US commandos claim CIA station chief delayed Benghazi rescue

U.S. commandos who tried to save Ambassador Christopher Stevens and other Americans during the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, write in a new book that the CIA station chief held up the rescue attempt, The New York Times reports.

Five commandos — who were former Special Operations forces and hired by the CIA as private contractors — say the station chief ordered them to wait 20 minutes before heading to the U.S. diplomatic mission. 

In the book 13 Hours, obtained by the Times, the commandos say they eventually disregarded the station chief’s order after a plea for help.

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“If you guys do not get here, we are going to die!” a diplomatic security agent shouted to them over the radio, the commandos write, and they left the base despite the order to “stand down.”

The book is scheduled for release next week, two years after the attack that left Stevens and three other Americans dead. 

The station chief likely issued the “stand down” order on his own authority, the Times said.

The report also notes the book's story matches previous narratives and statements about the timeline of the attack. U.S. officials, for instance, previously said the CIA security team was told to wait for support from Libyan militia allies.

“Hey, we gotta go now! We’re losing the initiative!” one commando says he objected to the station chief, whom he says replied, “No, stand down, you need to wait.”

“We are going to have the local militia handle it,” the chief said later, according to the commandos.

A journalism professor from Boston University wrote the book. Three of the commandos are named — Mark Geist, John Tiegen and Kris Paronto — and the two others used pseudonyms.