Author Archives: Don Kesterson

The 1918 Influenza Pandemic – Spanish Flu

A little over one hundred years ago, during World War I, the world was thrust into a flu pandemic. It was named the Spanish Flu yet it didn’t originate there. Spain did have a massive outbreak including their King Alfonso XII. It got its name sake because Spain, was not blacked out for news, due to World War I, like other European countries.

Unlike what the world is experiencing today, where we know that Wuhan, China is where the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak started, in 1918, there is questions where? Some suggest it started in the United States, some in Europe, while others still say Asia. But one thing was for sure, within six months it was world-wide. It was believed to have spread from the seaports, loading docks into the inner cities.

While exact figures are still unknown, an estimated five hundred million (500,000,000)  humans contracted the flu, including six hundred-seventy-five thousand (675,000) in the United States. Over the course of the pandemic, deaths from the flu world-wide ranged from twenty million (20,000,000)  to one hundred million (100,000,000). If it was the later, then that would represent three percent (3%) of the world’s population died due to the flu and complications.  Much of the spread was attributed to the war due to the fact so many military personnel were shoulder to shoulder traveling and fighting.

In the United States, just a little more than a year after Woodrow Wilson, agreed to send troops to Europe in World War I, there was a major outbreak at Camp Funston in Fort Riley, Kansas, with one hundred coming down with the flu. Within a week that number increased four-fold. In May 1918, U.S. soldiers were crammed together on boats going to Europe to fight. In September 1918, there was another outbreak at two military installations in the Boston, Massachusetts area. The flu was so contagious that six days after the first case there were six thousand, six hundred-seventy-four (6,674) diagnosis. At one camp alone there were fourteen thousand (14,000) cases, with seven hundred-fifty-seven (757) deaths. Some historians claimed that the participation in World War I created a shortage of physicians and professional nurses back in the United States. Additionally, some historians claimed, while the flu virus was spreading on these military bases, they failed to use trained African American nurses. Why? In 1913, the progressive President Wilson re-segregated the military. More people died from the flu in 1918, than American soldiers were killed on the battlefield.

Starting in September through November 1918, the influenza outbreak became more deadly. First, beginning in large, densely packed population areas. When hospitals were overrun with flu patients, schools, and other large buildings were converted to make shift hospitals staffed with medical students. New York City required all flu patients to be isolated at home or in the city hospitals. Other hard hit cities were Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco. As the situation deteriorated in Chicago, they closed schools, movie houses and prohibited public gatherings, plus, called for volunteers to assist nurses with the growing number of ill. In Philadelphia, temporary morgues were set up to handle the corpses waiting to be buried. In some rural areas of the country, families were forced to bury their own family members. San Francisco required everyone to wear masks when going out in public. In October alone in the United States, an estimated one hundred ninety-five thousand (195,000) died.


Finally, the American Public Health requested the following: stores and factories stagger opening and closing hours; and, Walk to work rather than use public transportation. Some larger metropolitan areas asked their citizens to confine themselves. The illness was so devastating to the work force that businesses were shut down and crops weren’t harvested.

When World War I was over in November 1918, the demobilizing again increased the influenza, as military were again packed in like sardines on ships and sent home.

Unlike today, it took until December 1918 (more than nine months after the outbreak) before the Public Health started education programs speaking of coughing, sneezing and “nasal discharges”. Yuk.

In January 1919, there was another surge of influenza throughout the country. The case was so severe, (Please don’t laugh at what I am about to type) that the Trustees of the Boston City Hospital asked their mayor for a special funds appropriation of $3,000.00 to study the treatment of this influenza. (Honestly, this is not funny just unbelievable on so many levels.) Up until that time, no doctors or scientists had studied it or had an idea of how to treat the virus.

By late winter of 1919, the United States was starting to get this flu under control but the rest of the world was still struggling. As a matter of fact, in April 1919, President Wilson contracted the flu and collapsed, while at the Versailles Peace Conference, where the flu was still out of control in Paris.

By the summer of 1919, the Spanish flu epidemic supposedly came to a declared end. Why? Because the sick had died off, while the remaining population developed an immunity to this strand of influenza.

God Speed to the United States and the world, we are blessed that our capabilities today are so much better than one hundred years ago.

What do Michelle Obama and I have in common?

We are both releasing our books on the same day November 19. I can’t tell you a thing about her book on the other hand I can tell you a lot about mine:

Ring of Freedom is about a Vietnamese family, the Vuongs, risking everything they had to seek the freedom only offered in the United States of America.

According to a report by the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees, an estimated 250,000 died attempting to escape the communist/socialist Vietnam. My personal opinion that figure is low.

At the time, the Vuong family started their escape they were an affluent Vietnamese family, lead by the patriarch of the family Doctor Toan Tu Vuong. By their final escape attempt, they had to bury money and gold from their in-laws, turn the gold into rings to better hide and sow both the rings and money into their clothing to escape with only the clothes on their back. By this time, everything else had been stolen from them except their desire to be free. Please pick up their story on November 19.

Ring of Freedom – My latest writing project – a Memoir from a Journal

Last year, I was introduced to a story unlike anything I have ever written or contemplated. A friend of mine in Charlotte, Jack (J. C.) Lightner, told me about the family of his wife’s colleague who escaped from Communist Vietnam. Naturally, I was intrigued. As some of you know, I have been writing a series on the causes and effects of the Vietnam Conflict. This would be the best example I could’ve hoped for of the final cause and effect.

Last fall, J. C. introduced me to a family member, Dao Vuong. She gave me an overview of what her family had persevered to come to the United States. I was hooked on the story. When J.C. first discussed the project with me, the patriarch of the family, Dr. Toan Tu Vuong, had written a journal about his life, but it was in Vietnamese and he and his wife lived in New Orleans. We tabled the project until we could find someone to translate his writings. Then, by the grace of God, the family moved to Charlotte, and he translated his own writings to English. Now the project was back on, full speed. Here is the book cover:

The first of this year, the translated journal was provided to me in a MS Word document. Dr. Vuong’s journal covered his life from a young child in Vietnam until late in his professional career in the United States. After discussing with several of my trusted advisors on how to convert a journal to a memoir, I started. As I do when writing historical fiction, I used actual historical events to build the timeline of the story around. To provide different perspective and to add more detail to the story, I interviewed the five adult children as well as Toan’s wife Nha-Y, her sister, and a close family friend.

