After multiple investigations concluded that no “stand down” order was given to security personnel responding to the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Fox News alleged that the delay security personnel took to enlist support amounted to a “stand down” order.
On the September 5 edition of Special Report, host Bret Baier once again hyped the asked-and-answered question from his Fox News special, “13 Hours at Benghazi,” based on the accounts of three CIA security personnel who alleged they were delayed in responding to the diplomatic facility under attack in Benghazi, Libya. Baier criticized the “semantics” used by deputy State Department spokesperson Marie Harf, who during a press briefing explained that “there was no stand-down order” but there was a short delay “for very good security reasons to get additional backup and additional weapons” for the security personnel before responding to the attack.
Fox contributor Steve Hayes chided Harf, saying that “she admits that there was a delay” which is “the same thing” as a stand down order. Fox's Charles Krauthammer added that “there is no distinction between stand down and don't go.”
The delayed response however was not a stand down order. As Lt. Col. Gibson, commander of a small group of special forces troops in Tripoli during the attack explained when rebutting the “stand down” claims that revolved around his unit, "'Stand down' implied that we cease all operations, cease all activities." The New York Times reported that the security personnel were delayed while the Benghazi CIA base chief was trying “to enlist local Libyan militiamen, and the commandos speculate that he hoped the Libyans could carry out the rescue alone to avoid exposing the C.I.A. base.”
Hayes and Baier admitted as much on the September 4 edition of Special Report when Hayes pointed out that the House Intelligence Committee's Benghazi report “says that there was no stand down order” and Baier acknowledged that the Senate Intelligence Committee January 2014 review of the attacks “said that in fact it was working to get this February 17 militia to respond first.”