A preview by Benghazi security officer Kris “Tanto” Paronto of 13 Hours, the block-buster Michael Bay film that premieres on Thursday, raises dramatic new questions about the refusal by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to authorize a military rescue of the besieged U.S. diplomatic facility and the nearby CIA Annex on Sept 11-12, 2012.
In a presentation at a conference organized by the Maryland Citizen Action Network last weekend, Paronto revealed that two AC-130H “Spectre” gunships were “on call” that night, both within range of Benghazi.
One of them was a six-hour flight away, co-located with a U.S. special operations team in Djibouti.
The other was at Naval Air Station Sigonella, in Sicily. “That’s a 45-minute flight,” Paronto said.
The Spectre gunship with its 25mm rapid-fire gatling guns, its 40 mm precision Bofors gun, and its 105mm canon is “good in urban warfare because you have little collateral damage,” Paronto explained.
In fact, it was just what the beleaguered security team needed. They could see the jihadis advancing on the Annex compound throughout the night and lit them up with lasers, which the airborne crew could have used for precision targeting purposes. On-line videos of the Spectre gunship in operation show that it can walk its cannons up narrow streets, killing fighters while leaving the surrounding buildings intact and people inside them unharmed.
“I asked for the Spectre and ISR [an armed Predator drone] at 9:37 pm,” Paronto said, certain that the attacks actually started at 9:32 pm local time, not 9:42 pm as previously reported. “At midnight, they told us they were still working on getting us that Spectre gunship. Not that it was not available, but that they were still working on it.”
And there were more forces immediately available for a rescue effort, in particular, the European Command (EUCOM) Commander’s In-Extremis Force, which was then on a counter-terrorism training mission in Croatia, a 3 hour flight from Benghazi.