One of Chuck’s postings while at SeAL Team Six was in Beruit where he witnessed the destruction of the Marine barracks. The situation in the Middle East is something he’s knowledgeable and passionate about. In this op-ed, discusses the situation from the perspective of his experience on the ground in the region.
Benghazi and Why it Matters
It has taken more than four weeks, but the facts of the assault on the American consulate in Benghazi are slowly emerging. It is now known that on the evening of September 11, 2012, Ambassador Christopher Stevens conducted a scheduled meeting with a Turkish diplomat. At approximately 8:30 PM, the ambassador saw his visitor out the gate. There were no protesters in front of the consulate then, nor did any of the survivors of the attack report the presence of demonstrators prior to the initial assault. Videotapes recovered from the compound show, at least partially, what happened.
At 9:40 PM, rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons tore into the front of the compound. Inside the consulate, American security personnel immediately contacted the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, as well as the State Department Crisis Desk in Washington, informing both locations that they were under attack. Per standing orders, Ambassador Stevens and diplomat Sean Smith were placed in a safe room in the ambassador’s residence. Within minutes, an outbuilding housing a Libyan security force was on fire, and the militiamen assigned to protect the compound had melted away into the night.
Incoming RPG and machinegun fire became so heavy that the security officers were forced to retreat and barricade themselves into a command center adjacent to the Ambassador’s residence. Now holed up in separate buildings, the Americans were surrounded. The situation would rapidly go from bad to worse. The consulate summoned a U.S. quick reaction force stationed in a security compound across town. Accompanied by sixty Libyan security guards, four American agents set out in an armored SUV to break the siege. Before they could reach the compound, terrorists had forced their way into both of the consulate’s residential buildings. Failing to break through the locked grate work that protected Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith, the assaulters splashed diesel fuel and set the building on fire. Smoke and flames rapidly filled the residence.
American and Libyan security personnel were eventually able to fight their way in and establish a shaky perimeter. Crawling on hands and knees, rescuers entered the smoke-clogged building in an attempt to reach Stevens and Smith. The Ambassador’s body was located and dragged from the flames— he was unresponsive and succumbed to smoke inhalation on scene. Under increasingly heavy gunfire, the Americans were forced to abandon the effort to recover the body of Sean Smith. Gathering the survivors, the rescuers placed Ambassador Stevens’ body into the armored SUV and began an arduous journey back to the security compound. After forcing their way through the ring of gunmen who had encircled the consulate, the vehicle was ambushed repeatedly. Pocked by bullets, and with two tires flattened by a grenade attack, the SUV managed to reach the relative safety of the security compound sometime after 11 PM. This location, too, came under attack, enduring several hours of mortar, RPG and heavy machinegun fire until the terrorist force withdrew shortly before dawn.
In addition to Ambassador Stevens and State Department information specialist Sean Smith, two ex-Navy SEALs, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, were killed in the attack. Another of the American rescuers, also a special operations veteran, was severely wounded. Videos posted later on Islamic websites showed the body of one of the American victims being dragged from the building amid chants of God is great. The ugly footage showed a bullet riddled, smoke-streaked building, torn by explosions and thoroughly looted.
Days after the attack, America’s ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, made the rounds of the Sunday Morning news programs, stating that the Benghazi consulate was burned during an anti-American demonstration. The State Department, and presumably the White House, were by then in possession of the basic facts of the incident, and knew, from communications sent directly from Benghazi and Tripoli, that the attack was a terrorist action involving heavy weapons and mortars. Why then was the administration pushing a story of mob action? What was to be gained from concealing the true circumstances of the incident?
It is now known that in the weeks prior to the attack, the United States State Department not only saw fit to reduce security for the consulate, but refused repeated requests by Ambassador Stevens and Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom for fences, transportation assets, and special operations forces to augment security. Nordstrom has since testified to congressional investigators that he was ordered to reduce its American security footprint and to rely more on local forces to defend the American consulate. Nordstrom and other security officers in Libya were told to make do with less. The results of this policy were catastrophic. The militiamen detailed to guard the American Ambassador’s residence fled in the first minutes of the raid— leaving Christopher Stevens and his two-man security detail vulnerable. That al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri released a video on September 10th, urging Libyans to attack American targets can hardly be ignored. The failure of the State Department to head this explicit warning and protect our ambassador to Libya is at best negligent, and at worst shows a capricious misunderstanding of the facts on the ground.
