The family of Glen Doherty, a CIA contractor killed in the 2012 Benghazi attack, will receive nearly half a million dollars from the spy agency under a newly-revealed program to provide “enhanced death benefits” to those working with the Agency who were killed in the line of duty since the early 1980s, according to the Doherty family and U.S. officials.
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Doherty, a former Navy SEAL, was among the four Americans killed in the Sept. 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya. Doherty had life insurance, but friends and family said he didn’t realize it only covered a spouse and children -- neither of which he had. The family has been pressuring the government to expand Doherty’s benefits, and has gained support from members of Congress, who introduced legislation designed to ensure they receive financial benefits.
Instead, the CIA said today it would unilaterally provide “enhanced death benefits” for employees and contractors “killed overseas in the performance of duty and as a result of acts of terrorism” going back to the Beirut bombing in 1983. The benefits include a life insurance payout up to $400,000, additional salary-based funds and educational assistance.
In addition to the Dohertys, “dozens of families” will now receive the new benefits, according to K&L Gates, a law firm that represents the Doherty family. Tyrone Woods, a fellow CIA contractor and former SEAL who was killed alongside Doherty in Benghazi, had a wife and child. They would have been eligible for death benefits, but the new program will provide additional financial assistance.
Kate Quigley, Doherty's sister, said the family was “thrilled” when they got the call from the CIA on Monday – not just because of what it means for their family, but for the families of all the others who will be helped through the program.
“We’ve been waiting for this day a long time,” she said.
Quigley told ABC News she personally sat in CIA Director John Brennan’s office in 2014, after a star was etched on the CIA’s Memorial Wall for her brother, “looked him in the eyes” and urged him to “try and figure out a way to make this work.”
“And so now, two-plus years later, the fact that he really took that to heart and not only figured it out for our family, but now we know there are so many other people that are affected in similar ways, it’s just bigger and better than we ever could have imagined,” she said. “It’s just money and it’s never going to make it right or bring [them] back, but the idea of a gesture from the agency that they worked for saying, ‘We value our contractors and they’re important to us’… is something that obviously I’ve fought for.”
Just weeks before his death, Doherty told ABC News he was working in Libya to round up dangerous heavy weapons that had been looted during the nation’s 2011 revolution. He was in Tripoli when the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi began. As the situation deteriorated, Doherty organized and led a team of special operators to Benghazi by air to help protect Americans there. Woods was already in Benghazi at the time of the attack. He and his fellow security contractors fought off Islamic extremists both at the diplomatic compound and nearby CIA annex all night, saving countless lives.
“We will never forget the sacrifice Glen Doherty made defending our nation, and this benefit for the Doherty family honors that courage and service,” Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said in a written statement. “It is only right that the Doherty family and all the families who’ve lost loved ones oversees are fully compensated and honored for their heroism... I thank the CIA for honoring Glen Doherty, who served our nation so bravely, with the benefits that his family deserves.”
U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and State Department computer specialist Sean Smith were also killed in the Benghazi attack.
Quigley said her next "mission" is to see all four Benghazi victims recognized with the Congressional Gold Medal, legislation for which is currently making its way through the House and the Senate.
“This is all for Glen,” she said. “This is why we did it and persevered. It’s a fitting legacy.”
This report was updated April 21, 2016.