trump hired the two CIA-agent heroes of 13 Hours for his main act on Day-1 of his convention. You might think the book involves Rambo-style heroes fighting off evil attackers despite a spineless government official who tries to hold them back. You’d be right on target.
You might think that spineless official was Hillary Clinton—especially when CIA agent Geist, standing on Trump’s stage, wraps up their performance with this:
The Trump Lie: “Had she done her job that night, [dramatic pause] had she done her job that night, … Ty, Glen, Sean, and Ambassador Stevens would be alive today.” — Spoken by Geist
You would be dead wrong.
A Clinton supporter asked me how to answer the charge that “Clinton lied; People died,” a popular right-wing meme. I had no idea, but perhaps like you, I was worried.
So I read a few news articles. They spoke vaguely of a “stand-down” order. So I started reading the 850-page Republican Benghazi report. That made two things clear, (1) there was an order to delay the rescue, and (2) it was given by a CIA “base chief.” Not by Clinton.
The spineless official of “13 Hours” was CIA Bob
Mystified, I decided I had better read the book. What I found shocked me. The book is quite honest, and this is its story:
- The “Quick Reaction Force” and its CIA agents were charged with protecting Ambassador Stevens in an emergency.
- They were kept on a CIA base (the Annex) less than a mile away.
- When the State Dept Mission was attacked, they were ready to go within seven minutes.
- CIA base-chief “Bob” ordered them to wait, and wait … and wait.
- After waiting 25 minutes, the CIA Force cursed him and left.
- By then, Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith were dead.
Although this info is easily available from the book and the Republican Report, I cannot find these essentials reported coherently in the press. When they come close (e.g. Politifact) they get lost in the Republican diversion of the exact meaning of “stand down.”
What are they thinking!?
So how the hell does this story morph into “She lied; people died” and “Lock her up”? Clinton’s State Dept was never in charge of the CIA. The State Dept knew nothing of Bob’s nefarious actions. It was CIA Bob that let Stevens die. That’s the whole point of the book.
Time magazine provides the crucial clue to this crazy right-wing switcheroo. It explains that Bob is the movie’s “Hillary stand-in.” That’s crazy, but this is how the right-wing thinks about it: “Bob was a government bureaucrat. Clinton was an evil higher-ranking bureaucrat. So she must have been pulling his strings and responsible for Bob’s nefarious actions. So, really, she killed Stevens.” People will believe anything.
(Notable, Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the Republican Select Committee on Benghazi does not believe Trump’s lie.)
What can we do?
That’s basing a murder charge on the fact the Clinton worked for the same government as did CIA Bob. Never mind that Bob was not under her and was charged with protecting her people. Never mind that he let one of her most loved ambassadors die—according to his own men.
This is why I tell the story below using quotes from 13 Hours and the Republican Benghazi Report, so that you can know for sure just how outrageous Trump’s lie really is. And I’m hoping you will share this with at least a few friends. Hillary deserves our protection, especially since if she tells this story herself she will just be accused (falsely) of “blaming others.”
Trump depends on his base to spread these lies. And we must have the courage to speak truth to those lies. Or the lies will triumph.
Here are the most telling quotes
Geist’s accusation (above) is contradicted even by Tiegen’s opening claim at the convention as well as by the central point of the book and movie.
Tiegen’s opening claim: “On three separate occasions, we got told to wait by the Chief of Base, Bob. And we got told to stand down.” (Watch it.)
In the book after Bob says to stand down while they come up with a plan, Tiegen replies, “It’s too fucking late to come up with a plan.”
As they wait, they can see the “orange flames rising from the compound” (the book, p.99) less than a mile away. Finally, they ignore Bob and just take off. But it’s too late. Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith are already dead. As the book says:
“Sean Smith wouldn’t be dead and Chris Stevens wouldn’t be missing, if only they [the Quick Reaction Force] had rushed to the Compound when they first jocked up.” —13 Hours, p. 223
“If Bob had let us leave the [CIA] Annex at the beginning, the ambassador and Sean would be alive.” —13 Hours, p. 292
The book shows that the CIA had promised a Quick Reaction Force to protect the State Dept in an emergency. Bob stopped them so he wouldn’t have to blow his CIA cover by saving American lives in public. The book is right. But Geist & Tiegen, just happened to “forget” to mention the CIA in their 22 minute talk at Trump’s convention.
Geist and Tiegen also “forget” that there was an attack on Bob’s CIA base, eight hours later, that killed two CIA agents and badly injured two others. They were pretty sure they would be wiped out, leaving a couple dozen Americans dead, even though they now had extensive reinforcement. Luckily they were saved by a powerful Libyan militia that, two hours earlier, they didn’t even know existed. Such was Bob’s “intelligence” operation. Of course Clinton is blamed for this CIA fiasco as well.
All of the Republican complaints concerning delays in Spain, Germany etc. concern only the military and this later attack on the on the CIA base. They have nothing to do with Clinton and the State Dept.
