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Benghazi survivor told Fox News he wanted to 'choke' Obama over 'wild conspiracy' comments

Kris Paronto is shown giving an interview at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016.

PAUL MOSELEY/FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM/TNS

By ALEX HORTON | The Washington Post | Published: September 11, 2018

Six years ago Tuesday, Islamic militants laid siege to the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. Kris "Tanto" Paronto was there that night.

Paronto, a former Army Ranger turned security contractor and author, repelled attacks on a nearby CIA annex and helped rescue more than 20 people, according to his biography page, during an attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

The political fallout from the attack again became a topic of conversation during a speech Friday by former president Barack Obama, who said Republicans have seized on a number of "wild conspiracy theories like those surrounding Benghazi."

It is unclear what theories Obama was describing. But Paronto took his grievances to "Fox and Friends" on Sunday to discuss Obama's comments, making statements that have drawn the attention of the Secret Service.

"It just raises the bile inside of me . . . and when that came across, I just wanted to reach through the screen and just grab him grab him and choke him," Paronto said. He later said with a clap: "I wish I had that man sitting in front of me right now without his Secret Service."

Host Pete Hegseth cautioned Paronto on his choice of words. "Well, be careful with that because he's a former president," he said.

"Yeah, I know," Paronto responded. "But it doesn't get yourself away from saying comments when my friends died in front of me."

The Secret Service is aware of Paronto's comments, spokesman Mason Brayman said Monday but declined to elaborate.

"While we do not confirm or comment on the absence or existence of specific investigations we can say that we investigate all threats against our protectees," Brayman said in a statement to The Washington Post on Monday.

Paronto and his spokeswoman did not return comment.

In the attack, militants killed Stevens and two former Navy SEALs turned CIA security contractors, Glen Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods.

Both men were killed by a mortar strike on a rooftop, the agency said. Sean Smith, a State Department staffer, also died in the attack.

Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton drew intense criticism from Republicans for years over the incident and the response to the attack.

Critics have pointed to the Obama administration's changing story about the motivation of the attackers. Both the CIA and Clinton variously attributed it to a protest against an anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube and a planned terrorist attack. The latter version turned out to be true.

A final, two-year report from House Republicans in 2016 found fault with numerous decisions in the executive branch but did not provide evidence of specific wrongdoing by Clinton.

In June, militia leader Ahmed Abu Khattala, who helped plan the attack and was later captured by U.S. Special Operations troops, was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison.

The Washington Post's Karen DeYoung contributed to this report.
 

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