I read the first chapter at my writers group and received some tremendous input. They suggested a radical change to hook you, the reader, on the Vuong’s determination to come to the United States.

The memoir begins just before the fall of South Vietnam to the Communists and follows the family—and their personal trials and tribulations—as they arrive in the United States. It continuously shows the sacrifices Toan and Nha-Y made for the betterment of their children.

The end of the book includes biographies of each family members to show that despite the dramatic events they endured (as detailed in the memoir), all of them achieved at the highest levels.

I invite you to pick up this memoir and experience the Vuong family’s journey as they come to the United States to be free. A pre-sale will be available soon, and I will keep everyone posted for a release date.



Kindle Sales for The President’s Gold – Novel

Just wanted to follow up on my last blog. For those of you who were so kind as to purchase my novel The President’s Gold, thank you, so much. For the record, due to the herculean effort of my PR firm, they drove the kindle sales to “Number 1” for the day in one category, “Number 2” in another category and TOP TEN in a third category. I couldn’t have done it without you, the readers and PR firm.

I have one more request. If you have read it, would you be so kind as to post a review on the Amazon webpage for the novel. It would be greatly appreciated. If we can get those badly needed reviews, Amazon treats novels and books with a higher regard and they will appear in searches, not previously seen. It makes sense, if readers are posting positive reviews then they assume more readers will likely enjoy reading my historical novels, which of course I agree.

Needless to say it will also help drive sales, other’s will get to experience, the “history unlike anything you have been taught in school. The real history of the world”.

Also, if you liked The President’s Gold, I suggest purchasing Gold of the Spirits, it is the prequel to The President’s Gold. I am starting a special deal new week on Gold of the Spirits for $0.99 kindle version.

And for those of you waiting to see what happened to Frank Young and Rosalita Laurel, I am making excellent progress on writing the final in that series, Tarnished Gold. Again, here is the first chapter.


History Channel Series – Lost Gold of World War II

On Tuesday, March 19, at 10 p.m. EDT, The History Channel is starting a new series on the gold the Japanese stole during World War II and buried in the Philippines. The series, Lost Gold of World War II, is about a Filipino family who believes gold is buried on their property and wants answers.

In October 2018, a Filipino here in the U.S. working with the team in the Philippines contacted me to unlock some of the unknowns or correct some of the inaccuracies of the story behind the gold. The first thing I asked was how they found me—and why me? They had seen the documentary a London production team put together for Myth Hunter’s regarding “Yamashita’s gold,”, which focused on the plight of Rogelio Roxas and the Golden Buddha. I learned several of the other experts regarding this “Lost Gold” have since passed away. Which leaves me as one of the few experts of the overall story still alive and willing to participate in their series.

On December 3 of last year, the young Filipino and the History Channel film team showed up at my residence to get to the bottom of these stories. We spent most of the day in a question and answer session regarding from what countries the gold was stolen, who was in charge of burying and documenting the gold, and why it was brought to the Philippines. The next round of questions revolved around whether any of the gold had been recovered.

When the filming was completed, the production team informed me the series would likely start in March of this year. A couple of weeks ago, a friend called and asked if I knew anything about a series called Lost Gold of World War II. Naturally, I replied yes, I’m in it. The next morning, I sent an email to the producer, who confirmed the series was starting on March 19, and I would show up in episode 7 or 8. Here is a preview of the series:

I was surprised to learn no one in the production team or the Filipino knew anything about my novels, The President’s Gold ( or Gold of the Spirits ( They said they would read them to fill in more detail than I was able to give them in their one-day visit. I cautioned them the Filipino family to be very careful, as pursuit of this buried gold was very dangerous. They left wishing they had more time for questions and answers, as some of my answers led them toward questions they had not even pondered for their Gold series.

Be sure to watch this series and let me know what you think.The President's Gold

Special Sale of The President’s Gold & Preview new novel in the Gold Series

For those of you who enjoyed reading The President’s Gold, I wish to advise you that I have started writing the sequel, Tarnished Gold. For those of you who have not had the pleasure, the first two novels of the Gold Series, as well as the final one, are all historically accurate, based on my detailed research, beginning after the Japanese buried the gold in the Philippines and covering the roles of Yamashita, the Yakuza, the CIA, Marcos, and Santa Romana’s recovery of the gold. All these novels, including Tarnished Gold, which picks up two months after the end of The President’s Gold, are historical thrillers. In the Gold Series, as well as all my other novels, I drop several characters into the historically accurate timeline to give the reader an up-close-and-personal feel for the story as it plays out. The President's Gold

My research into the buried gold in the Philippines led me to two expert appearances in television documentaries related to recovered gold. In those interviews, I relate roles of both individuals in the Philippines and leaders in the United States.

While I am currently deep in writing the journal of a Vietnamese family that escaped Vietnam, the main characters in the Gold Series, Frank and Rosalita, have been pestering me to finish their story. That comment will only make sense to you if you are a writer. Characters get in your head and the talk to you. (No, adult beverages and schizophrenia have nothing to do with it. Most likely?)

Tarnished Gold has been outlined and partially written for several years. Besides finishing the Frank and Rosalita story, it also finishes the story of the two rosaries. If you’ve been reading the Gold Series you know who currently possesses each rosary and what larger story they tell. The rosary portion is part of the true story of the Gold Series.

When I finished my outline and drafted the story, I realized that I needed to develop one of my characters, Tao, who had several cameos in The President’s Gold, as I was planning a bigger role for him in Tarnished Gold. Since he was Vietnamese, I decided to write a novel on Vietnam, called Pawns, which led to another series of novels. I wanted those who follow my novels to understand who he is and know about his past that drives him. Unfortunately, it took me away from a timely finish of the Gold Series, but now it’s time.

So yes, to answer the question on some of your minds, I am writing two manuscripts at the same time, while the bulk of my time is devoted to the Vietnamese family escape, which should be finished in about a month. Lately, I have been known to sneak over and do a little writing on Tarnished Gold. As a matter of fact, in the next couple of days, I will be posting a finished version of the first chapter of that book.

