The Third Account Of Where 60 Minutes' Benghazi Witness Was That Night

The Third Account Of Where 60 Minutes' Benghazi Witness Was That Night

Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

Dylan DaviesA year before CBS News aired -- and then retracted -- a segment featuring a British security operator claiming to be an eyewitness of the 2012 Benghazi attacks, a U.K. paper reported he wasn't even in the city that night.

Here's the October 14, 2012 report -- differing from the story Dylan Davies apparently told the FBI and his bosses as well as his publisher and CBS' Lara Logan -- from The Telegraph:

Darryl Davies, the manager of the Benghazi contract for Blue Mountain, flew out of the city hours before the attack was launched. The Daily Telegraph has learned that relations between the firm and its Libyan partner had broken down, leading to the withdrawal of Mr Davies.

Any attempt to fact-check Davies' story should have included Googling his name and that of his company, which would have unearthed the Telegraph story. While there's no evidence this account -- which is both unsourced and gets Davies' first name wrong -- is accurate, the existence of another story should have been a red flag for CBS that they needed to be wary and make every possible effort to confirm his report. 

Apologizing for her report on CBS' This Morning, Logan said that the network had confirmed Davies' identity and that he had "was in Benghazi at the special mission compound the night of the attack" and had used "U.S. government reports and congressional testimony to verify many of the details of his story":

LOGAN: Well, we verified and confirmed that he was who he said he was, that he was working for the State Department at the time, that he was in Benghazi at the special mission compound the night of the attack, and that, you know, he showed us -- he gave us access to communications he had with U.S. government officials. We used U.S. government reports and congressional testimony to verify many of the details of his story, and everything checked out. He also showed us photographs that he had taken at the special mission compound the following morning and, you know, we take the vetting of sources and stories very seriously at 60 Minutes. And we took it seriously in this case. But we were misled, and we were wrong, and that's the important thing. That's what we have to say here. We have to set the record straight and take responsibility.

But it's unclear what "government reports" they reviewed -- clearly not the incident report Davies' company had filed, of which she said she had not been aware, or the FBI report that reportedly corroborating it.

Those documents show Davies saying that he had never been to the Benghazi compound on the night of the attack, while the CBS segment and Davies' CBS-published book claim that he scaled the wall and knocked out a terrorist.

Nor is it clear how Davies' presence at the compound was "verified" -- did they seek out the other people in the story Davies tells and try to confirm his tale? 

Asked in a now-deleted Q&A about why Davies (identified by CBS with the pseudonym "Morgan Jones") had decided to speak with the network, Logan said he "is tortured by guilt that he was not able to save his friends in the U.S. Compound."

"That may sound ridiculous to people who couldn't think of anything more insane than rushing towards a burning building that is overrun with al Qaeda terrorists," Logan continued, "but Morgan Jones is the kind of man who would do that and who did do that. And when he failed the first time, he went back again."

CBS News is now maintaining that they didn't think the story was too good to check. But it's clear that the effort they made was woefully insufficient.

UPDATE: It's worth pointing out that Logan made clear during her apology this morning is that one thing CBS News absolutely knew is that Davies had previously told a false story about his role in the Benghazi attack. From Logan's interview this morning with Norah O'Donnell:

O'DONNELL: But why would you stand by this report after Dylan Davies admitted lying to his own employer?

LOGAN: Because he was very upfront about that from the beginning, that was always part of his story. The context of it, when he tells his story, is that his boss is someone he cared about enormously. He cared about his American counterparts in the mission that night, and when his boss told him not to go, he couldn't stay back. So, that was always part of the record for us. And, that part didn't come as any surprise.

Logan says that she didn't know about the FBI report or the incident report - but she DID know that Davies had at some point lied about what happened that night.

That's another red flag that demands extensive corroboration and fact-checking, especially since Davies was hoping to make money off his story through a book and movie deal.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy
Lara Logan
60 Minutes, CBS News
Libya, Benghazi
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.