As Hillary Clinton and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle today praised the heroism of the four Americans who died in Benghazi in 2012, the family of one of the fallen CIA contractors continues to fight to receive his death benefits and a national honor that was proposed for the contractors two-and-a-half years ago.
The family of ex-Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, who was killed along with fellow ex-SEAL Tyrone Woods, U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and State Department technical specialist Sean Smith, has lobbied the U.S. government since Doherty’s death to receive financial benefits. Friends and family said Doherty did not realize that the benefits package he agreed to as a CIA contractor would not allow anyone in his family to receive financial support upon his death since he was not married and had no children.
The military website SOFREP.com, run by Doherty’s friend and former SEAL Brandon Webb, reported Wednesday that the CIA is proposing to unilaterally pay benefits to Doherty’s family, and that the Senate Intelligence Committee is currently considering that option. A U.S. official confirmed the broad strokes of the plan before Senate Intelligence Committee to ABC News today.
A spokesperson for the committee would only tell ABC News that the matter “has been settled,” and “as it’s classified, I have no details to share.”
Becca Watkins, Communications Director for Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., told ABC News Burr is "working to ensure that the families of those who serve will get the support they deserve from the government their loved ones pledged to protect."
Watkins went on to say that the committee has been working with "the agency," presumably the CIA, to "identify the legal and regulatory authorities that support the [CIA] Director's decision, and believe[s] recent updates provided by the agency set it on the path to deliver benefits to the families of those who have made the greatest sacrifice for our country."
Amy Carnivale, an attorney representing the Doherty family, said the family has not been contacted by the committee or by the CIA today.
“I keep hearing Congress say that the Benghazi investigation is all about bringing justice to the families of the four Americans killed in Libya. It’s been three years since Glen was killed, and the Doherty family is still waiting for the government to fully honor Glen’s service,” Webb said.
Apart from the financial support, the families of Doherty and Woods are also still waiting on lawmakers to decide whether or not to pass legislation awarding the contractors with the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest honors bestowed in the country.
When a group of lawmakers first introduced the bill in early 2013 Doherty’s sister told ABC News it would be “awesome” to see her brother so recognized.
“For me, it’s not only about what Glen [Doherty] and Ty [Woods] did the night of Sept. 11 , but about how they lived their lives selflessly on and off the battlefield that makes them so deserving,” Kate Quigley said in March 2013. “I would just love to know who would vote ‘No.’”
The Congressional Gold Medal, which was created to recognize "historical events and outstanding achievements by individuals or institutions," has been awarded a diverse group of 150 people since 1776, including George Washington, Neil Armstrong and Jackie Robinson, according to a 2012 Congressional report.
The medal has previously been given to "acclaimed lifesavers," as "Congress has still periodically expressed its own admiration for acts of heroism." It was also awarded to the "Fallen Heroes of 9/11" in "honor of the men and women who perished as a result of the terrorist attacks..."
Two-and-a-half years later, Quigley still waiting and it doesn’t appear anyone had to vote “No” at all. The legislators just had to stall.
The original bill, introduced in March 2013 by California Republican and former Marine Rep. Duncan Hunter, died of inaction before even making it to the House floor. Its sister bill in the Senate introduced a few months later suffered the same fate.
Hunter’s bill had picked up 55 co-sponsors, 39 Republicans and 16 Democrats, before it suffered an undignified death, never making it out of the House Committee on Financial Services.
Greg Doherty, Glen’s brother, said he never understood what happened.
“I know a bunch of people signed on, but I guess not enough,” he told ABC News today. “Just the mysteries of the process I guess.”
According to Joe Kasper, a spokesperson for Hunter’s office, the bill floundered after facing resistance from the Financial Services Committee, where lawmakers brought up a series of bureaucratic objections.
“Everyone knows what they [Doherty and Woods] did was truly extraordinary and heroic,” Kasper said. “Surely if they were still active duty military, they would’ve gotten their awards by now.”
The lawmakers aren’t done yet, however. Rep. Ryan Zinke, a Montana Republican and a former Navy SEAL, introduced a new version of the bill this May, extending the proposed Gold Medal to Stevens and Smith as well.
“On Sept. 11, 2012 America lost four patriots, and in the Navy SEALs we lost two brothers. This tribute is long overdue,” Zinke said the day he introduced the bill. “Honoring Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods with Congressional Gold Medals should not be about politics; it’s about paying respect and homage to American patriots who served our nation honorably in some of our darkest hours.”
Since May, Zinke’s bill has picked up 57 co-sponsors, 48 Republicans and nine Democrats, but it hasn’t moved since it too was delivered to the House Financial Services Committee. A spokesperson for the committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this report.