Center for Strategic Communication

13 Hours in Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff with the Annex Security Team

I just received a courtesy review copy of 13 Hours in Benghazi from Tony at Twelve Books. 13 Hours tells the story of the terrorist attack in Benghazi from the perspective of the surviving CIA security contractors, including Kris Paronto, Mark “Oz” Geist, and John Tiegen  who ultimately defied orders from the CIA and came to the aid of besieged diplomats at the consulate. In the process, CIA operatives Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods  were killed and Mark Geist was severely wounded . The Obama administration, which at the time had been far more concerned about spinning the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack as the spontaneous result of an obscure anti-Islam video than taking effective action, has pointedly neither honored the surviving Annex Team member’s  heroism in attempting to rescue USG personnel in Benghazi nor stepped up to help pay the extensive medical bills incurred by Mr. Geist ( though they did honor those killed in the attack).

A useful reminder, that being a CIA contractor or PMC contractor is often no picnic . It is important to remember that many men working as security contractors, particularly for the CIA Special Activities Division, are frequently SF and SOF veterans with impressive combat records in service to the United States. The old popular media image of contractors as 1970′s type “Mad Mike” Hoare “mercs” is more Hollywood than reality.

The writing, by Boston University professor Mitchell Zuckoff, is fast-paced and hard-hitting. A sample:

….Unsure where the attackers might be, going on foot seemed like a death wish. Outside the TOC was an armored vehicle that the attackers had failed to burn when they ran out of diesel. After retrieving the keys from inside the TOC, Ubben and the two Tripoli-based agents leapt in and drove the short way to the villa. They ran into the patio where Wickland had come through the open bedroom window. Three DS agents climbed the ladder up to the roof and found Wickland vomiting from severe smoke inhalation and on the brink of unconsciousness.

Desperate to find Stevens and Smith, Ubben and the two Tripoli-based agents scrambled back down. Noxious diesel smoke still filled the safe haven. Visibility remained poor. Two of the agents set up a defensive perimeter to guard the window, while a third went inside, crawling across the floor to search for the ambassador and the communications expert. He only could remain inside briefly before the lack of air drove him back to the window.

Full review to come at a later date.