The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Private Military Contractor Gives Inside Account of Events at Benghazi

Photo by Via Creative Commons

Private military contractor gives account of Benghazi.

Kris “Tanto” Paronto, co-author of the book “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi” and Private Military Contractor who was involved in the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012, will take Rudder stage on Thursday October 6 to present his firsthand account of what truly happened on the ground that day in Benghazi.

Paronto will retell the events that occurred when an Islamic militant group attacked an American compound in the North African city of Benghazi.

“This program is meant to inform Texas A&M students about the facts on the ground and to take out all of the media bias about what happened in Benghazi, allowing students to form their own opinions and to be informed by somebody who was actually there,”  said Morgan Anderson, Chair of MSC SCONA and graduate student in the Bush School of Government. “[Students] can then go into the election season, or enter a conversation with their friends and family, and fully understand the facts. They can base their opinions on the facts.”

 MSC SCONA will host the seminar to recount the events and give audience members a greater understanding and new perspective on the Benghazi attacks, separate from political and media bias.

 “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi” was published Sept. 9, 2014 followed by the film “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” which was released in the United States Jan. 15, 2016.

To steer away from cinematic drama and media bias, Travis Askew, Director of Programming for MSC SCONA and graduate student, said MSC SCONA called upon Paronto to give the Texas A&M community a firsthand account of the attacks in Benghazi.

“There’s often a lot of misunderstanding about what actually happened. It’s a lot more complicated than just an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. There was a lot more that went down outside of that that people don’t understand and are really crucial to this story. To understand those details is really important in understanding the Benghazi attacks as a whole…I think this will be a great opportunity for students to hear, firsthand, what actually happened, instead of having to hear it through a biased media source of through politics,” said Askew.

 MSC SCONA specializes in highlighting national affairs by creating events that are accessible students. The student organization decided to invite Paronto to the university, because of the prominently-mentioned Benghazi attacks in the media and current political sphere, according to Askew, there is a lot of interest in the matter.

 “We started off with asking ‘What kind of issue did [MSC SCONA] want to address this year?’ We decided that something that was being contested in the media was the Benghazi attacks. We wanted to bring someone to Texas A&M that could provide a clarifying view regarding [the attacks].

 MSC SCONA considered bringing in members of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), people at compounds in Libya and military contractors, finally deciding on Paronto, according to Anderson.

“The reason we chose Tanto as the specific contractor was because of his willingness to speak about the issue in an outright manner that is easy to understand and that’s very personable and engaging,” Anderson said.

According to Askew, Paronto emulates Texas A&M’s core values, such as leadership, selfless service and excellence.

“We are hoping that the program gives [students] and inspirational story about what it means to truly demonstrate the characteristics and core values we hold as students. He demonstrates those values, clearly, through what he’s done. We are hoping that students will be able to see that through this program,” said Askew.

To begin the program, MSC SCONA will introduce Paronto, and then he will discuss the timeline of events that he encountered. To conclude the program, the floor will be opened up for questions.

Although the question is currently prominent in the media, the political issue of 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s involvement in the attacks of Benghazi, or any political biases, will not be a focus of the seminar, according to Anderson and Askew.

“The goal of the [program] is to show what actually happened and not to cast blame on individuals, but to show there was a failure of government to protect people,” said Askew.

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