Exclusive: Benghazi Whistleblower Says He Was Smeared
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Reblogged from: http://www.thedailybeast.com
A leaked memo appears to undermine significant details in a new book from a witness to the embassy attacks. But its alleged author tells The Daily Beast he didn’t write it. Plus, new pictures from the compound.
The Benghazi whistleblower whose new book details massive security failures in the run-up to the September 11, 2012 attacks denies he wrote an incident report made public this week that undermines key details in his memoir.
The debate over the Obama administration’s actions before and after the attack on the U.S. mission was reignited following an Oct. 27 60 Minutes report featuring an interview with Morgan Jones, a pseudonym for a British security contractor who trained and advised the local Libyan guard force for the U.S. mission in Benghazi. Jones’s book, The Embassy House, was released two days later and contains a firsthand account of his time in Benghazi and his actions during the series of attacks that resulted in the death of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.
Controversy over Jones’s interview and book reached a high pitch on Oct. 31 when The Washington Postpublished details of an incident report allegedly written by Jones that contradicts the account in his book and reveals his real name, Dylan Davies.
The four-page indicent report, obtained by The Daily Beast, has not been previously published. A State Department official confirmed it matches the version sent to the U.S. government by Davies’s then-employer Blue Mountain Group, the private security company based in Britain, on Sept. 14, 2012, and subsequently provided to Congressional committees investigating the Benghazi attacks.
In an interview Saturday with The Daily Beast, Davies said he did not write the incident report, nor had he ever seen it.
“I am just a little man against some big people here,” Davies said. “They can do things, make up things, anything they want, I wouldn’t stand a chance.” Davies said he did not know who leaked the report to the Post but said he suspected it was the State Department, an allegation that could not be independently corroborated. “It would not be difficult to do,” Davies said. “I knew I was going to come in for a lot of flack and you know mud slinging, so yeah I’d say it was them, but I can’t be sure.”
The State Department has declined to comment on Jones’s book or his 60 Minutes interview.
The Blue Mountain Group incident report is written in the first person in the voice of Davies. The version of the document obtained by The Daily Beast is not signed by anyone. It contains two stamps at the top: one of the Blue Mountain Group and one that reads “Embassy of the United States of America.”
The incident report differs from the version of events told in Davies’s book The Embassy House and by Davies in his 60 Minutes interview in several significant ways. It also differs from the accounts that Davies gave to the FBI and various other U.S. agencies in the wake of the attack, Davies said.
Both Davies’s book and his 60 Minutes interview have Davies and his driver attempting to drive to the U.S. mission in Benghazi from Davies’s villa about 30 minutes after the initial attack on the compound began but failing to reach the compound due to roadblocks set up by a local jihadist militia known as Ansar al-Sharia.
But the incident report states that Davies then returned to his villa, rather than traveling to the hospital as he claims in the book. In the report, Davies learned of the ambassador’s death from a Blue Mountain Group guard who had gone to the hospital and taken a photo of the ambassador’s body. In the book, however, Davies recounts in detail his trip to the hospital where he saw the body himself.
In the report, Davies remained at his villa until the next morning, when he visited the ruins that remained of the compound. In the book, Davies tells a harrowing tale of his late-night visit to the compound, where he claims he scaled a 12-foot-wall, killed an extremist with the butt of his rifle, saw that the compound had been totally destroyed, and then escaped and returned to his villa.
Each account has Davies visiting the compound the morning of Sept. 12, during which he took 25 photos of the burnt-out buildings. (Click here to see nine of the photos.)
In his interview with The Daily Beast, Davies said the version of the events contained in the incident report matched what he told his supervisor, called “Robert” in his book, who is a top Blue Mountain Group executive. Davies said he lied to Robert about his actions that night because he did not want his supervisor to know he had disobeyed his orders to stay at his villa.
The Daily Beast has redacted the true name of Robert out of his concern for his privacy.
“He told me under no circumstances was I to go up there. I respected him so much I did not want him to know that I had not listened to him,” said Davies, referring to Robert. “I have not seen him since.”
Davies also wrote in his book that Robert had instructed him not to go to the compound under any circumstances. Davies called Robert after going to the hospital, he said, but before his first visit to the compound on the night of Sept. 11. Davies says he told Robert the ambassador was dead but did not tell him what he was up to.
“He was my boss, but more important, he was a father figure and a man of unrivaled experience,” Davies wrote about Robert in the book. “Robert presumed I was still in the villa. I’d chosen not to tell him that I was in a car with two of my guards driving away from the hospital.”
In his interview with The Daily Beast, Davies said in addition to writing the book, he was interviewed by a team of U.S. officials from various agencies, including the FBI and the State Department, via a conference call when he arrived in Doha, Qatar, shortly after the attacks. Davies said he also discussed the events in Benghazi with FBI and State Department officials who interviewed him in person Sept. 21 at his home in Wales. These accounts, Davies said, match the ones in his memoir and interview with 60 Minutes.
Davies was angry that his real name was published by The Washington Post and was not redacted in the Blue Mountain Group incident report leaked to the media, even though the report redacted other names. “It means I won’t work in the industry again and I can be tracked down pretty quickly with that name,” he said.
Damien Lewis, who co-authored The Embassy House with Davies, said in a statement to The Daily Beast Saturday that the leak that included the real identity of Morgan Jones “is deeply disturbing.” Lewis continued, “To deliberately leak his real name means those who may wish to do him harm now have access to his real identity. This is unconscionable.”
Davies said he believed there was a coordinated campaign to smear him. This week, Media Matters, a progressive media watchdog, sent a public letter to CBS News asking it to retract the 60 Minutes Benghazi piece on the basis of the Washington Post article. On the Fox News Channel, reporter Adam Housley claimed on air this week that Davies asked for money in exchange for an interview. Davies denied this charge. 60 Minutes has stood by its reporting.
“These questions have been looked into ad nauseam for months and months and months by a range of independent officials and boards,” State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psakisaid onOct. 28. “I’m not going to speak to every interview that’s done.” A State Department official speaking on background also downplayed the 60 Minutes Benghazi report. “We don’t have any validation of his story, he wasn’t identified as the person he was,” the official said, referring to Davies. “There honestly wasn’t a great deal new in there.”
All of this comes for Davies at a challenging time for him personally. Last week he underwent medical procedures for what his doctors believe is testicular cancer. “If I have to get another bollock chopped off, then so be it,” Davies said.
But despite his recent medical problems, Davies said he has a message to the person he believes deliberately outed him to the press. “If you want to let me know who you are because you’ve told everybody who I am, I would like to meet you,” he said.
Executives at Blue Mountain Group, including Robert, did not respond to emails requesting comment.
Eli Lake is the senior national-security correspondent for The Daily Beast. He previously covered national security and intelligence for The Washington Times. Lake has also been a contributing editor at The New Republic since 2008 and covered diplomacy, intelligence, and the military for the late New York Sun. He has lived in Cairo and traveled to war zones in Sudan, Iraq, and Gaza. He is one of the few journalists to report from all three members of President Bush’s axis of evil: Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.