Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in
Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up
during the attack on the U.S. Consulate and subsequent attack several
hours later was denied by officials in the CIA chain of command -- who
also told the CIA operators twice to "stand down" rather than help the
ambassador's team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in
Benghazi on Sept. 11.
Former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were part of a small
team who were at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. Consulate
where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When they
heard the shots fired, they radioed to inform their higher-ups to tell
them what they were hearing and requested permission to go to the
consulate and help out. They were told to "stand down," according to
sources familiar with the exchange. An hour later, they called again to
headquarters and were again told to "stand down."
Woods, Doherty and at least two others ignored those orders and made
their way to the Consulate which at that point was on fire. Shots were
exchanged. The quick reaction force from the CIA annex evacuated those
who remained at the Consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the
initial attack. They could not find the ambassador and returned to the
CIA annex at about midnight.
At that point, they called again for military support and help
because they were taking fire at the CIA safe house, or annex. The
request was denied. There were no communications problems at the annex,
according those present at the compound. The team was in constant radio
contact with their headquarters. In fact, at least one member of the
team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when
mortars were fired at the CIA compound. The security officer had a laser
on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support
from a Specter gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special
Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the
ground involved in intense firefights. The fighting at the CIA annex
went on for more than four hours -- enough time for any planes based in
Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also
learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told
to wait, among them Delta Force operators.
Watch "Special Report Investigates: Death and Deceit in
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A Special Operations team, or CIF which stands for Commanders in
Extremis Force, operating in Central Europe had been moved to Sigonella,
Italy, but they too were told to stand down. A second force that
specializes in counterterrorism rescues was on hand at Sigonella,
according to senior military and intelligence sources. According to
those sources, they could have flown to Benghazi in less than two hours.
They were the same distance to Benghazi as those that were sent from
Tripoli. Specter gunships are commonly used by the Special Operations
community to provide close air support.
According to sources on the ground during the attack, the special
operator on the roof of the CIA annex had visual contact and a laser
pointing at the Libyan mortar team that was targeting the CIA annex. The
operators were calling in coordinates of where the Libyan forces were
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon on
Thursday that there was not a clear enough picture of what was occurring
on the ground in Benghazi to send help.
"There's a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on here,"
Panetta said Thursday. "But the basic principle here ... is that you
don't deploy forces into harm's way without knowing what's going on."
Fox News has learned that there were two military surveillance drones
redirected to Benghazi shortly after the attack on the Consulate began.
They were already in the vicinity. The second surveillance craft was
sent to relieve the first drone, perhaps due to fuel issues. Both were
capable of sending real time visuals back to U.S. officials in
Washington, D.C. Any U.S. official or agency with the proper clearance,
including the White House Situation Room, State Department, CIA,
Pentagon and others, could call up that video in real time on their
Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, were part of a Global Response Staff
or GRS that provides security to CIA case officers and provides
countersurveillance and surveillance protection. They were killed by a
mortar shell at 4 a.m. Libyan time, nearly seven hours after the attack
on the Consulate began -- a window that represented more than enough
time for the U.S. military to send back-up from nearby bases in Europe,
according to sources familiar with Special Operations. Four mortars were
fired at the annex. The first one struck outside the annex. Three more
hit the annex.
A motorcade of dozens of Libyan vehicles, some mounted with 50
caliber machine guns, belonging to the February 17th Brigades, a Libyan
militia which is friendly to the U.S., finally showed up at the CIA
annex at approximately 3 a.m. An American Quick Reaction Force sent from
Tripoli had arrived at the Benghazi airport at 2 a.m. (four hours after
the initial attack on the Consulate) and was delayed for 45 minutes at
the airport because they could not at first get transportation,
allegedly due to confusion among Libyan militias who were supposed to
escort them to the annex, according to Benghazi sources.
The American special operators, Woods, Doherty and at least two
others were part of the Global Response Staff, a CIA element, based at
the CIA annex and were protecting CIA operators who were part of a
mission to track and repurchase arms in Benghazi that had proliferated
in the wake of Muammar Qaddafi's fall. Part of their mission was to find
the more than 20,000 missing MANPADS, or shoulder-held missiles capable
of bringing down a commercial aircraft. According to a source on the
ground at the time of the attack, the team inside the CIA annex had
captured three Libyan attackers and was forced to hand them over to the
Libyans. U.S. officials do not know what happened to those three
attackers and whether they were released by the Libyan forces.
Fox News has also learned that Stevens was in Benghazi that day to be
present at the opening of an English-language school being started by
the Libyan farmer who helped save an American pilot who had been shot
down by pro-Qaddafi forces during the initial war to overthrow the
regime. That farmer saved the life of the American pilot and the
Ambassador wanted to be present to launch the Libyan rescuer's new
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