Benghazi: New Revelations and Questions from the Congressional Hearing

Benghazi: New Revelations and Questions from the Congressional Hearing May 8, 2013

I survived more than four hours of watching and listening to a Congressional hearing on Benghazi on C-Span3 today

Talk about living by faith!

Whistleblowers prepare to testify to Congress about Benghazi on May 8, 2013.

I sensed the hearing could be pivotal in our getting answers to the many questions about what happened in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, when Ambassador Stephens and three other Americans were killed in a terrorist attack on our consulate.

So I watched and listened. And tweeted. You can explore my live-tweeting journey here.

Who testified?

Whistleblowers.

Three men had come forward to offer testimony  of what happened in Benghazi. They claimed they had been either ignored by the Administration officials or mistreated for challenging the official version of the events as put forward by Susan Rice and the President five days after the events. As you may recall, the White House blamed the attack on a You Tube video ( the maker of which is still in jail, by the way, though not one attacker on the consulate has been arrested).

I posted in October about questions that demanded answers then. They still do today.

Via The International Business Times, the men were:

 Two of the three State Department officials — Mark Thompson, acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism, and Gregory Hicks, a 22-year foreign service officer veteran and former deputy chief of mission in Libya —  are expected to testify that the consulate requested a military presence and that consular officials feared for their security but were rebuffed.

Also scheduled to testify is Eric Nordstrom, a diplomatic security officer and former regional security officer for Libya.

What Did They Say?

Deputy Chief Hicks gave a riveting first-hand account of what happened in Libya that night — the very first of its kind to be made public. For those Democrat representatives who claimed the committee was just rehashing old stories, they clearly were not listening. This was the first time such a story has been heard. It was heart-felt. It was tear-inducing. You really should listen and/or watch regardless of your political persuasion. If you are an American — or human — it’s worth the time.

I’ll sum up what I thought were the big reveals about their testimony:

  • Ambassador Stephens spoke with Deputy Hicks while the attack was unfolding. Stephens said they were under attack. No mention was made of a video. No mention was made of a protest. No protocols for protests were initiated, only those to be used when under attack.
  • Ambassador Stephens was actually taken to a hospital that was run by the very terrorist group that attacked the consulate. No wonder he did not survive.
  • No one on the ground in Libya that night or throughout the nearly ten-hour ordeal ever mentioned a video or protest as being remotely related to the attack. Deputy Hicks was shocked when he first heard Rice mention it when she claimed it was responsible for inducing the attacks.
  • President Obama, Sec. Clinton, and many others praised Hicks for valiant leadership that night. But after he challenged Rice’s version of events, everything changed. Suddenly his “management style” came into question. He strongly sensed that no dissent was welcome. He soon found himself, in his words, unemployed. He was then demoted to the desk job he holds now, a significant reduction in status. (By the way, I think we have whistleblower laws in place for just such situations.)
  • The White House claims of a video being responsible directly contradicted the President of Libya’s immediate claim that it was an attack by Islamist terrorists (a claim that proved correct). As a result of the embarrassing contradiction, the FBI was delayed from securing the crime scene for 17 days, during which time the scene was compromised repeatedly.
  • Hicks was instructed by Clinton right-hand aid Cheryl Mills not to speak to the Congressional investigator in an interview without the State attorney present. Such instructions had never happened to him before. At one incident, the attorney was kept out of a meeting because he/she did not have security clearance. According to Hicks,  Cheryl Mills was “furious” that his handler had been excluded.  Watch the video of his account here. By way of explanation from Allahpundit at HotAir:

Cheryl Mills is no run-of-the-mill State Department apparatchik, even among the top tier. She’s been one of the Clintons’ right-hand men for decades. She worked in Bill’s White House legal office, then as counsel to Hillary’s presidential campaign, then became chief of staff at State when Hillary was appointed secretary. If she’s the right-hand man, what other conclusion is there than that Hillary’s the one who wanted Hicks to keep his mouth shut when meeting with Chaffetz?

  • The inter-agency counter-terrorism team (FEST) was never activated that night even though they exist for just such purposes as a rapid-response to help inform key decision makers. Instead, 23 -year Marine vet Mark Thompson, the Acting Deputy Assistant Sec. of State for Operations — Counter-terrorism Bureau, was told that a decision had been made early in the process. His team was “not on the menu of options.”
  • All three men agreed that the security in place was grossly inadequate. Nordstrom was the former Libyan Regional Security Officer until July 2012. He claimed to have requested additional security to meet the minimum security requirements. Based on the security in place in Benghazi, no one should have been permitted to be there from the State Department. Based on Nordstrom’s experience and testimony, the only person with the authority by law to authorize putting people in such situations without minimum security is the Secretary of State. I guess that might explain “what difference it would make.”
  • Col. Gibson was preparing to travel via plane to Benghazi from Tripoli with three other specially trained soldiers to reinforce the team under attack in Benghazi. According to Ambassador Hicks (acting ambassador at the time after Ambassador Stephen’s death) someone told Gibson via phone to not go to Benghazi.  Gibson was furious and said, “For once a diplomat (Hicks) has more b***s than someone in the military.”

There was more, of course, over five hours or so, but those were the key highlights.

Questions to Be Answered

The testimony raised new questions that still demand answers. A House select committee should be named to further investigate the issues raised by these whistleblowers (Aren’t they victims now?) Some of the questions that come to my mind  follow:

  • Who exactly gave the order for Lt. Gibson’s team to stand down. And why? Was it to minimize political fallout over a situation deemed already lost? Call Lt. Gibson to testify and you’ll get closer to the answer.
  • Who exactly decided not to activate the counter-terrorism response team that exists for precisely such purposes. And why?
  • Where did the intel come from for the White House’s blaming a You Tube video and claiming a spontaneous protest when there clearly was NO evidence of them on the ground in Libya that night. Nor was it even mentioned. Who decided to sell that story and why?
  • Who was the State Department attorney sent to monitor Hicks and his team? He/she should testify, of course, and tell exactly what were the instructions under which they were functioning?
  • Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s closest assistant, should be called to explain her actions and why Hicks was demoted after earning the praises of both Clinton and Obama.
  • Beth Jones should be called to testify also as to why she worked to remove Hicks after he challenged Rice’s version of events.
  • I would like to see Under-Secretary Kennedy called to testify, as well. It was he who had said that everyone on the ground in Libya then would have said a protest/video was responsible. Except for Deputy Hicks. Who was the lead person actually on the ground in Libya at the time. When asked directly if the Review board report seemed to let anyone off the hook, Hicks said “Yes, sir” then identified Kennedy as the one most responsible.
  • Nordstrom also named Kennedy as the place where decisions seem to get made of this nature, possibly without ever getting to the Secretary’s attention. If I were Kennedy, I’d be worried that I had patsy written all over me. Unless I had actually screwed things up on my own. In which case I’d still be worried, but for different reasons.

Well, that’s my recap. I suggest you scroll through my Twitter feed here for a quick recap.

And this account is me trying to be unbiased. I hold out very little hope that any of this, no matter how damning, will matter at all anymore.

But for me, truth still matters. I’m hoping there’s still a few good men and women left in our nation who agree.

One last thought — When I posted in October, I said that I thought this had the potential to be bigger than Watergate. Nothing I heard today changed that opinion. If anything, I have become more confident of it. The decisions made surrounding the attack on our consulate do, in fact, have the potential to bring down this Presidency. I’m sure of it.

Whether they will or not?  I have no idea. We’re not exactly in Kansas anymore.

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