Kris Paronto and Mark Geist, two security officers who were in Benghazi on the night of the September 11, 2012 terror attacks debated Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) after Smith and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) denied that a stand-down order was given on the night of the attacks, and Schiff suggested that the Paronto and Geist were only trying to promote their book.
Paronto reiterated that he and his colleagues were told to stand-down saying “the semantics of the words we’re playing with here are ridiculous. The order was given, it cost lives … I want to say to Mr. Smith, was he there that night with us?”
Smith clarified that “the reference that I made was to the folks in Tripoli. I was making no reference whatsoever to the annex in Benghazi. There’s two stand-down orders that are out there. One was for the special operations team that was in Tripoli. One planeload of people did go from Tripoli to Benghazi. A second was considering going. Some of the special ops guys wanted to go and they were told not to. They were told not to because they felt they needed to secure the situation in Tripoli. That is what I was referring to. Those people were not told to stand down.”
He also distanced himself from the comments made by Schiff that Geist and Paronto’s intentions were merely to sell more books declaring, “I wouldn’t say that at all.”
“He [Schiff] attacked us, we’re not the enemy” Geist responded, with Paronto adding “it doesn’t matter if it was by you, then should have stood up and said ‘you know what, that was incorrect, that should have been said.’”
Smith also turned to the issue of the Station Chief referred to as “Bob” telling Paronto and Geist’s group to wait before going to aid the besieged consulate, remarking “it seems to me what Bob was deciding in that situation wasn’t, ‘no, under no circumstances do we not want to help these people,’ he was making a command judgment call as to what was the highest risk. Now he may well have been wrong, and you gentlemen make a very good argument for that, but the argument that he said ‘no we’re just not helping them,’ he was making a judgment call about what the best thing to do was there.”
Both Geist and Paronto also stood by their assertion that the attack could not have been a spontaneous protest, “you do not bring RPGs to a protest,” Paronto stated.
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