The Associated Press states “No ‘stand down order’ in Benghazi.” Wrong! There are two fields of play here.
First and foremost are the U.S. forces under the command of AFICOM (which included F-16 out of Italy), and those of Carrier Strike Group Three operating with USS Stennis in the Mediterranean. Second is the small cadre of a SpecOps team of four people located in Tripoli for which the AP article was addressing.
Upon confirmation that the ambassador was not kidnapped as planned, but was killed, the cover-up commenced. The president then talked by phone with Clinton. Following this phone call — as U.S. military forces were preparing to assist in the defense or rescue at Benghazi — the “stand down” order was transmitted. An admiral and general were immediately relieved of command because of their plans to offer aid.
From the declassified report from the House Armed Services Committee and Subcommittee on Oversight Investigations, there was lengthy discussion over the terms used for that small cadre of SpecOps folks at Tripoli. The AP article uses the term “remain in place,” whereas the official report refers to the terms “stay” and “dress down” when referring to the transport of the response team as reinforcements by air to Benghazi.
I could not find in the Accountability Review Board report or the HASC or Oversight report where the order to “stand down” was discounted as stated by the Associated Press.