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Mother of contractor slain in Benghazi hopes hearing is ‘end of it’

Glen Doherty was killed in the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
Glen Doherty was killed in the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.(QUIGLEY FAMILY/File)

As former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified Thursday at an emotionally charged hearing being held by a House committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, the mother of a CIA operative from Massachusetts who died in the assault refused to turn on the television, and instead, tended to her garden in Woburn.

Barbara Doherty did not watch Clinton's long-awaited questioning by the House Select Committee on Benghazi, and denounced the panel as politically motivated.

Her son, Glen Doherty, was killed on Sept. 11, 2012 when Islamic militants attacked a US diplomatic base in the war-torn north African nation.

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Three other Americans also died at the post, including US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

Doherty, 42, was a former Navy SEAL and "everyone's best friend," his mother said.

"I hope this is the end of it," Barbara Doherty said in a telephone interview. "I'm trying to stay out of this political debacle."

The GOP-led committee on Benghazi has come under recent scrutiny after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, implied the committee's existence was to derail Clinton's campaign for the Democratic nomination for president.

In his opening statement Thursday, US Representative Trey Gowdy attempted to quell the committee's critics. Gowdy, the committee's chairman, said the hearing's purpose was not to attack Clinton, but to honor the men that died in Libya, including Glen Doherty.

Doherty's mother disagreed.

"They're so intent on focusing on one person they're not looking at the whole picture," she said, referring to Clinton. "It's been such a long journey."

On Thursday, Glen Doherty's name was mentioned several times during Clinton's questioning.

Gowdy, in his opening statement, praised the four victims as "Americans who believed in service and sacrifice."

And Clinton called Doherty, who grew up in Winchester, brave.

"Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty worked for the CIA," Clinton said, referencing another victim of the attacks. "They were both former Navy SEALs and trained paramedics with distinguished records of service, including in Iraq and Afghanistan."

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In the three years since Doherty's death, his family has advocated for the rights of federal contractors in war zones, according to his mother.

As an independent contractor who was unmarried and without children, Doherty was ineligible to receive death benefits afforded to military personnel under the Defense Base Act of 1941, although he was employed by the CIA, she said.

The family is working with Congressman Stephen F. Lynch to craft a law that would remove those barriers.

On Jan. 26, Lynch introduced The Glen Anthony Doherty Overseas Security Personnel Fairness Act.

"It is unacceptable that the Defense Base Act requires federal workers to take out an insurance policy before they are deployed overseas and accepts the payment of insurance premiums from those workers, but fails to provide death benefits to their families or estate solely based on marital and child status," Lynch stated on his website.

Barbara Doherty said she knew of 80 slain contractors who were unmarried and without children since 1989.

"My child died defending the country and the government says sorry but no one does anything to change the law," Doherty said, calling the Defense Base Act "outdated."

If Congress wanted to honor her son, it would work on these policy issues, not question Clinton, she said.

"[Glen] wasn't political at all," Doherty said, adding that she still communicates with his well-wishers from across the world. "He saved the lives of many people and he was an exceptional human being."

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Astead W. Herndon can be reached at astead.herndon@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @AsteadWH.