If the Gold Series intrigues you and you have not read it, I am going to run a special starting on July 10th on The President’s Gold for those of you looking for something to read while enjoying your Summer vacation. I promise you this novel is full of fireworks.

Below is the hyperlink to Tarnished Gold Chapter One – WHICH IS FREE

Tarnished Gold Chapter One

Good Morning, Vietnam

Sound Bite


Those of us who have seen the hilarious movie, Good Morning, Vietnam, starring Robin Williams, remember the title words. Sometimes they just make you laugh as you flashback to a scene from that 1987 movie. Robin Williams portrays Adrian Cronauer, a real-life DJ during the Vietnam Conflict. But, Robin Williams’ funny ad libs represented Williams more than Cronauer. While doing my research, I got off on this tangent and learned the movie’s producer and director would not let Williams meet Cronauer before the movie was finished, fearing that instead of bringing forth his natural humor, Williams would accurately portray Cronauer. You see, they had rewritten Cronauer’s  unsuccessful screenplay to take advantage of Williams’ talents.

I mention this because, as many of you know, I’m writing a series of novels on the Vietnam Conflict. My most recently completed manuscript is with an editor now. My newest project is about a real-life Vietnamese family and their escape from the Communist regime after the fall of South Vietnam. The patriarch of the family, a Vietnamese doctor, kept a journal about his life, including his family’s escape. I’m converting his family story from a journal to a memoir. I was researching local Vietnamese radio and TV stations in Saigon during that time period when I was reminded of this tidbit.

Then the next tangent: I stumbled onto was a story some of you may already know, but I was totally unaware.

Pat Sajak, famous for two things, Wheel of Fortune and working with North Myrtle Beach’s Vanna White, was a Disc Jockey in the 1960s in Vietnam. He opened his morning radio show with “Good Morning, Vietnam.” According to Sajak’s own story, he was an Army Spc. 5th class and went to Vietnam as a financial clerk. He repeatedly requested that the Army allow him to become a DJ, like he had been in the States. Finally, they relented and sent him to Saigon. Here is a link to his story in Vietnam:

Anyway, in the memoir I am working on, the project was presented by my friend and associate, Jack (J. C.) Lightner of Charlotte, North Carolina, who, like me grew up in Parkersburg/Vienna, West Virginia. He introduced me to the middle daughter of the Vietnamese family, and I was immediately wrapped up in their story. It has everything in it—failed escapes, hiding from Communist authorities, being separated during the escape, being crammed into a boat, encounters with pirates, and living in a refugee camp before arriving in America and making the most of their new lives.

While I am still researching local Vietnamese radio and TV stations for their memoir, I thought I would share some of the tangents that can drive a writer off the beaten path while seeking answers to humanize their writing.

History Channel Series – Lost Gold of World War II

On Tuesday, March 19, at 10 p.m. EDT, The History Channel is starting a new series on the gold the Japanese stole during World War II and buried in the Philippines. The series, Lost Gold of World War II, is about a Filipino family who believes gold is buried on their property and wants answers.

In October 2018, a Filipino here in the U.S. working with the team in the Philippines contacted me to unlock some of the unknowns or correct some of the inaccuracies of the story behind the gold. The first thing I asked was how they found me—and why me? They had seen the documentary a London production team put together for Myth Hunter’s regarding “Yamashita’s gold,”, which focused on the plight of Rogelio Roxas and the Golden Buddha. I learned several of the other experts regarding this “Lost Gold” have since passed away. Which leaves me as one of the few experts of the overall story still alive and willing to participate in their series.

On December 3 of last year, the young Filipino and the History Channel film team showed up at my residence to get to the bottom of these stories. We spent most of the day in a question and answer session regarding from what countries the gold was stolen, who was in charge of burying and documenting the gold, and why it was brought to the Philippines. The next round of questions revolved around whether any of the gold had been recovered.

When the filming was completed, the production team informed me the series would likely start in March of this year. A couple of weeks ago, a friend called and asked if I knew anything about a series called Lost Gold of World War II. Naturally, I replied yes, I’m in it. The next morning, I sent an email to the producer, who confirmed the series was starting on March 19, and I would show up in episode 7 or 8. Here is a preview of the series:

I was surprised to learn no one in the production team or the Filipino knew anything about my novels, The President’s Gold ( or Gold of the Spirits ( They said they would read them to fill in more detail than I was able to give them in their one-day visit. I cautioned them the Filipino family to be very careful, as pursuit of this buried gold was very dangerous. They left wishing they had more time for questions and answers, as some of my answers led them toward questions they had not even pondered for their Gold series.

Be sure to watch this series and let me know what you think.

The President's Gold

How the University of South Carolina created their sports mascot name “Gamecocks”

I wanted to write a light blog, but one still steeped in history. The mascot for the University of South Carolina is a gamecock (fighting rooster) named “Cocky.”  When asked about the mascot, I myself have used the standard line, “An ass-kicking chicken.” Since 1903, the University has used the name “Gamecock” for all its sports teams. However, the name did not come from the chicken, the gamecock, but from Brigadier General Thomas Sumter.


Who was Thomas Sumter? He was an American Revolutionary war hero—perhaps the third greatest Revolutionary War leader, behind only George Washington and Nathaniel Greene. A British General fighting in the southern colonies is said to have told his troops that Sumter fought like a gamecock, thus he was ordained with the nickname “The Carolina Gamecock.”

Thomas Sumter was born in Hanover County, Virginia, in 1734. As legend goes, Sumter was “small” in stature but “big” in fight. He enlisted in the Virginia militia, rising to the rank of officer during the French-Indian War. After that war, Sumter was selected to go out among the Cherokee people to mend the relationship with the colonists. Later, Sumter was selected to travel to London, along with several Cherokee, including their leader Ostenaco, to meet British King George III.

Prior to the American Revolution, Sumter fell into financial trouble from his travel expenses to improve relations with the Cherokee. When Virginia would not forgive his debt, he was imprisoned. A friend came to Staunton, where Sumter was incarcerated, and gave him ten guineas and a tomahawk to buy his way out of debtors prison in 1766.

