The walls are closing in on Dylan Davies (a.k.a. "Morgan Jones), the British security contractor whose dramatic "eyewitness" account of the 2012 Benghazi attacks featured prominently in a controversial CBS 60 Minutes report. Now that government officials have stated that Davies told the FBI he was nowhere near the diplomatic compound on the night of the attack (consistent with the after-action report Jones filed with his employer, which Jones disavows), CBS News has withdrawn the report and correspondent Lara Logan apologized on-air for making "a mistake."
CBS News, of course, still has a multitude of questions to answer, but so too does Threshold Editions, the imprint of the Simon & Schuster publishing company (owned by CBS) that released Davies' book, The Embassy House: The Explosive Eyewitness Account of the Libyan Embassy Siege by the Soldier Who Was There.
In the book, Davies describes the two trips he made to the diplomatic compound in Benghazi the night of the attacks: an aborted first attempt in which Davies and a Libyan associate were turned away at gunpoint from the compound's rear gate by a terrorist; and a one-man incursion into the compound after the initial attack subsided, in which Davies dramatically bashes a terrorist in the face with the butt of a scavenged AK-47. In between the two trips, Davies writes he traveled to the Benghazi Medical Center where he discovered the body of Ambassador Chris Stevens and was the first person to confirm that the ambassador had been killed.
Much of Davies' narrative would have been difficult or impossible to confirm (a red flag in and of itself), but there are details of his story that could have -- should have -- been confirmed by fact-checkers at Threshold.
Upon discovering Ambassador Stevens' body at the Benghazi Medical Center, Davies claims that the first person he told was "Robert," his supervisor at the Welsh security contracting firm Blue Mountain. "He was my boss," Davies writes, "but more important, he was a father figure and a man of unrivaled experience. Plus I knew we could converse in Welsh, so that if anyone was listening in they wouldn't have a clue what we were on about. 'Listen, it is one hundred percent confirmed that Ambassador Stevens is dead,' I blurted out, just as soon as he'd answered. 'The U.S. ambassador has been killed.'" Davies also writes that his Libyan associate snapped a photo of Stevens' body and that he told "Robert" he'd send him that photo.
Did Threshold contact "Robert" to confirm this that conversation took place? Did they ask if "Robert" had indeed received that photo?
The Text Message
After his conversation with "Robert," Davies writes, he "sent a text message to every American I could think of -- a bunch of RSOs, special operations forces guys, and other assorted operators -- alerting them to the shattering news: Confirmed: your No. 1 guy is in the 1200-bed Hospital, dead. Priority get your people there now to retrieve him." Davies writes that no one responded to him.
Did Threshold ask Davies to identify the people who received this text message? Did they attempt to contact any of these people?
Upon arriving at the hospital, Davies writes, he and his Libyan associate ran into an unnamed doctor who led them to Ambassador Stevens' body and subsequently interrogated the two of them to see if they knew who the dead American was. By Davies' account, the doctor was one of a team of physicians that tried to resuscitate Stevens upon his arrival at the hospital. (Davies also contradicts himself later in the book on whether this doctor said Stevens arrived conscious or unconscious.)
Did Threshold try to track down the doctor Davies said he talked to, or anyone at the hospital?
Over the course of the night, Davies writes, he was assisted at key points by three Libyan associates, identified as "Massoud," "Zahid," and "Hamid." "Massoud," according to Davies, drove him to and from the diplomatic compound for his first, failed attempt to get inside, and later lent Davies his pistol. "Zahid" accompanied Davies during his trip to the hospital and is supposed to have snapped the cell phone photo of Ambassador Stevens' body. "Hamid" did the driving for the second trip to and from the compound.
Did Threshold attempt to contact the Libyans Davies says assisted him that night to confirm the roles he claimed they played?
Again, the details of Davies' narrative are difficult to confirm, but given how sensational and, frankly, incredible Davies' story is, Threshold Editions should have made at least some effort to nail down what details they could prior to publication.