Fox News exploited witnesses to the Benghazi attacks to further its Benghazi hoax just days before a GOP-led select committee holds its first public hearing, even though these witnesses were previously interviewed in congressional investigations that months ago debunked claims made during the Fox News Reporting: 13 Hours at Benghazi special.
The September 5 Fox special featured interviews with three CIA security contractors who were present in Benghazi during the September 2012 attacks, and aimed to answer “Whether or not military assistance was requested by the security team and whether orders from above hindered their response to the violence that claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.” The chairman of the Benghazi Select Committee already took notice of the Fox program and used it to justify the establishment of his committee.
The witnesses on Fox mentioned that they requested the support of combat aircraft and insisted, contrary to multiple independent and congressional reports, that they were told to “stand down” by the chief of the CIA base in Benghazi. They later claimed that if there had been no delay, Ambassador Stevens would still be alive:
What Fox failed to mention was that the CIA officers and contractors present in Libya during the attacks were previously interviewed by Congress in private testimony before a House intelligence subcommittee. This testimony destroyed the myths that anyone had been ordered to “stand down” and that a speedier response would have saved more lives.
A December 2013 Associated Press report on this testimony cited Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), “who heads a House intelligence subcommittee that interviewed the employees,” to explain that the CIA personnel were fully aware there would be no air support:
He explained that the lack of air support was clear to all CIA employees working in Libya because of a 2011 CIA memorandum sent to employees after NATO forces ended their mission in support of the Libyan revolution.
One contractor testified that he shouted repeatedly over the agency's radio system to his CIA security boss that they should request combat aircraft. But the security chief explained to lawmakers that he ignored his subordinate's demands because he said he knew that no combat aircraft were available for such a mission, Westmoreland said.
The testimony revealed that there was a delay in the CIA response team departing to the aid of those under attack at the diplomatic facility in an attempt to round up additional support for them from a local Libyan militia, and that "[s]ome CIA security contractors disagreed with their bosses and wanted to move more quickly." Westmoreland told AP that “he believes this disagreement was the source of allegations that the CIA ordered security personnel to 'stand down' and not help the people inside the diplomatic mission.”
The full report from the GOP-led House Intelligence Committee ultimately found that “There was no 'stand-down order' given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening,” according to Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), a member of the committee. The Senate Intelligence Committee and independent Accountability Review Board also found that no orders from above obstructed the rescue operation, despite the suggestion by Fox that this occurred.
The AP report also said of the testimony by the CIA officers and contractors present in Libya during the attack:
None of those who testified said a quicker response would have saved the lives of Stevens and communications specialist Sean Smith at the temporary diplomatic facility.
The statements made by the CIA contractors in this Fox special are ultimately old news and don't match up with their testimony in a congressional investigation that debunked many of the network's narratives about the attacks.