Sumter moved from Virginia to Stateburg, South Carolina, just to the west of the town which would later be given his namesake, Sumter. In 1767, he married Mary Jameson. They became planters, but soon Sumter went back to his roots and raised a local militia. By February 1776,  the divide between the Colonies and the British Empire had grown, and Sumter was elected lieutenant colonel of the Second Regiment of the South Carolina Line. Soon, he became a colonel. He subsequently was appointed brigadier general, a post he held until the end of the war. Some of his early Revolutionary War battle successes included preventing the invasion of Georgia.

Sumter was part of the defense of Charleston, South Carolina, at the Battle of Sullivan Island. However, when the British conquered Charleston in 1780, Sumter escaped to North Carolina.

After British Colonel Banastre Tarleton’s raiders burned his house, Sumter organized another local militia to fight the British. Sumter had victories over the British at Catawaba and Hanging Rock (in Lancaster County). Sumter confronted and defeated Tarleton at the Battle of Blackstock’s Farm. Tarleton commented to his superiors that Sumter “fought like a gamecock.” Perhaps his greatest military achievement is fighting Cornwallis to the point of the British abandoning the Carolinas and moving their army into Virginia. Cornwallis described him as his “greatest plague.”

After the Revolutionary War, Sumter went into politics, serving in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

If some of this story sounds familiar, part of Sumter’s history (along with that of several other South Carolinians) was used by Mel Gibson to define his persona in the movie, “The Patriot.

When the fort at Charleston, South Carolina, was constructed in 1829, it was named after Sumter. The city of Sumter is sometimes referred to as “The Gamecock City,” but it is the University of South Carolina that has made his namesake famous.

Sumter passed away at the age of 97 on June 1, 1832, and was buried near his home.

BENGHAZI – Part 5 – Everyone Left Behind

Suppose just for a moment that what I am about to tell you is what really happened. Suppose for a moment it is the truth that diplomats and elites do not want you to know.

First off, it will help you to understand that the world exists at two different levels: the one the elites want us to see, hear about, and is written about by the press; the other, which exists only for elites, takes place in a different realm, where only the few live.

In order to understand what really happened at Benghazi, this is the fifth and final in a series of articles that will provide the background to the diplomatic disaster that cost the United States the lives of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Officer (IMO) Sean Smith, and CIA contractors and former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

In Libya, there was still no peace. The youth, as part of the Arab Spring Movement, turned on the National Transitional Council. There was so much division and chaos that the potential of setting up a stable government was virtually impossible. Battles brewed between local Libyans and returning members of the Libyan diaspora; between secular groups and religious ones, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood; within militia groups; and among Libya’s tribes and ethnic groups. In January 2012, new protests began in Libya against the National Transitional Council. The confrontations continued until there was basically no functioning government—at least not what the Western World wished to see following the overthrow of Gaddafi.

On April 5, 2012, Ambassador Stevens, a degreed international lawyer, arrived in Benghazi. This was not his first time in Libya. Most of his previous assignments had been in the Middle East, and he had been in and out of Libya several times, meeting with officials from all sides of the conflict. He had one very difficult mission, called OPERATION ZERO FOOTPRINT: negotiate with a radical group of rebels operating in Eastern Libya to get back the weapons NATO, the French, the British, and the United States had delivered to them, and then, once weapons were in hand, to send them to Syria. Also, he had to find the 20,000 missing MANPADS, or shoulder-held missiles capable of bringing down a commercial aircraft. The U.S. was concerned these weapons were now in the hands of the Libya element affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Special operators were part of the Global Response Staff. A CIA element, based at the CIA annex, included Glen Doherty and at least two others. They were there to protect CIA operators who were part of a mission to track and repurchase arms. On Stevens’ first mission to Libya, he worked for the Obama Administration in the CIA annex, overseeing a sophisticated weapons distribution supply chain to a variety of revolutionary terrorist groups in North Africa and the Middle East.

Soon after Stevens and his team established the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on June 25, Stevens sent a cable to the State Department advising that their compound had been attacked. He stated a “homemade bomb” had ripped a large hole in the security wall surrounding the Consulate. An Islamic extremist group, The Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman Brigade, claimed responsibility for the bombing. The “Blind Sheikh,” an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood member, was serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison for plotting to blow up bridges, tunnels and the U.N. headquarters in and around New York City.

In a later correspondence, Stevens noted he had observed the al-Qaeda flag flying over various buildings, including some government buildings in Benghazi.

At the beginning of August, the National Transition Council agreed to pass the government over to the General National Congress.

On August 8, Ambassador Stevens, while continuing his negotiations with the rebels, again expressed concerns regarding the security at the Consulate in his cable titled “The Guns of August.” On August 16, the Regional Security Officer for the Consulate complained that they would not be able to withstand a coordinated attack due to the overall size of the Consulate, compounded by inadequate manpower, slack security measures, and limited weapons capabilities. He also noted a lack of support from the new Libyan government. From this time forward, Stevens continued to request additional security, as he did not trust the security provided by Libya. His requests to the State Department were continually denied.

According to Greg Hick, State Department Station Chief in Tripoli, the State Department reduced the number of U.S. security personnel at the Embassy in Tripoli from 34 to 6, despite the deteriorating security situation in both Tripoli and Benghazi.

Because of his knowledge and experience in the Middle East, Ambassador Stevens had real reasons to worry. The Arab Spring Movement had grown across the Middle East with protests beginning in January 2011 in the countries of Oman, Yemen, Morocco, and Tunesia. However, it was Egypt that was the big prize, and, on February 11, President Hosni Mubarak resigned. In May, Mubarak was replaced by the election of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Dr. Mohammed Mursi. Additionally, Syria fell into a state of civil war.

By the time September 2012 arrived, many of the countries throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa had either changed governments or their streets were filled with protestors. Most of these events were carried out by various factions of the Muslim Brotherhood under the Arab Spring Movement.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Stevens continued to have “off the record” meetings with rebels about reacquiring weapons and other armaments. While progress was slow, Stevens believed he was close enough to a deal that it was time to start working the next part of his assignment—routing  those weapons to the rebels in Syria.


