Two men from an American security company allege Hillary Clinton's State Department pressured them to remain silent about security lapses that led to the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens, foreign service officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALS Ty Woods and Glenn Doherty.
Brad Owens and Jerry Torres of Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, which provides security for American embassy and consulate personnel in locations from Africa and the Middle East to South America, accused a previous contractor hired by the State Department to provide security in Libya of hiring locals connected to radical Islamic terrorist organizations - and suggested the State Department covered it up.
In the spring of 2012, Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions bid on a contract to provide security for diplomatic personnel in Libya. Instead, the State Department awarded the contract to an innocuous Welsh security firm, The Blue Mountain Group, which had never held a diplomatic security contract.
"Blue Mountain U.K. is a teeny, tiny, little security company registered in Wales that had never had a diplomatic security contract, had never done any high threat contracts anywhere else in the world that we've been able to find, much less in high threat areas for the U.S. government," Owens said. "They had a few guys on the ground."
After securing the $9.2 million contract, an anonymous source said Blue Mountain used local newspaper ads to assemble a team of 20 guards, many of whom had ties to radical Islamic terror groups.
"The guards who were hired were locals who were part of the Ansar al-Sharia and Al Qaeda groups operating in Benghazi," said the source, whose assignment in Benghazi had ended in November 2011. "Whoever approved contracts at the State Department hired Blue Mountain Group and then allowed Blue Mountain Group to hire local Libyans who were not vetted."
Torres and his company were asked to return to Libya, but did not arrive in time to prevent the attack.
Many of the guards hired by Blue Mountain directly took part in the attack on the Benghazi compound.
"Many of the local Libyans who attacked the consulate on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, were the actual guards that the State Department under Hillary Clinton hired to protect the Consulate in Benghazi," said John Tiegen, a CIA contractor who responded to the attack.
As Obama and Clinton struggled to craft a coherent narrative, State Department contracting officer Jan Visintainer summoned Torres from overseas to attend a meeting at her office in Rosslyn, Virginia in early 2013.
"[Visintainer] said that I and people from Torres should not speak to the media, should not speak to any officials with respect to the Benghazi program," he said.
Visintainer further suggested "in her opinion, that guards should not be armed at U.S. embassies. She just made that blanket statement. … And she said that they weren't required in Benghazi. So I was kind of confused about that. And she said that she would like my support in saying that if that came up. And I looked at her. I just didn't respond."
After refusing to perpetuate the Obama administration's narrative about the attack, Torres and Owens said their company has faced repercussions that continue to this day – with 18 of the 20 security contracts they bid on since that conversation rejected.