Three security operators responsible for guarding the CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, were held back from immediately responding on the night of the deadly 2012 attacks, insisting top CIA officers ordered them to "stand down" and wait before going to the U.S. Consulate on September 11, three of those involved told Fox News' Bret Baier on Thursday's "Special Report." This failure to act prevented them from saving Ambassador Christopher Stevens' life as well as the lives of three others, they said.
The claim, made in a new book titled "13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi," is supported by their first-hand account on a Fox News special, airing Friday night at 10 p.m. (EDT), which provides a controversial new twist to what the Obama administration has deemed an "old story."
For the first time, a vivid, compelling narrative of events has been revealed from the perspective of the men wearing the "boots on the ground," without any of the political spin that has surrounded the Benghazi issue.
"Was help delayed?" questioned Baier, Fox News' Chief Political Anchor, on one of the most controversial questions arising from the events in Benghazi, to the Annex Security Team contractors -- Kris ("Tanto") Paronto, Mark ("Oz") Geist, and John ("Tig") Tiegen.
"If you guys do not get here, we are going to die!" a diplomatic security agent shouted over the radio just after 9:30 p.m. on September 11, 2012, the commandos say in their new book, according to the New York Times.
Within moments, the team, comprised of former members of American Special Forces units and hired as private contractors, was ready to deploy and move to the diplomatic compound, a mere mile away.
"Five minutes, we're ready," Paronto, a former Army Ranger, told Fox News. "It was thumbs up, thumbs up - we're ready to go."
However, according to the team, a top CIA officer in Benghazi, who they refer to as "Bob," ordered them to "stand down."
"It had probably been 15 minutes, I think, and ... I just said, 'Hey, you know, we gotta - we need to get over there. We're losing the initiative,'" said Tiegen. "And Bob just looks straight at me and said, 'Stand down, you need to wait.'"
"We're starting to get calls from the State Department guys, saying, 'Hey, we're taking fire, we need you guys here, we need help,'" Paronto continued.
Finally, after 30 minutes of waiting, the team said they deployed, in defiance of the order, the Times reported.
When asked if they would have been able to save Stevens and Navy SEAL Sean Smith had they not been delayed in getting to the consulate, Paronto responded, "Yes, they would still be alive."
However, a senior intelligence official told Fox News that, "There were no orders to anybody to stand down in providing support." But the commandos adamantly denied that claim, insisting to Fox News the order was given.
"You use the words 'stand down,'" host Bret Baier said. "A number of people now, including the House Intelligence Committee, insist no one was hindered from responding to the situation at the compound...so what do you say to that?"
"No, it happened," Tiegen responded.
"It happened on the ground. All I can talk about is what happened on that ground that night," Paronto. "To us. To myself, twice, and to Tig, once. It happened that night. We were told to wait, stand - and stand down. We were delayed three times."
In a statement to Fox News, a senior intelligence official did allow that the security team was delayed from responding while the CIA's top officer in Benghazi tried to rally local support.
Additionally, when Baier referenced to the infamous anti-Muslim YouTube video the President, the Secretary of State and White House officials blamed for the violence in Benghazi, Paronto claimed he wasn't even made aware of the video until he was out of Libya and on his way home. "I didn't know about the video 'till I got to Germany," he said. "(I had) no idea about any video, no. No, sir."
Earlier this year, testimony from nine military officers appeared to undermine assertions from Republican lawmakers that a "stand down" order was given, the Blaze reported.
In the meantime, the full, first-hand account of what really happened in Benghazi can be seen when Fox News airs "13 hours at Benghazi: The Inside Story" Friday night 10 p.m. (EDT), Saturday at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. (EDT), and Sunday at 9 p.m. (EDT).
The new book "13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi" by Mitchell Zuckoff is scheduled to release next week.