September 11, 2012

Ambassador Stevens held an afternoon meeting with a Turkish diplomat seeking permission to move weapons through Turkey into Syria. The contract security team assigned to the Consulate noted that a number of members of the Turkish security team used cellphones to take photographs of the interior of the Consulate and the security set up. This caused them great concern. Were they preparing for an attack? Why were these pictures even allowed?

2:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time (8:30 p.m. Benghazi time):

Ambassador Stevens walked outside with the Turkish diplomat after negotiations failed to produce an agreement to move weapons through Turkey into Syria. According to the records, no protestors were noted at that time around the Consulate. Stevens security team noted;  “There’s nothing unusual. There has been nothing unusual during the day at all outside.” In other words, there were no protests noted outside the Compound

3:00 PM EDT (9:00 p.m. Benghazi time)

Ambassador Stevens advised his staff he was retiring to his bedroom for the evening.

3:32 PM EDT (9:32 p.m. Benghazi time)

One of the security agents in the compounds heard “loud noises” plus “gunfire and an explosion.”  Security cameras outside of the main gate revealed a large number of armed men moving toward the Consulate compound.

Meanwhile, at the CIA Annex, just as the security team was ready to move out, on-site CIA Agent “Bob” ordered them to stand by.

3:37 PM EDT (9:37 p.m. Benghazi time)

Contract Security Member Kris Paronto requested the Spectre commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights, plus an ISR [an armed Predator drone]

3:42 PM EDT (9:42 p.m. Benghazi time)

General Ham learned about the assault on the consulate compound via a call from the AFRICOM Command Center.

According to General Ham: “My first call was to General Dempsey’s office to say, ‘Hey, I am headed down the hall. I need to see him right away.’ I told him what I knew. We immediately walked upstairs to meet with Secretary Panetta.”

Ham and Dempsey went to meet with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. They knew at that point that two individuals, Ambassador Stevens and Mr. [Sean] Smith, were unaccounted for.

It is important to note that the ambassador on duty in any country is the equivalent to the President of the United States. Would President Obama have felt so flippant had it been him under attack in Benghazi?

Approximately 4:00 PM (approximately 10:00 p.m. Benghazi time)

A senior administration official said the office compound in Benghazi was under attack from unidentified Libyan extremists. This was the first wave of a coordinated attack.

Two military surveillance drones were redirected to Benghazi shortly after the attack on the consulate began. They were already in the vicinity. The second surveillance craft had been sent to relieve the first drone, perhaps due to fuel issues. Both were capable of sending real time visuals back to U.S. officials in Washington, D.C. Any U.S. official or agency with the proper clearance, including the White House Situation Room, State Department, CIA, Pentagon and others, could access that video in real time.

At 4:07 PM in the United States (10:07 p.m. Benghazi time)

Maria Sands, a special assistant to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, forwarded an email from the State Department’s operation to Cheryl Mills, Chief of Staff to Secretary Clinton, that Benghazi was under attack. This email was also sent to Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Jacob Sullivan and Joseph McManus, Clinton’s executive assistant. The text from the Regional Security Officer in Tripoli reported approximately twenty armed men fired shorts, plus explosions had been heard. Ambassador Stevens and Chief of Mission personnel were in the compound safe area, constructed just for such occasions. The 17th of February militia, a Libyan group, were providing security support. (Note this came 35 minutes after the 9:32 Benghazi time attack.)

4:14 PM EDT (10:14 p.m. Benghazi time)

The attackers had gained access to the Compound and had begun to fire into the main building. As a result, the main building was on fire, holding three individuals in the building that included Ambassador Stevens, a regional security officer, and Information Management Officer Sean Smith. The Libyan guard force and mission security personnel responded to the attack.

A security agent at the diplomatic facility shouted into his communication device, “If you guys do not get here, we are going to die!”

At 4:38 PM in the United States (10:38 p.m. Benghazi time)

State Department Foreign Service Officer Lawrence Randolph forwarded an email from Scott Bultrowicz, Diplomatic Security Service, to Mills, Sullivan and McManus that the Compound was under attack.

Sometime between 4:15 PM EDT and 4:45 PM EDT, Sean Smith was found dead.

The security team of three men, including former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, sat in their vehicles for about 20 minutes while the attack was on going, waiting on “go orders.”

After waiting another 10 minutes, the security team decided to head to the diplomatic facility without orders, arriving about 10 minutes later and immediately returning fire. This team remained at the compound for the duration of this attack.

Still, they could not find the Ambassador.

The commandos again called for armed air support. Their request was denied by the CIA chain of command—who also told the CIA operators twice to stand down.

About 4:45 PM EDT (about 10:45 p.m. Benghazi time)

U.S. security personnel tried to retake the main building, but they are repelled back to the Mission Annex.

4:54 PM EDT Washington DC (10:54 p.m. Benghazi time) (1 hour, 22 minutes into the assault)

The embassy in Tripoli reported the attack on the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi had ceased, and the compound was cleared. A response team was on site to find COM personnel.

About 5:20 PM EDT (about 11:20 p.m. Benghazi time)

“U.S. and Libyan security personnel … regain the main building and they were able to secure it.”

September 12, 2012

About 6:00 PM EDT (about Midnight Benghazi time)

The second wave attack began at the Mission Annex and was carried out by Ansar al-Sharia, which had heavy ties to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and was funded by then Egyptian President Mursi. Meanwhile, the security team had failed to find the ambassador and returned to the CIA annex.

Tyrone Woods was later joined at the scene by fellow former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, who was sent in from Tripoli as part of a Global Response Staff (GRS) that provides security to CIA case officers, countersurveillance, and surveillance protection.

At the request of the Spectre and ISR, Contract Security Kris Paronto asked for a status report, because the security team was coming under fire at the CIA safe house. He was informed that it was not available, but they were still working on it. Paronto called “people he knew” in the European Command (EUCOM) Commander’s In-Extremis Force. He was informed a counter-terrorism training mission was taking place in Croatia, a three-hour flight from Benghazi. They informed Paronto, “They were loading their gear into their aircraft and ready to go.”

Paronto would later learn from his friends in that unit they were waiting on go orders. The European Command told him InExtremis Force had been shut down sometime after midnight.

