The testimony of nine military officers undermines contentions by Republican lawmakers that a "stand-down order" held back military assets that could have saved the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans killed at a diplomatic outpost and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya. The "stand-down" theory centers on a Special Operations team of four -- a detachment leader, a medic, a communications expert and a weapons operator with his foot in a cast -- who were stopped from flying from Tripoli to Benghazi after the attacks of Sept. 11-12, 2012, had ended. Instead, they were instructed to help protect and care for those being evacuated from Benghazi and from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli. The senior military officer who issued the instruction to "remain in place" and the detachment leader who received it said it was the right decision and has been widely mischaracterized. The order was to remain in Tripoli and protect some three dozen embassy personnel rather than fly to Benghazi some 600 miles away after all Americans there would have been evacuated. And the medic is credited with saving the life of an evacuee from the attacks.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.): “We need to have an answer of when the Secretary of Defense had assets that he could have begun spinning up. Why there was not one order given to turn on one Department of Defense asset? I have my suspicions, which is Secretary Clinton told Leon [Panetta] to stand down, and we all heard about the stand down order for two military personnel. That order is undeniable." Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah): “Military personnel were ready willing and able, and within proximity, but the Pentagon told them they had no authority and to stand down.” Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.): “Even more troubling is the fact that they asked for permission to deploy four U.S. Special Operations troops to Benghazi the next morning, and they were told to stand down.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): “In essence, there are now witnesses saying that they were ready to go in and help at least prevent the second wave of attacks, but they were told to stand down."