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Fact Sheet - House Intelligence Committee’s Benghazi Report

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Washington, DC, December 4, 2014 | Susan Phalen | comments

Fact Sheet

House Intelligence Committee’s Benghazi Report

Certain press articles about the House Intelligence Committee’s Report on Benghazi do not accurately represent the Committee’s Report or take into account the full scope of the evidence the Committee received.  Statements by individual eyewitnesses, in particular former security contractors who were in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11-12, 2012, do not present the complete picture of what happened that night.  The Committee’s Report is based on the totality of the evidence it received and all the testimony of witnesses taken under oath and on the record.  The facts described in the Report comport with the findings of other committees in Congress, including the Senate Intelligence Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the House Armed Services Committee.  The Committee stands by its final bipartisan Report that was formally adopted by a voice vote of Committee members. 

·        The former security contractors who are telling their version of events in the media do not represent the totality of the two CIA rescue teams.  Some individuals remain unnamed.  Some security officers continue to serve the CIA in dangerous places around the world, and thus cannot disclose their testimony publicly. 

·        The totality of the evidence indicates that the CIA team departed for the State Department facility 21 minutes after first learning of the attack at 9:42 pm.  While Mr. Paronto testified that he believed the call came earlier, the totality of evidence, which includes other eyewitness testimony, FBI reports from the initial eyewitness interviews, time-stamped video footage, and CIA emails and cables, shows that the notification came at 9:42 pm. 

·        It was a tactical decision of the leadership on the ground to attempt to gather more information about the attack at the TMF before authorizing the team’s departure.  There is no evidence to suggest that, absent the delay, the team could have saved Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith.    

o   The CIA Security Chief led and participated in the rescue mission with the other officers.  The Team Leader’s presence in the car supports the conclusion that the security team did not depart without authorization or contrary to orders.

o   The Chief of Base and the CIA Security Chief were in charge and made sound decisions to let the team depart after gathering more facts and trying to raise additional and more heavily armed friendly militias to assist the team.

o   This was not a standard military rescue operation.  The CIA was not responsible for the security of the State Department Temporary Mission Facility, and the Chief of Base and CIA Security Chief had to consider other factors, including the safety of the remaining CIA personnel under their command at the Annex.

·        The Committee did not receive any evidence that individuals in Washington, Tripoli, or elsewhere influenced the decision of the Chief of Base or the CIA Security Chief about when and whether to allow the security team to head to the TMF.

·        The Report described information from testimony and briefings from Ambassador Kennedy and NCTC Director Olsen that the Diplomatic Security officer repeatedly entered the smoke-filled building to search for Ambassador Stevens.  Their testimony was based on available evidence, including time-stamped video footage.  The Committee did not interview the Department of State officer, but our report is consistent with reports from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Interim Joint House Committee report on the Benghazi attacks.  The security contractors were not at the Temporary Mission Facility at the time of this event. 

·        The Committee did not downplay the ferocity of the terrorist attacks at the Annex that night.  The CIA security team and their DoD colleagues professionally defended the facility with great skill and honor. 

·        The Tripoli team assisted in the defense of the Annex that night.  Glen Doherty was a member of the Tripoli Team.  Some press articles seem to draw a divide between officers defending from the rooftops and the other officers protecting the Annex.  The rooftop positions were not the only defensive positions at the Annex that night.  

·        The mortar fire that hit the roof of the CIA Annex was the deadly portion of the attack, but it was not the only component. Terrorists attacked with RPGs and smalls arms fire and attempted to breach the Annex. The security teams successfully defended against the assault despite the devastating mortar effects to those officers on the rooftops.  Time-stamped video evidence conclusively shows that the Libyan Shield militia left the CIA Annex before the mortar fire began.  

·        Eyewitness testimony was consistently critical of the conduct of all but one of the Diplomatic Security agents.  The Report accurately reflects the testimony the Committee received.  

·        As the Report indicated, the Department of Defense directed a Predator drone to Benghazi well before one security contractor said he requested it.  The CIA security officers in Benghazi should have known that no close air support was available because that information was widely disseminated via cable traffic.  The assertions by some contractors about the availability of air support are not representative of the totality of eyewitness testimony and indicate that some may not remember the read-outs of the Emergency Action Committee meetings or the official cable traffic from CIA on the security for the CIA Annex.   Further, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) exhaustively investigated the military posture during the attacks and their response to the attacks in Benghazi.  The HASC accounted for all Spectre gunships in the U.S. inventory, and the HASC report speaks for itself. 

·        There is no evidence showing that the CIA intimidated or prevented any officer from speaking to the Congress or telling his story.  All officers testified to the Committee that they were not intimidated.  As the Committee report explained, the non-disclosure agreements specifically allow for persons to speak with the Intelligence Committees and outline the requirements for pre-publication review.  Further, both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are aware of the Tripoli officer’s complaint to the CIA Inspector General, the IG’s actions in that regard, and have documentation related to that claim.  That correspondence is, however, protected by law from disclosure.  

The “BOLO” report was only one of hundreds of intelligence reports indicating the increasing threat environment to U.S. and western facilities in Benghazi.  The BOLO is emblematic of strategic warning.  The Committee’s report outlined all of the tactical intelligence about potential plotting to attack U.S. facilities that day.


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