The special operator on the roof of the CIA annex had visual contact and “laser painted” at the Libyan mortar team that was targeting the CIA annex in anticipation of the arrival of a Spectre gunship.

6:06 PM EDT (12:06 AM Benghazi time)

Ansar al-Sharia claimed via Facebook and Twitter responsibility for the second attack on the Benghazi compound. They called for an attack on the Embassy in Tripoli, which never materialized. One minute later, the Department of State’s Operation sent out an email to the White House, Pentagon, and other government agencies that Ansar al-Sharia claimed credit for this attack.

7:09 PM EDT Washington DC (1:09 AM Benghazi time)

Jeremy Bash, a top aide to Secretary Leon Panetta, informed Mrs. Clinton’s office of various military assets that were “spinning up as we speak” to deploy to Benghazi. Those included a C-110 in Croatia, two U.S. Marine Corps Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) platoons based in Rota, Spain, the Spectre gunships, armed Predator drones, and possibly elements of Marine Expeditionary Units in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

One of the C-110 could be sent directly to Benghazi from Croatia. General Carter Ham, commander-in-chief of Africa Command (AFRICOM), issued orders transferring authority for the C-110 to him from European Command (EUCOM).

By laying the groundwork for a formal order he expected to come down an hour or two later, General Ham was doing what any smart U.S. military officer would have done.

Greg Hick, top U.S. diplomat in Tripoli at the time, later testified that the State Department never requested country clearance from Libya for any U.S. forces that night. Therefore, no action by U.S. military was ever contemplated.

8:09 PM EDT Washington DC (2:09 AM Benghazi time)

Orders from Panetta’s office included a retransfer of C-110 from AFRICOM back to EUCOM, along with orders for the unit to move to Sigonella the next day and hold in place, instead of flying to Benghazi.

Was this because Secretary Clinton refused to authorize those forces to deploy into Libya to assist State Department personnel and State Department facilities? Regardless, Panetta had no other choice but to put them on hold. Remember, Panetta was the Chief of Staff of then President Bill Clinton. Did they speak in confidence without anything put in writing or on private phone which would not be transcribed? The one thing that did leak out was the following:

A senior AFRICOM commander involved in that night’s events claimed, “The State Department was concerned that an overt U.S. military presence in Libya could topple the government.”

About 8:00 PM (About 2:00 AM Benghazi time)

An American Quick Reaction Force sent from Tripoli had arrived at the Benghazi airport (four hours after the initial attack on the consulate). They were delayed for 45 minutes at the airport because they could not get transportation—allegedly due to confusion among the Libyan militias who were supposed to escort them to the annex.

About 8:30 PM Washington DC (2:30 AM Benghazi time)

The Department of State received a message from the Embassy in Tripoli: “Libyan security forces were able to assist us in regaining control of the situation. At some point in all of this—and frankly, we do not know when—we believe that Ambassador Stevens got out of the building and was taken to a hospital in Benghazi. We do not have any information what his condition was at that time.”

About 9:00 PM (About 3:00 AM Benghazi time)

A motorcade of dozens of Libyan vehicles, some mounted with 50 caliber machine guns belonging to the February 17th Brigades, a Libyan militia which was friendly to the U.S., finally showed up at the CIA annex.

About 10:00 PM (about 4:00 AM Benghazi time)

Four mortars were fired at the annex. The first one struck outside the annex. Three more hit the annex. During the second attack, two additional U.S. personnel, former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed by a mortar shell, plus ten others were wounded.

Secretary Clinton issued a statement confirming that one State official was killed during an attack on the Consulate in Benghazi.

In her statement, she made reference to an anti-Muslim trailer for a movie, Innocence of Muslims  It is important to note, no one had seen it up to that time—it sported a viewed count of only a few hundred on Her announcement actually sent people to the site. Also, later, the individual who made this video was arrested.

Part of her statement was as follows: “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”

11:12 PM Washington DC (5:12 AM Benghazi time)

Secretary Clinton sent an email to Chelsea Clinton: “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an al Qaeda-like group: The Ambassador, whom I handpicked and a young communications officer on temporary duty w a wife and two young children. Very hard day and I fear more of the same tomorrow.”

11:57 PM EDT Washington DC (5:57 AM Benghazi time)

Maria Sand, then a Special Assistant to Secretary Clinton forwarded the following email from the State Department’s Operations Center titled: U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi is Under Attack

“(SBU) [Sensitive But Unclassified] DS Command reports the current shelter location for COM personnel in Benghazi is under mortar fire.  There are reports of injuries to COM staff.”

12:04 AM EDT Washington DC (6:04 AM Benghazi time)

Randolph sent an email with the subject line “FW: Update 3: Benghazi Shelter Location Also Under Attack” to Mills, Sullivan, and McManus that contained one of the  updates read about the Benghazi attack:

“I just called Ops and they said the DS command center is reporting that the compound is under attack again.  I am about to reach out to the DS Command Center.”

12:11 AM EDT Washington DC (6:11 AM Benghazi time)

Cheryl Mills requested that the State Department stop answering press inquiries, including the ongoing questions about Ambassador Stevens whereabouts. :

“Can we stop answering emails for the night Toria b/c now the first one [Hillary Clinton’s “inflammatory material posted on the Internet” statement] is hanging out there.”

3:22 AM Washington DC (9:22 AM Benghazi time)

Senior Watch Officer Andrew Veprek forwarded an email to numerous State Department officials, which was later forwarded to Cheryl Mills and Joseph McManus, with the subject line “Death of Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi”:

Embassy Tripoli confirms the death of Ambassador John C. (Chris) Stevens in Benghazi. His body has been recovered and is at the airport in Benghazi. Cause of death was listed as asphyxiation. According to the reports from attending doctors, Stevens could have been saved had he arrived at the hospital earlier.



Dear Reader:

Please comprehend that an Ambassador and one of his aids, plus two contract security men, were killed in Benghazi, Libya. The Ambassador is the equivalent of the President of the United States in that country. The diplomats and elites set up these rules more than two centuries ago, so they could literally walk through wars and conflicts unharmed. Only seven ambassadors have ever been killed in service—five assassinated and two died in plane crashes dating back to 1950.

