The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee on Friday said new allegations that U.S. commandos were ordered to “stand down” during the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, aren’t supported by findings from House and Senate investigators.
Five commandos who survived the Benghazi attack, which claimed the lives of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, made the allegation in a new book, accusing the CIA station chief of delaying a rescue mission.
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) said lawmakers never came across evidence indicating the station chief had told his team to “stand down” and abort a rescue mission.
“After interviewing these individuals, including those writing the book, and all of the others on the ground that night, both Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that there was not, in fact, an order to stand down and no evidence was found to support such a claim,” he said.
Contractors and other security officers told the House committee about 25 minutes passed between learning about the attack and the time the commandos departed for their rescue mission, the congressman said.
“The team said they were prepped and ready to go within minutes, but the senior CIA officers responsible for the welfare of all Annex personnel were concerned they might be sending their security team into an ambush so they tried to obtain better intelligence and heavy weapons before dispatching the team,” Ruppersberger added.
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