In the days following the attack, the White House put forward a story that was incompletely informed, if not disingenuous. That the White House deliberately misstated the circumstances surrounding the death of four American citizens is simply too shameful to consider. The September 11th assault on the Benghazi consulate is the single worst attack on an American diplomatic post since the Tehran embassy siege in 1979. The American people deserve a full and open investigation into the murder of Ambassador Stevens. They deserve also to know about the gallant actions of the brave Americans who tried to meet this terrorist attack with woefully inadequate resources.
Benghazi matters both for what happened on that terrible night, and what happened afterwards.
In two fascinating extended interviews, Chuck, in the days before publication of the expanded paperback edition of SEAL Target Geronimo, discusses the new information about the raid that killed Bin Laden. Speaking separately with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien and on John Hockenberry’s The Take-Away, Chuck discussed new insights gained from his extensive additional research into the raid, including information gleaned from Pakistani investigations and material recovered from Bin Laden’s compound. This research contributed to three new and two extended chapters in the paperback edition of SEAL Target Geronimo. Chuck also discusses No Easy Day, the account of the raid by a Navy SEAL who participated.
Listen and Watch the full audio and video clips.
This link includes the full video clip of the interview with Soledad O’Brien on August 24, 2012.
This link includes the full audio interview with John Hockenberry.
After watching the former Navy SeAL who claims he shot Bin Laden interviewed on 60 minutes, Chuck Pfarrer, based on his extensive knowledge of the raid, came to the conclusion that Matt Bissonnette could not have been on the initial raid. He made that pronouncement to Neil W. McCabe of Human Events. The article includes detailed schematics of the helicopter crash trajectory and the layout of the compound, which Pfarrer says contradict Bissonnette’s account of events. Pfarrer says those and other inconsistencies in Bissonnette’s interview, and in Bissonnette’s book No Easy Day, leave him “unconvinced” that Bissonnette was part of the first strike team.
Read the full article, an exclusive interview released September 10, 2012, here.
Seal Target Geronimo comes out in an extensively expanded paperback edition, Tuesday, September 11, 2012. Even if you have the hardcover version, this one is worth a buy. Three new chapters and two more greatly expanded ones cover new and detailed information, much of it from previously classified sources and resulting from author Chuck Pfarrer’s extensive research in the year since the raid. Information came from newly declassified documents captured in the raid and processed by the Counter Terrorism Center at West Point. Key to the new chapters was the independent investigation conducted by Pakistani Brigadeer General (Ret) Shukat Qadir, who interviewed military and ISI personnel as well as debriefing eyewitness and undertaking a guided tour of the bin Laden residence hours after the raid.
The new material includes detailed information on:
- Bin Laden’s exact locations for the ten years he was on the run in Pakistan and the locations and travel patterns of Bin Laden’s wives and children during the same period.
- The locations of Ayman Zawahiri and Mullah Omar.
- An analysis of declassified papers taken by ST6 from Abbottabad
- Al Qaeda’s planned attack on the Pakistani nuclear weapons facility at Kahuta
- Al Qaeda’s plan to use poison gas in Yemen (from a letter dated six days before OBL’s death)
- Information taken from an independent Pakistani investigation of the raid to include previously unknown details of CIA’s pre-mission reconnaissance
- The code name of Dr. Shekel Afridi’s CIA controller and details about the “Hepatitis Screening Program” that eventually located Bin Laden
- New details about Al Qaeda’s kidnapping of an Iranian diplomat to trade for Khairee bin Laden (Wife #1) who was being held in Tehran and details of Bin Laden’s detailed planning for the transfer of his wife after the prisoner exchange with the Iranians.
- New details on CIA’s phone call to the compound two nights before the raid
- Information obtained during Pakistan’s nearly year long interrogation of Bin Laden’s surviving wives and children
- Information from the Pakistani first responders who entered the compound only minutes after the helicopters left.
- Connecting the dots on who the US closed in after the arrival of Khairee bin Laden, as well as the capture of Bali Bomber Umer Patik in Abbottabad a mere four months prior to the raid
- Eye witness testimony about the raid from Osama Bin Laden’s widows and children, as well as Pakistani neighbors who saw the entire raid.
- Confirmation from eye witnesses who saw the helicopter crash, confirming it happened in the middle of the operation and not at the beginning.
- Details about Pakistani fighters who were scrambled and nearly shot down the US helicopters as they retreated.