Was an order given to stand down?



Here is the chain of command in the military for Benghazi on the night of September 11, 2012: SOCAFRICA commander Lieutenant Colonel Gibson, a desk officer, was first in line. Next, Marine Corps Colonel George Bristol, commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara. Above him, Rear Admiral Brian Losey, Commander of Special Operations Command Africa. And, finally, the highest commander of AFRICOM, General Ham, who answered directly to President Obama and the Secretary of Defense. Period.

After a thorough investigation, no official documents, including sworn testimonies, has come forward that any of the “brass” (General Carter Ham or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey) were ever given the order to stand down. That was their official story. Conversely, they never gave an order to aid those under attack at the Consulate. Why?

General Ham claimed that when the first wave was over, he believed the attacks were over. Would you not want to reinforce, just in case there was a second attack?

General Dempsey claimed that since the Ambassador was missing, they were now on a hostage rescue mission, which required a completely different team to handle the situation. As Chairman of the Joint Chief, wouldn’t he be in charge of the military rescue mission?

While it is hard to buy into those two official positions, that is what they said on the record. So since no one said “go”, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs did nothing and the general in charge of AFRICOM did nothing. Did they need direct orders to do something? What happened to “we” leave no one behind?

Admiral Losey said there was “never an order to stand down.” His instruction to the team “was to remain in place and continue to provide security in Tripoli because of the uncertain environment.” Earlier on September 11, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo had been breached as well. He only discussed the situation in Tripoli—never discussed any other assets. Then he went on and claimed assigning the small team to defend a perimeter wouldn’t have been appropriate and would have meant the military losing its command operation in Tripoli “for the benefit of four riflemen who weren’t even riflemen.”

Now, know all that went on from the very beginning, Secretary Panetta claimed there was not a clear enough picture of what was occurring on the ground in Benghazi to send help.

Let that sink in.



There is a record that the President was first contacted about the attack by someone at the Department of Defense. Did President Obama call General Ham at AFRICOM and issue the stand down order without any witnesses? According to several sources, President Obama gave the order to “handle it” about 5PM EDT. No further contact was established with the President thereafter. The Obama Administration blacked out all correspondence, if there were any. The official story from the Obama Administration was he had to get ready for his trip to a Las Vegas fundraiser the next morning.

In September 2012, incumbent President Obama was facing the final months of his reelection campaign. He could not afford to provide his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, with a potential advantage on foreign policy. So, when this disaster occurred, he had to two choices: either put the best spin possible on the event or try to sweep it under the rug—which, with the help of the press, he pretty much achieved.

One of President Obama’s favorite campaign statements was: “Osama Bin Laden is dead, al-Qaeda is on the run.” A terrorist attack at an American embassy would have changed that narrative. Benghazi did not fit his slogan.

The irony in all of this was the Obama administration was already shipping Libyan weapons to Syrian rebels—you know, the “good” rebels, like al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other who committed genocide against Christians and destroyed humanity’s cultural heritage in ancient Mesopotamia—at the time of the attack. In other words, President Obama and Secretary Clinton were assisting the caliphate throughout the Middle East by grabbing weapons from Libya and sending them to radical groups, including the growing ISIS and those building for an Islamic invasion of Europe.

Also, as mentioned in previous blogs, according to official White House records, the Muslim Brotherhood—more particularly, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood—were among the most frequent visitors to the White House. Many of President Obama’s prominent appointees had direct ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, including Hillary Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin. Also please note, President Obama was not the first to establish a relationship with that organization—visitations actually go back to early on in the Cold War.

It had long been known the primary objective of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was to free the Blind Sheikh from prison. They were very influential in the implementation of the attacks on the Consulate, including the second wave.

When it was finally time to investigate Benghazi, the FBI’s investigation of the crime scene was delayed by three full weeks, during which time the rebels rifled through the documents and other evidence left behind. Additionally, the Obama Administration chose an “investigator” who worked for George Soros at the International Crisis Group. Soros had ties to both the Clintons and Obamas, therefore, it is unlikely his group would have provided an unbiased investigation.

As a side note, Congress showed remarkably bad judgment and rubberstamped what President Obama and Secretary Clinton demanded—arm Islamic terrorists in order to overthrow secular governments in the Middle East and North Africa, the “Arab Spring” Movement, where we helped the “good” rebels to overthrow dictatorships.

Has the U.S. ever sent weapons to “good” guys they didn’t live to regret?



One thing is for certain, CIA Agent “Bob”, Chief on site at the CIA Annex, did not act on his own when he told the operators to stand down. The CIA official position was that no stand down order came from any one of them, from David Petraeus on down, despite “eye witnesses” at the CIA Annex hearing “Bob” ordering security forces not to go to the Consulate.

Moreover, they claimed the only available operatives to send were in Tripoli, which amounted to a detachment leader, a medic, a communications expert, and a weapons operator with his foot in a cast. Yet, the CIA headquarters felt compelled to protect the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli instead of assisting those being evacuated from Benghazi.

To be clear, the official story was Director Petraeus was contacted directly on that night by Secretary Clinton for assistance with security during the attacks. The CIA claimed it had no such formal agreement.

To be clear, let’s examine Director Petraeus’s position:  The CIA didn’t have a formal agreement to provide backup security.

Ultimately, the CIA did send some of their consultants, such as Paranto, Tiegen, etc., to the Consulate, however, they were delayed in getting there for the reason above. Journalist Spencer Ackerman wrote that Petraeus did not want to send any assistance in order to keep their role at Benghazi secret. He did not elaborate that the CIA was part of the contingent there to acquiring arms from the Libyan rebels. So four Americans were murdered because Petraeus didn’t have a contract and wanted to keep his mission secret. Does that position sound right?



There is some evidence that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave the stand down order, even though she was not in the military chain of command. Conversely, I believe the Secretary had to be the one to request help, since there was no military presence at the embassy—only diplomatic officials and their security were there—which could put the request for assistance under the State Department’s direct authority. That would explain why, without a specific request for assistance from the State Department, the Pentagon decided to do nothing.

