The Cable

Murdered ex-SEAL’s mother frustrated by pace of Benghazi investigation

The mother of Tyrone Woods, one of the two former Navy SEALs killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the Benghazi consulate, is speaking out about the slow pace of the investigation into the death of her son and three other Americans.

"Don't want to ever politicize the loss of my son in Libya, but it has been 16 days and the FBI has yet to get to Benghazi to begin their investigation," Woods's mother Cheryl Croft Bennett wrote on her Facebook page Thursday. "Apparently they have made it to Tripoli but haven't been allowed to enter Benghazi. Meanwhile, the diplomatic outpost where Tyrone and [former SEAL] Glen [Doherty] died, was not and is not secured. Absolutely unacceptable."

Bennett was apparently referring to reports by CNN and other outlets noting that the FBI team sent to investigate the Benghazi assault has yet to arrive in the city, and the consulate remains unguarded.

Bennett has been using her Facebook page to disseminate information about the Benghazi attack and talk about her son Tyrone, who was killed in the second wave of the firefight at an "annex" that some reports have called a "safe house" about half a mile from the main consulate building. 

The mission personnel fled to the annex when the main consulate building was set on fire, but the attackers either followed them there or already knew the location. They attacked the annex early in the morning as a security team tried to evacuate the personnel.

State Department official Sean Smith died in the fire during the initial attack, according to officials briefing reporters the next day, and Amb. Chris Stevens was lost in the fire and was later returned to U.S. personnel dead. Woods and Doherty were killed in the firefight at the annex, according to official reports.

In an earlier Facebook post on Sept. 22, Bennett wrote that the Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed to her that Woods died on Sept. 12, not Sept. 11, which matches the official account because the annex fight occurred after midnight. Bennett was originally told that Woods had died on Sept. 11 and she was not notified of her son's death until Sept. 13, she wrote.

"As you can probably understand, it is important to me and to Ty's family to know when he left us," Bennett wrote.

In a Sept. 17 Facebook post, Bennett wrote extensively about the Sept. 14 "transfer of remains" ceremony she attended when the bodies of Woods and the three other American victims were handed over to their families in a hanger at Andrews Air Force Base.

"The entire afternoon was overpowering and unreal. Little did I know that I would find myself in a reception room being comforted, hugged, and, yes, even kissed by the President of the United States. Along with the President, there was Vice-President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and General and Mrs. Colin Powell. They were all wonderful. They held my hand, offered condolences, gave warm hugs, and were extremely compassionate and genuinely sad for my loss, as I fought back tears and tried to project an image of strength to honor my SEAL son," Bennett wrote.

"Each of them commended Tyrone for his courage, his bravery, and his ultimate sacrifice for his country. While squeezing Secretary Clinton's hand and choking back tears, I told her that what worried me was that my son died possibly thinking that he had failed in the mission he was to carry out, that of protecting Ambassador Stevens and the people in the compound"

"Looking me firmly in the eye, she told me that my son did not fail. She called him a hero and that if not for him, the 30 people inside the consulate would not have made it out. He was doing his job, fighting for his life, putting others ahead of his own safety, but then that was his job, which he did well."

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The Cable

Entire Senate Foreign Relations Committee calls for more info on embassy attacks

All 19 members of the Senate Foreign Relations committee wrote to Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides Friday to request more answers and another administration briefing on the wave of anti-American attacks that took place earlier this month, including the Sept. 11 assault in Benghazi that killed Amb. Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

"Please expand the accounting of the attacks against U.S. missions in Egypt, Libya and Yemen beginning on Sept. 11, 2012, to include attacks that took place at any U.S. missions from Sept. 11-13, 2012," the committee member wrote in the letter, obtained by The Cable, referencing attacks on the U.S. embassies in Sudan, Tunisia, and Pakistan, among others.

The senators want to know not only if security at these various missions was adequate, but what steps the host governments took to protect the U.S. missions during the attacks. They also want to know if there was proper intelligence-sharing between those governments and the U.S. government and whether security is tight enough at U.S. missions in dangerous places that were not attacked this month.

The letter was organized by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and represents a follow-up and expansion on Kerry's Sept. 17 letter to Nides, reported by The Cable Thursday.

Kerry appears to be balancing between demanding answers about the administration's handling of the Sept. 11 events and defending the Obama team from escalating Republican criticism, fueled by daily revelations in the conservative and mainstream media.

On MSNBC Friday, the Massachusetts senator lamented that some Republicans and the Romney campaign have been quick to attack the Obama administration's response to the Benghazi attacks. "All they can do is see the politics in this," he said.

The committee wants a briefing on all these questions the week of Nov. 13, when the Senate is expected to next be in session, even if the FBI investigation and the State Department's Accountability Review Board aren't finished by then. The presidential election is one week earlier -- Nov. 6.

"We recognize that many of the matters may still be under analysis and investigation at that time, but given the importance of these issues to all committee members, even an interim response would be particularly helpful and much appreciated," the senators wrote.