A Brief History of the Benghazi Attacks
Who was where before the attack on 9/11, 2012 in Benghazi:
At the State Dept’s Mission compound:
- Ambassador Stevens and assistant Sean Smith
- Wickland and four other armed Diplomatic Security (DS) agents
At the CIA’s Annex: the CIA base a mile from the Mission compound
- Chief of base, “Bob,” and the Team Leader
- Six CIA operators hired from a private security firm
- Tiegen and Geist — Spoke at Convention
- Tanto, D.B., Jack, and Rone
What was happening at the Mission Compound:
[9:42pm Benghazi time:] Several dozen men, chanting in Arabic and firing AK-47s into the air, swarmed through the pedestrian entrance at the Compound’s main gate. … Who opened the gate wasn’t clear, but responsibility for the entrance rested with the Blue Mountain Libyan guards. … They had left the gate unlatched before. (p.157)
[more detailed version of this section]
[The DS agents let several dozen men waltz through the front gate after dark on 9/11, after a “high alert” due to an unexplained surveillance photographer and after the well-known attack that morning on the US embassy in Cairo. That would seem like a serious breach of responsibility by the five well-armed DS agents at the Mission, and not like a failure in Washington.]
[9:44pm] Henderson [the top DS agent] grabbed his iPhone and called the nearby CIA Annex. (p.86)
Meanwhile at the CIA Annex:
Geist and a female case officer … left the CIA Annex around 6:00 pm. They stopped at an Internet café for coffee, then drove by the beach on their way to their hosts’ upscale home. (p. 68) [As a consequence, Geist never made it to the Mission compound.]
[more detailed version of this section]
[9:49pm] Within five minutes of Alec Henderson’s first mayday call from the Compound, Tanto, D.B., Rone, Tiegen, and Jack were jocked up and assembled outside Building C [of the CIA Annex]. (p. 95).
[The Team Leader:] “We need to come up with a plan,” … They likely could have reached the Compound on foot in the time they’d been waiting. (p. 95)
Tiegen called out, “Hey, we gotta go now! We’re losing the initiative!” “No, stand down, you need to wait,” Bob the base chief yelled back. … “It’s too fucking late to come up with a plan,” Tiegen yelled. “We need to get in the fucking area and then come up with a plan.”
Tanto felt as though the chief was looking right through him. “No,” Bob said, “hold up. We’re going to have the local militia handle it.” …
“No,” the Team Leader said, “we need to wait. The chief [Bob] is trying to coordinate with 17 Feb and let them handle it.”
What do you mean, “Let them handle it?” Tanto demanded. …
“I’ve been through this before,” Tanto told the Team Leader, “when the chief didn’t let us go when our own guys were in trouble. Go ask Tyrone. He’s right over there. He was one of the guys out there when the chief said to have 17 Feb handle it and held us back.” “Tanto, I know,” the T.L. said. “I’m working on it.”
Tanto returned to the Mercedes SUV and told D.B.: “This is a bunch of fucking bullshit.” D.B. was incredulous. His head slumped forward in frustration. (p. 98)
From their idling vehicles, the operators could vaguely see the orange flames rising from the Compound. (p. 99)
The operators imagined bloody scenes of what was happening to their countrymen less than a mile away. And the longer they sat idle, the more likely the same fate awaited them. (p. 100)
The author explains why CIA Bob held back the Quick Reaction force:
If the operators’ Quick Reaction Force remained at the Annex, the CIA wouldn’t be forced to reveal or explain its presence in Benghazi. On the other hand, if American clandestine operators and contract security employees went into combat against radical Islamists, the battle would be guaranteed to attract global attention and massive scrutiny. Especially on September 11. During his previous trips to Benghazi, Tiegen had experienced multiple instances where Bob the base chief had told the operators to “stand down,” even when Americans were potentially in danger, apparently to avoid the risk of exposing the CIA presence. (pp. 110-111).
Base-chief Bob never did give permission. They just left anyway
“If you guys do not get here, we’re going to die!”
‘We need to go,’ Tanto told the Team Leader. It wasn’t a question. The four other operators felt the same. Tanto told the Team Leader: “Get in the fucking car.”
The Team Leader ended his phone call and got in. They still lacked clearance (p. 111). … “Informal notes” obtained from the CIA indicated that the security team left for the Compound without approval from the base chief, Bob. (p. 297).
[more detailed version of this section]
[10:14pm] Shortly after the two Quick Reaction Force vehicles left the Annex, a DS agent from the Compound came onto the radio again. … By then Scott Wickland had told his fellow DS agents Alec Henderson and David Ubben that Villa C was on fire and the ambassador and Sean Smith were missing. (pp. 118-119).
Previously, back at the Mission compound:
Wickland [Stevens’ DS “body man”] quickly rounded up Stevens and Sean Smith in the semi-darkened villa. Wickland locked all three of them behind the gate in the villa’s safe-haven area. (p. 87)
[more detailed version of this section]
[The attackers] hauled in the jerry cans of diesel fuel that they’d found near the Compound’s new generator. … The attackers doused diesel on the overstuffed chairs, pillows, and couches, drenched the Persian rugs, and … As the intruders left, they set the villa ablaze. (p. 104).