Here is a question? Secretary Clinton has joked about how poor she is with computers, phones, email, servers and the internet, so who on her staff found the inflammatory YouTube video that she claimed caused the “protests” outside the Benghazi Consulate?



What was the role of the local security team?

The local security team, Blue Mountain Group, was hired by the Department of State since they were already had clearance by the Libyan government, plus, get this, they were the only company to agree to Secretary Clinton’s demand that they would not carry firearms. Seriously. Moreover, they advertised and hired some twenty residents. To get them in place and ready fast, Blue Mountain did not do perform any real background checks plus either failed to train or poorly trained their new employees. Reuter’s research even claimed one of the employees had thrown a firebomb into the Compound before being hired. Think about all of that Secretary Clinton hired a company that didn’t have employees, had no background checks and couldn’t carry weapons. Here is the clincher, some of those hired were members of Ansar al-Sharia and Al Qaeda, who provided information to the attackers.

When the attacks started, it was claimed that the security guards opened the gates to let them in. Needless to say, when the shooting started they were gone. As a matter of fact, some of the survivors of the attack claimed that several of the security guards were among the attackers.



Why did the Republicans not push to get to the bottom of the truth:

While we know that Blue Mountain held the contract for providing security at the Consulate, we don’t know what role a British-based security contractor Aegis Defense Services, a private military company, had there but part of their assignment was in Libya. Aegis held the contract to provide security to certain U.S. overseas diplomatic posts around the world with a $10 billion, 5-year contract with the State Department. Who was their CEO? Kristi Rogers. Who is Kristi Rogers? The wife of Congressman Mike Rogers, a seven-term Republican from Michigan who had climbed the political ladder to become chairman of the Intelligence Committee in January 2011. Mike and Kristi Rogers were quintessential Washington insiders.

It has been reported that Ambassador Stevens had a meeting with Congressman Rogers prior to the attacks but to date no records have emerged from that meeting.

The House Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi found no failures in intelligence on the lead up and the night of September 11, 2012. Having read my blog, would you agree?

My opinion, no one in the “Swamp” would go after “their own”, so the Republicans had to tread lightly in attacking the security at Benghazi. Out of fear of what would be exposed. It should be noted, before the 2014 election, Congressman Rogers left to go into the private sector.



According to both Kris Paronto and John Tiegen, another member of the security team, their delay in arriving at the Benghazi Consulate from the CIA Annex likely cost Stevens and Smith their lives. Several members of the security team believed what Paranto stated: “We need to have an answer of when the secretary of defense had assets that he could have begun spinning up. Why there was not one order given to turn on one Department of Defense asset? I have my suspicions, which is Secretary Clinton told Leon [Panetta] to stand down, and we all heard about the stand-down order for two military personnel. That order is undeniable. They were told not to get on — get off the airplane and kind of stand by — and they’re going to characterize it wasn’t stand down. But when we’re done with Benghazi, the real question is, was there a stand-down order to Leon Panetta or did he just not do his job? Was there a stand-down order from the president who said he told them to use their resources and they didn’t use them?  Those questions have to be answered.”

So, as the Consulate and CIA annex were under attack with gunfire and taking mortar rounds, the official claim from the military, the government and the CIA was…no request was made for help? We know those on the ground requested help and expected help.

With planes at Sigonella Air Base, just 480 miles away, and two separate Tier One Special operations forces nearby, no one was given the command to assist. However, this does not amount to stand down orders. The special operations team, or CIF (Commanders In-extremis Force), operating in Central Europe had been moved to Sigonella, Italy, but they were never told to deploy. A second force that specializes in counterterrorism rescues was on hand at Sigonella, according to senior military and intelligence sources. According to those sources, they could have flown to Benghazi in less than two hours. They were the same distance from Benghazi as those that were sent from Tripoli, including Spectre gunships. In fact, a Pentagon official said there were never any requests to deploy assets from outside the country.

However, individuals down the military chain in hindsight stated: “Could the military have responded to Benghazi, we should have tried.”

What we do know is that Greg Hicks knew special forces were ready to board a plane in Tripoli, and that even after they got word that Stevens was dead, Hicks said, “The Libyan military agreed to fly their C-130 to Benghazi and carry additional personnel to Benghazi as reinforcements,” including US Special Forces, but that a call came through from Special Operations Command Africa saying, “You can’t go now; you don’t have authority to go now.”  Also, Special Forces in Italy, less than an hour or so away, were suited up and ready to go, but were told to wait or got NO orders at all.

How could our diplomats, knowing that those at the Benghazi Consulate were out-numbered and out-gunned on the ground, just sit. Common sense says reinforce in case of a second attack. What did they do sit and “wringing their hands” trying to decide what to do, what to say and how to spin the attack?

Was there an order given to stand down by the President or Secretary of State? Sadly, I don’t believe it was given. In fact, I think the whole thing was set up so that no orders were given. So, were those in authority, who could help, afraid to issue orders without permission from above?

What I can say with a high degree of certainty, is that our politicians, diplomats, and elites either issued stand down orders in such a manner that there was no official record, or they spent the whole time trying to figure out what was going on.” Either way, no help was sent to the security protecting an ambassador in peril. Dempsey and Ham, at least on the official record, made statements to protect their pensions.

As to me, I have always wondered . . .

What if the whole Benghazi scenario was a set up for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to kidnap Ambassador Stevens, and then exchange him for the Blind Sheikh? Both President Obama and Secretary Clinton would look like heroes if they could “negotiate” that exchange. And, it would be easy if it were pre-arranged. From the very beginning, the number one objective of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was to get the Blind Sheikh released from prison. I believe the purpose of the second wave of the attack was to kidnap the Ambassador. Think about it. Obama goes off the grid, and Clinton’s people find a scarcely-viewed inflammatory Muslim YouTube video that explains the attack, while Ambassador Stevens’ life is in peril. Why would they not care what was unraveling in Benghazi? Because they already knew what the outcome was to be.

Then Stevens up and died and ruined their entire plan.

Think about it. Guns go to Syria, Obama looks like a hero negotiating Stevens’ releases before the election, Clinton campaigns on this, gets elected in 2016, and the Egyptians get the Blind Sheikh.

This is what the diplomats and elites don’t want you to know.