CBS's Logan Lets Benghazi Witness, Stevens' Advisers Cut Through Obama 'Misinformation'
On Sunday's 60 Minutes, CBS's Lara Logan bluntly pointed out how the September 11, 2012 Islamist attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya "have been overshadowed by misinformation, confusion, and intense partisanship". Logan turned to an actual eyewitness of the attack, along with two former advisers to deceased Ambassador Chris Stevens – Greg Hicks and a Green Beret officer – to refreshingly outline what actually happened that infamous night.
However, the correspondent failed to explicitly mention President Barack Obama or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her report. She only vaguely noted that "contrary to the White House's public statements, which were still being made a full week later, it's now well established that the Americans were attacked by al Qaeda in a well-planned assault." [video below the jump]
Logan led with her "misinformation" line, and introduced Morgan Jones, a former member of the British military, who uses that pseudonym for personal safety reasons. Jones was in charge of the unarmed security force inside the walls of the main U.S. compound in Benghazi. He revealed that he snuck inside the hospital where Ambassador Stevens had been taken, and quickly learned about diplomat's death. Jones also outlined his concerns about the armed militia guarding the facility.
The CBS correspondent soon turned to Lt. Colonel Andy Wood, a member of the Green Berets, who helped oversee security for U.S. government facilities in Libya. Wood underlined how two other foreign-run facilities had been attacked during the lead up to the September 2012 attack. Logan asked, "And Washington was aware of that?" The military officer replied, "They knew we monitored it. We included that in our reports to both State Department and DOD [Department of Defense]." Wood also recounted how he recommended that the Benghazi compound either be closed or moved, as "the attack cycle is such that they're in their...final planning stages."
Logan then spent much of the rest of the segment outlining the timeline of the terrorist attack, using soundbites from Jones, Wood, and Hicks to detail the horrors of that night:
LARA LOGAN (voice-over): When the attack began on the evening of September 11, Ambassador Stevens immediately called Greg Hicks, who was back in Tripoli.
GREG HICKS: Ambassador said that the consulate's under attack and then the line cut.
LOGAN (on-camera): Do you remember the sound of his voice?
HICKS: Oh, yeah, it's indelibly imprinted on my mind.
LOGAN: How did he sound?
HICKS: He sounded frightened.
LOGAN (voice-over): In Benghazi, Morgan Jones, who was at his apartment about 15 minutes away, got a frantic call from one of his Libyan guards.
MORGAN JONES: I could hear gunshots. And I – and he said there's – there's men coming into the mission. His voice, he was – he was scared. You could tell he was really scared and he was running. I could tell he was running.
LOGAN (voice-over): His first thought was for his American friends – the State Department agents who were pinned down inside the compound – and he couldn't believe it when one of them answered his phone.
JONES: I said, what's going on? He said, 'We're getting attacked., And I said, how many? And he said, 'They're all over the compound.' And I felt shocked. I didn't know what to say. And I said, well, just keep fighting. I'm on my way.
LOGAN (voice-over): Morgan's guards told him the armed Libyan militia that was supposed to defend the compound had fled – just as Morgan had predicted. His guards – unarmed and terrified – sounded the alarm, but they were instantly overwhelmed by the attackers.
JONES: They said we're here to kill Americans, not Libyans. So, they'd give them a good beating – pistol-whip them, beat them with their rifles – and let them go....
LOGAN (voice-over): About 30 minutes into the attack, a quick reaction force from the CIA annex ignored orders to wait and raced to the compound – at times running and shooting their way through the streets just to get there. Inside the compound, they repelled a force of as many as 60 armed terrorists, and managed to save five American lives and recover the body of Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith. They were forced to fight their way out before they could find the ambassador....
The same force that had gone to the compound was now defending the CIA annex. Hours later, they were joined by a small team of Americans from Tripoli. From defensive positions on these rooftops, the Americans fought back a professional enemy. In a final wave of intense fighting, just after 5 am, the attackers unleashed a barrage of mortars. Three of them slammed into this roof, killing former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
LOGAN (on-camera): They hit that roof three times.
ANDY WOOD: They – they hit those roofs three times.
LOGAN: In the dark.
WOOD: Yeah. That's getting the basketball through the hoop over your shoulder.
LOGAN: What does it take to pull off an attack like that?
WOOD: Coordination, planning, training, experienced personnel. They practice those things. They knew what they were doing. That was a – that was a well-executed attack.
LOGAN (voice-over): We have learned that there were two Delta Force operators who fought at the annex, and they've since been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cross– two of the military's highest honors. The Americans who rushed to help that night went without asking for permission, and the lingering question is why no larger military response ever crossed the border into Libya – something Greg Hicks realized wasn't going to happen just an hour into the attack.
LOGAN (on-camera): You have this conversation with the defense attache. You ask him what military assets are on their way. And he says-
HICKS: Effectively, they're not. And I – for a moment, I just felt lost. I just couldn't believe the answer. And then, I made the call to the annex chief, and I told him, listen, you've got to tell those guys there may not be any help coming.
LOGAN: That's a tough thing to understand. Why?
HICKS: It just is. We – for us – for the people that go out onto the edge to represent our country, we believe that if we get in trouble, they're coming to get us – that our back is covered. To hear that it's not – it's a terrible, terrible experience.
Besides not mention Obama or Hillary Clinton by name, Logan omitted any mention of her colleague Steve Kroft's January 2013 joint interview of the two Democrats, where he tossed beyond softball questions at the former First Lady on Benghazi: "You had a very long day. Also, how is your health?...Do you feel guilty in any way, at a personal level? Do you blame yourself that you didn't know or that you should have known?"