Benghazi Hearing Aims to Reveal High Level Decision-Makers

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Republicans on the House Oversight Committee say there will be “explosive” revelations that will come forth during the Committee’s hearing on Wednesday when three State Department witnesses reveal what they knew the night the U.S. consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya were attacked by terrorists. Committee members will be hearing the testimonies of State Department employees Greg Hicks, Mark Thompson, and Eric Nordstrom.

The Committee appears to be interested in finding out who ultimately made the decision to tell military assets not to send help to the Americans who were under assault in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. The attack took the lives of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), a member of the Oversight Committee, has said the whistleblower witnesses will discuss whether or not there could have been military assets deployed during the siege that could have saved the lives of former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glenn Doherty.  

Hicks told the Oversight Committee in April:

If we had got clearance from the Libyan military for an American plane to fly over Libyan airspace. The Libyans that I talked to and the Libyans and other Americans who were involved in the war have told me also that Libyan revolutionaries were very cognizant of the impact that American and NATO airpower had with respect to their victory. They are under no illusions that American and NATO airpower won that war for them.  And so, in my personal opinion, a fastmover flying over Benghazi at some point, you know, as soon as possible might very well have prevented some of the bad things that happened that night.

“[T]he administration says we couldn’t have gotten there in time which defies logic, because they had no idea had long the attack was going to last,” Gowdy told Fox News on Tuesday night. “Mr. Thompson is going to shed light on...the siege itself and whether or not our fellow Americans were crying for help and we could have helped them and for whatever reason chose not to,” he said.

Additionally, Gowdy says he will be questioning the witnesses about the administration’s explanation for falsely blaming an online video, made in part by California resident and Coptic Christian Mark Basseley Youssef, for instigating the attack on the consulate. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice went onto five Sunday news shows following the attack and touted the administration’s position that the video was the reason for the attack on the consulate.

“You’re going to know that [Ambassador Susan Rice] was demonstrably false. You’re going to know that she was the only person who held onto that narrative even after everyone else went away from it,” Gowdy said, adding, “And importantly..what you're going to hear that this cover up, her choosing to rely on those false talking points about the video, impeded and obstructed our ability to get at what happened in Benghazi. The [FBI] was denied access to the crime scene as a direct result of her false narrative that it was a video.”

Hicks will tell the Committee, according to Gowdy, how the State Department attempted to protect high-level officials at the Department after the attack. Excerpts of Hicks’ interview with the Committee show Hicks thought the Department's Benghazi Accountability Review Board (ARB) report did not palace blame on anyone, telling the Committee:

I thought it was incomplete. I thought that it was--that the recommendations were unbalanced in favor of building higher walls, pouring more concrete, that it was insufficiently strong in recommending that the State Department personnel needed to have more and better training to be deployed to critical threat environments…

I mean, the ARB report itself doesn’t really ascribe blame to any individual at all. The public report anyway....It does let people off the hook. In our system, people who make decisions have been confirmed by the Senate to make decisions. The three people in the State Department who are on administrative leave pending disciplinary action are below Senate confirmation level.  Now, the DS assistant secretary resigned, and he is at Senate confirmation level. Yet the paper trail is pretty clear that decisions were being made above his level. Certainly the fact that Under Secretary Kennedy required a daily report of the personnel in country and who personally approved every official American who went to Tripoli or Benghazi, either on assignment or TDY, would suggest some responsibility about security levels within the country lies on his desk...

The witnesses will likely be asked to describe what their transition was like after the attack, particularly focusing in on any threats they may have received from the State Department if they broke their silence about what they knew.


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