WASHINGTON — In a “60 Minutes” report last Sunday, the British supervisor of security guards protecting the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, provided a harrowing account of the extremist attack that killed four Americans.
The man whom CBS called Morgan Jones, a pseudonym, described racing to the Benghazi compound while the attack was under way, scaling a 12-foot wall and downing an extremist with the butt end of a rifle as he tried in vain to rescue the besieged Americans.
The “60 Minutes” broadcast, in which Jones also recounted his clandestine visit that night to a Benghazi hospital to view the body of slain U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, helped propel a new round of partisan conflict last week over the attack.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, and other Republican lawmakers referred to it repeatedly during a Wednesday news conference. Graham said he would block confirmation of all of President Obama’s nominees, including Jeh Johnson as homeland-security secretary and Janet Yellen as head of the Federal Reserve, until the administration allowed government witnesses to the attack to appear before Congress.
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But in a written account that Jones, whose real name was confirmed as Dylan Davies by several officials who worked with him in Benghazi, provided to his employer three days after the attack, he told a different story of his experiences that night.
In Davies’ 2 ½ -page incident report to Blue Mountain, the Britain-based contractor hired by the State Department to handle perimeter security at the compound, he wrote that he spent most of that night at his Benghazi beach-side villa. Although he attempted to get to the compound, he wrote: “We could not get anywhere near … as roadblocks had been set up.”
He learned of Stevens’ death, Davies wrote, when a Libyan colleague who had been at the hospital came to the villa to show him a cellphone picture of the ambassador’s corpse. Davies wrote that he visited the still-smoking compound the next day to view and photograph the destruction.
The State Department and GOP congressional aides confirmed that Davies’ Sept. 14, 2012, report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, was included among tens of thousands of documents turned over to lawmakers by the State Department this year.
Davies’ book on the attack, “The Embassy House,” by “Sergeant Morgan Jones,” was published last week and largely comports with the “60 minutes” account. It says he served 14 years in the British military before becoming a private security contractor.
A person answering the telephone at Blue Mountain, based in Wales, said no one was available to discuss Benghazi or Davies, who no longer worked there.
Damien Lewis, co-author of the book, said in a telephone interview that Davies was “not well” and is hospitalized. Lewis said he was unaware that the Blue Mountain incident report existed but suggested Davies might have dissembled in it because his superiors, whom he contacted by telephone once he was told the attack was under way, told him to stay away from the compound.
“All I can presume, and again I’m speculating, is that his boss told him to stay in the villa and not go anywhere. So he would have penned a report and said he had done what was ordered,” Lewis said.
Kevin Tedesco, a spokesman for “60 Minutes,” said: “We stand firmly by the story we broadcast last Sunday.”
Administration officials seized on the discrepancies to again criticize GOP zeal in pursuing the Benghazi incident.
“The people who were injured and the families of those who died are owed an apology” by Davies and “60 Minutes,” said a senior administration official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. “There were real heroes that night, including the quick response team that actually got into the U.S. compound and saved lives. Davies was, according to his own after-action report, not one of them.”
Republican aides said discrepancies in Davies’ accounts do not undermine wider points made by him and others in the broadcast and hammered on by GOP lawmakers for the past year: that al-Qaida-linked forces were known to be rampant in Benghazi and the administration ignored warnings that the compound was not secure; that the White House and the State Department lied in their initial accounts of the incident; and that the administration has impeded congressional investigation of the security lapse.