Kris “Tanto” Paronto, one of the special operators who was in Benghazi during the September 11, 2012 consulate attack told Sirius XM’s David Webb on Monday night he gave closed door testimony to Congress about his account of what happened that night and was accused by a House Intelligence Sub-Committee of “disobeying an order”during the night of the terrorist strike.
Although the full Committee concluded that no ‘stand-down order’ was given to American personnel offering assistance the night of the attack, Paronto and two other American special operators Mark “Oz” Geist, and John “Tig” Tiegen, dispute this conclusion.
Tiegen said, “[After] 25 minutes we pretty much decided amongst ourselves to go. We weren’t going to wait on a yes or a no anymore. We just got in a vehicle and rolled out.”
The special operators based out of the CIA Annex say they were told to stand down twice by the Chief of Base, an individual the three men named “Bob” in their book written by author Mitchell Zuckoff. Paronto says he received the first stand down order.
“We did it on our own accord. Nobody gave us the order to [do it]. We were just sitting around for so long and told to stand down and wait and with our friends in peril,” Paronto explained. “We just made the command decision amongst ourselves. And you said it like you said before. With our experiences, we were like, ‘This is way too long. We need to get out of here and go help our friends now.'”
However, when it came time to tell his story to a House Intelligence sub-committee, Paronto says he was accused of disobeying an order.
“The things that I’m telling you now is the exact same thing I told the committees in our hearings. I looked at one of the congressman’s face. I don’t remember which one, ‘Yes. I was told to wait twice,'” Paronto said he told the member.
“During my intel committee hearing testimony, I was asked about the stand down order and basically was accused of disobeying an order, because we left on the third ‘wait’ and I was asked, ‘So you guys left. So you disobeyed an order,'” Paronto said, agreeing that he couldn’t disobey something that didn’t exist.
Zuckoff, who wrote about the special operators’ experience in a new book recently released titled 13 Hours–The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, noted:
This is where the confusion begins. Because it doesn’t necessarily need to be a stand down order of military assets. That’s sometimes where it gets confusing, where the allegation of military assets were told to stand down. That’s not what these guys are saying. That’s not what they had access to. What their knowledge was–was an on the ground stand down order. So when we hear that from the House Armed Services Committee, it becomes conflated, as thought its an umbrella over all the orders. Again what we show in 13 hours is, you may say that is true about military assets that were in Sardinia or else where in Africa, [but in Benghazi] was where the rubber hit the road.
Benghazi Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy released a statement regarding the account of that night in Benghazi the group of special ops is giving to media outlets.
“We welcome the opportunity, and expect, to talk to personnel who were on the ground in Benghazi, their superiors, and anyone with relevant information related to the Benghazi terrorist attack. There are still facts to learn about Benghazi and information that needs to be explained in greater detail to the American people. And this Committee will do just that.”