- More details about the “special access” granted to filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal who are completing a film about the hunt for Bin Laden. This information is confirmed by Freedom of Information Act requests that show DoD and White House emails confirming that the two SONY Studios filmmakers were give the names of ST6 operators unlawfully.
And there is much more, including information that following the November 2011 “Border Incident” in which US Special Operations Forces killed 20 Pakistani soldiers, Pakistan moved surface to air missiles to the Afghan Border. The source for this information was Pakistani and all of it has been cross-referenced.
It’s fascinating stuff and offers even more insight into what happened before the raid, during the raid and as a result of the raid. Pre-order your paperback or e-book version today.
Tonight at 9p/12a ET, Sean Hannity sits down with a panel of experts to discuss the one-year anniversary of bin Laden’s death and whether President Obama has politicized and used it as a weapon in his re-election campaign.
The Insider offers a preview with an interview of a few of Hannity’s guests in the green room to find out what they think of how the president’s handled the anniversary, and whether they believe the U.S. is really any safer now that bin Laden’s gone. Read the rest of the Insider interview here.
The show airs May 4, 2012 on Hannity 9p/12a ET.
Delivered through 90-minute presentations, the Speaker Series seeks to engage the student body, the campus community, and area residents in current political issues, trigger productive debate and produce a more educated electorate.
Here’s a rare chance to meet Chuck and get a personally autographed copy of SEAL Target Geronimo. Between interviews and consulting engagements, Chuck doesn’t have much time to make appearances, but he’ll be in Las Vegas all this week for The Shot Show. From Tuesday, January 17 to Friday, January 20th, he’ll be appearing with The Mako Group in Booth 20043. In informal appearances from 10AM to 2PM, Chuck will be autographing copies of his New York Times best-seller, SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama Bin Laden. The profits from all book sales will be donated to the Navy League Warrior Foundation to help wounded and disabled warriors and their families. It’s all for a good cause and, if you can get Chuck on a raconteur bent, it’ll be something you won’t forget.
One of the more controversial aspects of SEAL Target Geronimo is proving to be his contention that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq. While not the majority opinion, the theory is not just Chucks. Perhaps it’s time to review an article Chuck wrote back in 2008. Chuck’s article in The Counter Terrorist Magazine makes a case for the existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq both before and after the U.S. invasion. This extensively researched and annotated article was well-received by the readers of a magazine that calls itself “America’s premier informational journal for law enforcement, intelligence and special operations professionals”. In other words, such a controversial theory couldn’t face a tougher audience than Chuck’s peers in counter terrorism.
SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama Bin Laden is climbing up various bestseller lists — with a bullet! Publisher’s Weekly, as released Thursday, November 17, ranks Geronimo at Number 8 in the Hardcover Non-Fiction category. That’s ahead of Catherine the Great and nipping at the heels of Condoleezza Rice. Pretty interesting company!
Even more exciting is the New York Times Bestsellers list. It should be noted that this famous list is always published a week or so after the fact. So the official release date for the list reflecting sales this week is November 27. But advance notice has SEAL Target Geronimo in these pole positions:
#7, New York Times, Hardcover Nonfiction, dated 11/27/11
#2, New York Times, Nonfiction E-Book, dated 11/27/11
#5, New York Times, Nonfiction Combined Hardcover & E-Book, dated 11/27/11
#8, New York Times, Nonfiction Combined Hardcover & Paperback, dated 11/27/11
Thanks to everyone who bought the book. In an age when it seems we don’t often have a lot of unambiguous heroes, the SEALs who completed this mission clearly fill that bill admirably. And your humble Webmistress can espouse that thought even as the daughter of a West Pointer and career Army officer. (Go Army! Beat Navy!)
It’s turning out that one of the more controversial aspects of SEAL Target Geronimo is Chuck’s contention that there were indeed Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in Iraq. While not the most popular theory, Chuck is by no means the only person to espouse it. Scroll through the partial bibliography for SEAL Target Geronimo posted here at Chuck’s Recommended Links. You’ll see sources as diverse and respected as The New York Times, The Telegraph (UK), the USAF Institute for National Security Studies, The United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, George Washington University, BBC World News, The Washington Post and Richard Clarke. Read the links and references and form your own opinion.
Again, find a partial bibliography for SEAL Target Geronimo with links here.
(Image above is from this New York Times article, showing a suspected Syrian nuclear site that appears to have been “cleansed”. The article is one of those cited in Chuck’s bibliography.)