Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By Nancy A. Youssef
CAIRO — CBS on Friday retracted its account of what took place last year at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, a stunning setback for its venerated “60 Minutes” news show that underscored another reality: Fourteen months after jihadists stormed the complex and a nearby CIA compound – killing four Americans, including the ambassador – there’s still no accepted narrative of what happened.
The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, is seen in flames on Sept. 11, 2012, after armed gunmen attacked the compound.
FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2013 file photo, "60 Minutes" reporter Lara Logan takes part in a panel discussion at the Showtime Winter TCA Tour in Pasadena, Calif. CBS says it was misled by a "60 Minutes" source who claimed he was on the scene of a 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, when it turns out now that he was not there. Logan on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013 said that CBS apologizes to viewers and will issue a correction to its Oct. 27 story Sunday on "60 Minutes." (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
It was security contractor Dylan Davies’ unheard account of the events of Sept. 11, 2012, that made the “60 Minutes” piece a journalistic sensation after what the news program said was a yearlong investigation. That account differed dramatically from what other reporters and witnesses had said about that night, and it prompted Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to threaten to block all White House appointments until the Obama administration released notes from the interviews the FBI conducted with survivors of the attack to congressional investigators.
TOLD DIFFERENT STORY TO FBI
In the end, however, Davies’ claims to “60 Minutes” that he’d jumped a 12-foot wall to get into the compound, where he clubbed an attacker in the head with the butt of his rifle, were undone by statements he’d given to the FBI two days after the assault. Those indicated he’d been nowhere near the compound when the attack took place, which matched a report Davies had given his bosses at the Blue Mountain security company – a document that somehow escaped the notice of “60 Minutes” investigators.
Other parts of his “60 Minutes” account didn’t match published reports of what happened that night. For example, Davies claimed he’d sneaked into the Benghazi Medical Center and spotted the body of Ambassador Christopher Stevens lying on a gurney. The doctor who treated Stevens, however, had told McClatchy that no Westerners arrived to pick up the ambassador’s body until 6 a.m. Sept. 12, more than six hours after Libyans had taken the unconscious Stevens to the facility.
Davies’ statement to the FBI two days after the attack said he’d learned of Stevens’ death on Sept. 12, around the time when Libyans and Americans confirmed it.
CBS REPORTER APOLOGIZES
On Friday, CBS correspondent Lara Logan, whose 15-minute “60 Minutes” piece aired Sunday, appeared on the network’s “This Morning” and apologized for the piece, saying Davies was no longer credible. Logan said she was misled, adding: “We made a mistake.”
She said she didn’t know about the FBI incident report until after her piece aired, but she offered no explanation for how it had escaped notice. CBS had removed the story from the “60 Minutes” website and apps overnight.
“What we know now is he told the FBI a different story to what he told us,” Logan said. “That was the moment for us when we realized that we no longer had confidence in our source and we were wrong to put him on air, and we apologize to our viewers.”
The retraction fueled already-looming questions over the events of that night and raised mounting concerns among some about whether what happened will ever truly be known – and whether those involved will be prosecuted.
Within hours of the attacks, which marked the first death of a U.S. ambassador on the job since 1979, they became fodder for opponents of the Obama administration, leading to scrutiny of every word uttered about them. Republicans in Congress have called the lack of a clear narrative evidence of a cover-up.
“And where are the survivors?” Graham asked on Fox News last week. “Fourteen months later, the people who survived the attack in Benghazi have not been made available to the U.S. Congress for oversight purposes. So I’m going to block every appointment in the United States Senate until the survivors are made available to Congress.”
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U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens is seen in this undated U.S. State Department photo in Washington. Stevens and three other embassy staff were killed in a rocket attack on their car in Benghazi, a Libyan official said, as they were rushed from a consular building stormed by militants denouncing a U.S.-made film insulting the Prophet Mohammad. REUTERS/US State Department/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS OBITUARY) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - RTR37VKO