The Cable

The Cable goes inside the foreign policy machine, from Foggy Bottom to Turtle Bay, the White House to Embassy Row.

Murdered ex-SEAL’s mother frustrated by pace of Benghazi investigation

The mother of Tyrone Woods, one of the two former Navy SEALs killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the Benghazi consulate, is speaking out about the slow pace of the investigation into the death of her son and three other Americans. "Don’t want to ever politicize the loss of my son in Libya, but ...

Getty Images
Getty Images

The mother of Tyrone Woods, one of the two former Navy SEALs killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the Benghazi consulate, is speaking out about the slow pace of the investigation into the death of her son and three other Americans.

"Don’t want to ever politicize the loss of my son in Libya, but it has been 16 days and the FBI has yet to get to Benghazi to begin their investigation," Woods’s mother Cheryl Croft Bennett wrote on her Facebook page Thursday. "Apparently they have made it to Tripoli but haven’t been allowed to enter Benghazi. Meanwhile, the diplomatic outpost where Tyrone and [former SEAL] Glen [Doherty] died, was not and is not secured. Absolutely unacceptable."

Bennett was apparently referring to reports by CNN and other outlets noting that the FBI team sent to investigate the Benghazi assault has yet to arrive in the city, and the consulate remains unguarded.

Bennett has been using her Facebook page to disseminate information about the Benghazi attack and talk about her son Tyrone, who was killed in the second wave of the firefight at an "annex" that some reports have called a "safe house" about half a mile from the main consulate building. 

The mission personnel fled to the annex when the main consulate building was set on fire, but the attackers either followed them there or already knew the location. They attacked the annex early in the morning as a security team tried to evacuate the personnel.

State Department official Sean Smith died in the fire during the initial attack, according to officials briefing reporters the next day, and Amb. Chris Stevens was lost in the fire and was later returned to U.S. personnel dead. Woods and Doherty were killed in the firefight at the annex, according to official reports.

In an earlier Facebook post on Sept. 22, Bennett wrote that the Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed to her that Woods died on Sept. 12, not Sept. 11, which matches the official account because the annex fight occurred after midnight. Bennett was originally told that Woods had died on Sept. 11 and she was not notified of her son’s death until Sept. 13, she wrote.

"As you can probably understand, it is important to me and to Ty’s family to know when he left us," Bennett wrote.

In a Sept. 17 Facebook post, Bennett wrote extensively about the Sept. 14 "transfer of remains" ceremony she attended when the bodies of Woods and the three other American victims were handed over to their families in a hanger at Andrews Air Force Base.

"The entire afternoon was overpowering and unreal. Little did I know that I would find myself in a reception room being comforted, hugged, and, yes, even kissed by the President of the United States. Along with the President, there was Vice-President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and General and Mrs. Colin Powell. They were all wonderful. They held my hand, offered condolences, gave warm hugs, and were extremely compassionate and genuinely sad for my loss, as I fought back tears and tried to project an image of strength to honor my SEAL son," Bennett wrote.

"Each of them commended Tyrone for his courage, his bravery, and his ultimate sacrifice for his country. While squeezing Secretary Clinton’s hand and choking back tears, I told her that what worried me was that my son died possibly thinking that he had failed in the mission he was to carry out, that of protecting Ambassador Stevens and the people in the compound"

"Looking me firmly in the eye, she told me that my son did not fail. She called him a hero and that if not for him, the 30 people inside the consulate would not have made it out. He was doing his job, fighting for his life, putting others ahead of his own safety, but then that was his job, which he did well."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

Tag: Libya