Harf on Benghazi: "These Gentlemen Eventually Did Assist, Disproving There Was A Stand-Down Order"

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REPORTER: Marie, in Friday’s briefing where you addressed the stand-down controversy, you repeatedly said that there was “a short delay” that was ordered by the chief of base that night was smart and prudent because it was designed to help the CIA security contractors obtain, as you put it, additional backup and additional weapons. From whom and where did the chief of base expect to procure this additional backup of weapons?

MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT: I don’t have details for you on that, but again, he thought it was prudent to take a short time to see if they could get additional weapons and backup, given they did not know the severity of the security situation they were sending their men into. Of course, wanted to avoid additional loss of life, but again, as I said on Friday, there was no stand-down order. There’s a fundamental difference between a short delay for these kind of security considerations and a stand-down order, which implies some effort to prevent people from aiding those under attack. As we know, these gentlemen eventually did go and assist, so disproving the theory that there was a stand-down order.

QUESTION: But you can’t say who they were requesting --

MS. HARF: I can check and see if there are details on that.

QUESTION: It wasn’t the February 17th Brigade?

MS. HARF: I can check and see what the details are on that.

QUESTION: Okay. As we look back on Benghazi with almost two years from now, can we say with certainty – just given how the events unfolded that night – that it was indeed a mistake to invest such confidence in local militias there to help these U.S. diplomats?

MS. HARF: Well, I think that’s, quite frankly, grossly simplifying what was a very sad and tragic day, where we know more could’ve been done with security. We knew the situation in Benghazi and in the rest of Libya was a dangerous one, but State Department employees and our counterparts from other agencies serve in dangerous places because we believe it’s important for America to lead and to be engaged and to help promote freedom and democracy and help people who are working towards those ends.

So obviously, we’ve said that more could have been done with security. We’ve spent these last two years doing more: implementing the ARB’s recommendations, making our people safer overseas. That’s been the focus of what we’ve done. But broadly speaking, of course, we believed it was important to engage there, and we still believe it’s important, even given today’s, quite frankly, tough security environment in Libya.

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