EXCLUSIVE: Security on the State Department’s Benghazi compound was so dire that one other contractor was introduced in to scrub up the mess simply two weeks earlier than the 2012 terror assault – and was later pressured to maintain quiet by a authorities bureaucrat beneath then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in response to two males from the American security firm.
Brad Owens and Jerry Torres, of Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, say they confronted stress to remain silent and get on the identical web page with the State Department with regard to the security lapses that led to the deaths of 4 Americans.
They spoke solely with Fox News for “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” revealing new info that undermines the State Department’s account of the 2012 terror assault in Benghazi, the place Islamic militants launched a 13-hour assault from Sept. 11-12 that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, international service officer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALS Ty Woods and Glenn Doherty.
Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions offers security for U.S. embassy and consulate personnel around the globe in a number of the most harmful areas spanning Africa, the Middle East and South America, in response to the agency.
Jerry Torres stays haunted by the very fact particular bureaucrats and insurance policies stay within the State Department after the Benghazi assault regardless of the change in administrations. “A U.S. ambassador is lifeless and no one is held accountable for it. And three guys … all died attempting to defend him,” mentioned Torres, the corporate’s CEO and a former Green Beret.
Asked if there was a particular effort by a senior State Department contracting officer to silence them, Torres mentioned, “Absolutely, completely.”
Owens, a former Army intelligence officer, echoed his colleague, saying these “who made the poor decisions that really, I might say, have been extra chargeable for the Benghazi assaults than anybody else, they’re nonetheless in the identical positions, making security decisions for our embassies abroad now.”
In 2012, Owens was the American firm’s level man in Libya with in depth expertise within the area. After the demise of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi within the fall of 2011, Owens burdened to Fox News it was well-known that Islamic radicals together with Al Qaeda-tied militias have been pouring into the area and security “had deteriorated significantly.”
Based on paperwork reviewed by Fox News, Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions bid on the Benghazi compound security contract within the spring of 2012. But the State Department awarded the deal to a U.K.-based operation called The Blue Mountain Group.
Owens, who had personally visited the Benghazi compound to evaluate security, was shocked. “Blue Mountain U.Ok. is a teeny, tiny, little security firm registered in Wales that had by no means had a diplomatic security contract, had by no means carried out any excessive risk contracts wherever else on the planet that we have been capable of finding, a lot much less in excessive risk areas for the U.S. authorities. They had a couple of guys on the bottom,” he mentioned.
According to Torres, the Blue Mountain Group got here in four % decrease than their bid – and so they challenged the choice, claiming the American firm ought to have been most popular over the international one.
Torres mentioned State Department contracting officer Jan Visintainer responded that the State Department had the “latitude to use” that desire or not.
And there was extra: The Blue Mountain Group employed guards by means of one other firm who weren’t armed.
Problems quickly arose. One month earlier than the assault — in August 2012, with The Blue Mountain Group nonetheless answerable for compound security — Ambassador Stevens and his workforce alerted the State Department by way of diplomatic cable that radical Islamic teams have been all over the place and that the non permanent mission compound couldn’t stand up to a “coordinated assault.” The categorized cable was first reported by Fox News.
By Aug. 31, 2012, the state of affairs had deteriorated to the purpose that Owens and Torres mentioned the State Department asked them to intervene – as Owens put it, an “admission of the error of selecting the fallacious firm.”
“They got here again to us and mentioned, ‘Can you guys are available and take over security?’ Owens mentioned. “So we have been prepared.”
But Torres emphasised that point was towards them, saying it could have taken two-to-three weeks to get arrange.
Twelve days later, the ambassador was killed. Torres discovered of the assaults by watching tv. He known as the circumstances main as much as the tragedy “unhealthy decision-making from high to backside.”
“There was nothing we might’ve carried out about it. If we might had one month warning … who is aware of what would possibly’ve occurred,” Owens mentioned.
In the chaotic days following that assault, the Obama White House blamed the assaults on an anti-Islam video and demonstration which was not correct. As a former Green Beret, Torres was shocked: “Coming from a navy background, I might anticipate the administration to inform the reality. So I purchased into it for a minute. But I did not consider it behind my thoughts.” He mentioned they later found out the video was not the offender. The assault was a coordinated terrorist assault which included a precision mortar strike on the CIA publish in Benghazi.
But because the Obama administration and Clinton’s workforce struggled to reply questions in regards to the assaults, Visintainer apparently took it one step additional — summoning Jerry Torres from abroad to attend a gathering at her authorities workplace in Rosslyn, Va., in early 2013.
Torres took Fox News again to the Virginia workplace constructing the place he recalled that day’s occasions.
“[Visintainer] mentioned that I and folks from Torres mustn’t communicate to the media, mustn’t communicate to any officers with respect to the Benghazi program,” he mentioned.
Torres mentioned he was afraid for his firm – and hasn’t spoken publicly till now.
“We had about eight,000 workers on the time. You know, we simply did not want that stage of harm as a result of these guys, their livelihood depends on the corporate,” he mentioned. “I belief that our U.S. authorities goes to comply with chain of command, comply with procedures, comply with protocols and do the proper factor.”
Another a part of that dialog caught out to Torres. He mentioned Visintainer informed him “in her opinion, that guards shouldn’t be armed at U.S. embassies. She simply made that blanket assertion. … And she mentioned that they weren’t required in Benghazi. So I used to be form of confused about that. And she mentioned that she would really like my assist in saying that if that got here up. And I checked out her. I simply did not reply.”
The State Department declined Fox News’ request to make Visintainer accessible for an interview, or have her reply written e-mail questions.
The Blue Mountain Group didn’t instantly reply to questions from Fox News.
Torres and Owens mentioned repercussions towards their firm proceed to today – and that of the 20 security power contracts they’ve bid on since that dialog, they’ve misplaced 18.
Torres and Owens are involved one other assault just like the one in Benghazi might occur once more as a result of the identical State Department workers chargeable for the Benghazi contract stay in place and the contracting guidelines are outdated.
“In 1990, Congress handed a legislation that required contracts of this nature to go to the bottom bidder that is technically acceptable,” Owens defined. “Now, what that has created is a race to the underside, is what we name it. So principally, each firm tries to chop each nook they’ll for these contracts.”
The males say they’re hopeful that adjustments will include the Trump administration’s promise to “drain the swamp.”
“Let’s simply say there’s been a change at administration at Department of State,” Owens mentioned. “I really feel now that, on condition that the politics has been taken out of the Benghazi state of affairs, now that there is not any longer a candidate or something associated to it, a change of administrations, that really, we’ve got a chance right here to repair the issues that made it occur.”
On the fifth anniversary, Torres mentioned he thinks in regards to the 4 households who misplaced a father, a brother or a son within the 2012 assault, and feels sorry “for not bringing this up earlier. For not truly being there, on the bottom and taking good care of these guys.”
Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based mostly in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.
Pamela Ok. Browne is Senior Executive Producer on the FOX News Channel (FNC) and is Director of Long-Form Series and Specials. Her journalism has been acknowledged with a number of awards. Browne first joined FOX in 1997 to launch the information journal “Fox Files” and later, “War Stories.”
Cyd Upson is a Senior Producer at FOX News.