By Josh Garrison:
For many Americans, this year’s political climate has been too much. It has become overly evident just how divisive the rift between the left and the right has become. For most, these differences are divided along socioeconomic borders or with our countries borders, but for a select few this battle is personal.
For over a decade a small group of battle hardened, silent warriors have been able to do their job as it should be, covertly. However, twice in their history they have had their three letters plastered all over the news, and twice the letters HRC has had a daunting role in their outcomes.
After ‘9/11’ the days of conventional espionage took a hard right turn into the world of paramilitary operations. Cloaks and daggers had to be traded in for body armor and an M-4. Unfortunately, the majority of the “spies” had the necessary “soft skills” to do their jobs, but lacked the “hard skills” to operate in warzones where they could be under direct attack, vice more traditional counter surveillance. With this the conventional “spy” lacked the ability to talk “green” or communicate with military forces in the battle space. The CIA recognized this void and created a small element referred to simply as the Global Response Staff or GRS.
GRS was created by recruiting special operations veterans returning from multiple deployments to the Middle East and giving them training on the soft skills needed for covert operations, while refining their hard skills and then returning them to the battle space to bridge the gap between conventional spying and collecting actionable intelligence in warzones.
I was privileged to work as one of these operators for over ten years and 40 plus deployments. During this time I was the proverbial fly on the wall for the global war on terror. I sat in on meetings with warlords, conducted surveillance, picked up assets, and provided security escorts for everyone from POTUS to our plumber. After thousands of these missions in the most hostile places on earth, every single person I ever left the wire with, I brought home in one piece. That can be said of every other GRS agent too. We are batting an average of .998 . Why .998? Because only twice in the history of GRS has the world even known GRS existed and twice HRC has been HMFIC (Helpless Misguided Failure in Charge).
The first incident took place in Lahore, Pakistan in 2011. I had the displeasure of serving in Lahore in 2007, and of my 40 plus deployments I promise you it was the worst of the hells that I walked into. Lahore is a powder keg of Pashtuns just waiting to explode. To redefine your idea of “radical Islam” I watched riots for days almost destroy the city because they passed a law making it illegal to throw acid in your wife’s face (it had been legal until 2007). Anyhow, take a population the size of New York City, radicalize it, throw on some Burkas and set it in Phoenix… that’s Lahore.
Now that you have the scene burned into your face, let’s meet Ray “Tombstone” Davis. I had the pleasure of serving with Ray on multiple deployments and always relied on him as a capable, competent, GRS agent. He was a family man and quite competent at both HALO and Call of Duty on Xbox (a GRS requirement I forgot to mention earlier). On January 27th, 2011, Ray was out driving the streets of Lahore trying to learn his way around one of the most complex road networks on earth when two armed men on a motorcycle basically tried to “carjack” him. Unfortunately for Faizan and Faheem (true names) they picked the wrong white boy to mess with. Ray shot and killed both men from his James Bond like Honda Civic, took a couple of snapshots on his phone so he could check his grouping later and fled. Unfortunately, as is always the case in Lahore, he hit a traffic jam and was apprehended before his fellow agents could arrive to help.
Now if this had happened in Atlanta, Ray would have been sleeping in his own bed that night but that wasn’t the case. Ray was in Pakistan, and unfortunately Hillary Rodham Clinton was Secretary of State so it would be many, many days until Ray laid his head down on anything other than the floor of a Pakistani jail cell.
If the devil himself was found guilty of every crime he ever committed, they wouldn’t sentence him to a Pakistani prison, but there sat Ray Davis, a patriot, risking his ass for America, arrested for defending himself, and subsequently held in one of the worst prisons in Pakistan. For 48 days Ray sat in Kot Lakhpat prison in a country that we provided 3.5 billion dollars in aid to that year. Just to make that number a little more digestible that’s 9.5 million dollars a day. Why did Ray sit there for 48 days? One answer, because Hillary Rodham Clinton was Secretary of State.
Diplomacy is defined by Webster as “the art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations.” Why then, in this case, were negotiations even necessary given the fact that we provide Pakistan with military hardware and significant monetary aid? This should have been a simple phone call and a hand shake, but instead it turned into 48 days of negotiation. The result: the U.S. paid the families of Faizan and Faheem each between 1.5 and 3 million dollars as diyat, a Sharia Law that states as long as you pay the family enough money then murder is okay. I don’t hold a PHD in international law, but this sounds much more like negotiating with terrorists than diplomacy. Luckily Ray made it home, but unfortunately this wouldn’t be the last chapter for GRS and HRC.
Unfortunately for freedom, 2011 unleashed the Arab Spring. Secretary Clinton was quoted as saying “we must embrace the Arab Spring despite it’s dangers.” These dangers were all too real but in keeping with her word (for once) she kept her promise and it’s dangers. To the untrained eye the fall of Gaddafi probably seemed like a good thing. To the trained eye when the full story came out that Gaddafi’s captors violated his corpse things didn’t seem so blissful.
As with most of the countries that revolted during the Arab Spring, Libya fell into civil war. Much like Iraq, this left a vacuum in a country previously controlled by a maniacal dictator up for grabs. This left huge caches of weapons, capable of heinous acts, in the hand of radical rebels. As was the case in many countries across the region, the CIA brought in GRS to help stabilize the situation. 11 years after ‘9/11’ their mission would change.
Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was visiting the Benghazi Consulate on 9/11/2012. According to official reports, there was a peaceful protest outside the embassy in response to the video “Innocence of Muslims.” For the sake of politics lets go with this for now. At 9:40 peaceful protestors attacked the U.S. Consulate resulting in the death of Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith. Due to the overwhelming force of the peaceful protestors, the DSS Agents (Diplomatic Security Special Agents) called the only help in the area, GRS.
If you saw the movie 13 Hours I’m sure you remember the scene, GRS repeatedly being told to stand down. I don’t doubt this for a second, particularly given the culture in which they operate. Still, when push came to shove, the operators made the right decision and went anyways. These brave Americans went to the rescue of an Embassy, that they weren’t there to protect, to save American lives. After leaving the Consulate, the ‘peaceful protestors’ followed GRS back to the CIA Annex where the fighting continued for the next 13 hours resulting in the death of two GRS Agents; Ty Woods and Glen Doherty.
So why did Ambassador Stevens and FS Smith die? Likely due to a failure of Secretary Clinton to provide adequate security for her people on the ground in Libya. Why did GRS agents Woods and Doherty die? Because of a complete failure of the administration to recognize threats even in the most hostile of environments and her blatant denial to send any kind of support for the people she put there.
This year’s election is divided but one thing is clear. In two cases where simple decisions had major negative consequences, she failed. When it’s personal she has shown us just how she will choose. I will choose too.
Josh Garrison is an OpsLens Contributor with over 50 combined deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Josh is a Purple Heart recipient who served operationally in varied roles with a U.S. Army Long Range Surveillance Unit and other government agencies involved in intelligence and counterterrorism missions.