[We turn now to the June 28, 2016, Republican Benghazi Report, pages I-39 and I-40.]
[Wickland] attempted to lead them to the bathroom in the safe haven. Once in the bathroom he realized Stevens and Smith had not followed him. Due to the thick toxic smoke, he was unable to see them and did not hear a response from them when he called out. [He] became weak and overcome with smoke and heat. … After catching his breath, over and over again he crawled back through the bedroom window of Villa C to search for Stevens and Smith.”
Wickland: “The last time I went out, you know, I decided that if I went back into the building that I wasn’t going to come back out. … so I climbed up the ladder, and pulled up the ladder behind me and that’s the moment that I knew the Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith were probably dead.” [Later, it turned out that they had found no safe haven from the deadly fumes.]
At 10:14pm he [Wickland] reported to the agent located in the Tactical Operations Center that Stevens and Smith were missing and unaccounted for. (page I-40) [This confirms the 10:14pm time above and prove the delays was 25 minutes.]
The “Quick” Reaction Force arrives at the State Dept Mission
[With the main facts now established, from here on I will no longer be quoting sources except when I indicate this with quote marks and page numbers.]
[more detailed version of the remaining history]
A few minutes after leaving the Annex, the Rapid Reaction Force met the (friendly) 17 February militia at an intersection 400 yards (about a quarter mile) from the front gate of the Mission. … Several Libyan militiamen were injured by gunfire and one by a grenade. No CIA operators or DS agents were injured by the attackers. By the time the CIA entered the compound no attackers were present.
All head back to the CIA Annex
All of the Americans left for the CIA base by about 11:30.
Before 12:45 the CIA Annex was attacked, but they won that fight handily within 10 minutes.
“Tanto thought back to the amount of time they’d lost at the beginning of the battle, waiting for the OK to respond to the Compound. His anger at Bob the Annex chief flared. “Why did he keep telling us to stand down?” Tanto asked rhetorically, then launched into a profanity-laced attack on Bob. He added sarcastically: ‘He’s probably trying to get 17 Feb to come save us right now, too.’ D.B. felt the same way. He believed that Sean Smith wouldn’t be dead and Chris Stevens wouldn’t be missing, if only they’d rushed to the Compound when they first jocked up.” (p. 223).
Reinforcements and then mortars at the CIA Annex
At 5:05 a.m., reinforcements from Tripoli arrived at Annex (I-131). Now that CIA base which normally had only six CIA operators defending it, has 10 such operators and seven State Dept security agents.
The Annex was attacked by mortars at about 5:30 a.m. … The third of five mortars killed Rone. The fourth killed Glen, a CIA operator from Tripoli, and badly broke Geist’s left arm. The fifth tore him up with shrapnel. Dave Ubben, a Benghazi DS agent, was also badly injured.
“We decided that the situation we had was untenable to stay at the compound. We didn’t have enough shooters and there were too many wounded.” (I-143)
“Officer A” calls in a rescue
Unknown to the CIA operators a mysterious CIA “Officer A” at the Annex had “spent a lot of time that night trying to secure help.” … “After some convincing by Officer A (I-145),” the police officer referred him to a colonel in “Libyan Military Intelligence.” He had never before spoken to this individual, nor was he even aware of Libyan Military Intelligence. [It was then 4:30 am.]
At 6:16, not long after the devastating mortar attack, 50 heavily-armed security vehicles arrived at the Annex prepared to provide protection. … The “extraordinary efforts of Officer A” and the Libyan Military Intelligence likely saved “over two dozen” American lives (I-144).
Knowing nothing of the largest, most organized military force in town is not a sign of competent “intelligence” work.
And on 9/11, after a warning, riots at the Egyptian embassy, and a spy photographing the State Dept Mission, the CIA sent one of their six-man Quick Reaction Force (Geist) far off base for a four-plus-hour-long lark and dinner engagement.
But the book and movie are right. The worst offense was holding back the Quick Reaction Force for 25 minutes. Bob let Smith and Stevens die to avoid blowing his CIA cover. That’s the story of 13 Hours. And it certainly seems to be true.
To sell Trump’s lie, Tiegen and Geist just omit one little detail in their 22-minute talk — the CIA. They never mention it.
Without the CIA in the picture, they can imply a different backstory: Hillary was the evil puppet-master controlling this fiasco. What nonsense. Let me state the conclusion most simply.
Geist and Tiegen were CIA. Bob was CIA. On a CIA base. With no State Dept people.
The whole purpose of the “Quick Reaction Force” was to protect the State Dept Mission, that was less than a mile away.
The Clinton’s State Department was never in charge of the CIA.
Had CIA Bob done his job that night, Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith would be alive today — and that’s according to everyone in the Quick Reaction Force that’s still alive.
Over the negative din of politics, it can be hard to hear what's positive. Hillary Clinton has given $17.6 million of her speaking fees to charity (see below). That's 26 times what she made on her 3 Goldman-Sachs speeches, or 50% more than she made on her 51 speeches in 2014 and 2015. First, let me summarize.
2. Over 100 lesser-known people are in the $200,000+ category.