Thursday, May 9, 2013
Blow-by-Blow: How Obama & Hillary Left Americans to Die
Wednesday on Capitol Hill,
three impeccable witnesses
offered the clearest evidence to
date that the Obama
administration’s response to
Benghazi before, during and
after the terrorist attack that
claimed the lives of Ambassador Christopher Stevens,
State Department employee Sean Smith, and former Navy
SEALs Glen A. Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods, was a
deadly combination of ineptitude, political calculations, and
outright lying. Mark Thompson, acting deputy assistant
Secretary of State for counterterrorism; Greg Hicks, former
deputy chief of mission in Libya; and Eric Nordstrom,
former regional security officer in Libya, offered
unshakeable testimony, despite efforts by several
Democratic lawmakers to protect both the current
administration and former Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, their party’s most viable presidential candidate for
2016. What the witnesses averred reveals a grim web of
deceit likely orchestrated by Hillary Clinton and Barack
Obama to cover up the order to ground U.S. rescue teams
that could have easily saved our besieged countrymen in
Some of the most compelling and emotional testimony
was provided by Hicks, who offered the House Oversight
and Government Reform committee a damning blow-by-
blow account of the September 11, 2012 attack: In Tripoli
at the time, Hicks recounted how he had spoken with
Stevens early in the evening, and there was no sign of
unusual activity. After relaxing for a while, he got an alert
that Benghazi was under attack. When he checked his cell
phone he saw two numbers, one of which he didn’t
recognize. He called that number first and got Stevens on
the phone. “Greg! We’re under attack!” said Stevens,
according to Mr. Hicks.
Later, when it became clear that Stevens was missing, the
first concern was that he had been taken by terrorists. “We
began to hear also that the ambassador’s been taken to a
hospital,” said Hicks. “We learn that it is in a hospital which
is controlled by Ansar al-Shariah, the group that Twitter
feeds had identified as leading the attack on the
consulate.” As this information was coming in, a “response
team” from Tripoli arrived at the Benghazi airport, one that
Hicks thought might become involved in a “hostage rescue”
operation, even as officials worried they were being
“baited into a trap.”
Hicks then spoke of the mortars that landed on the
compound shortly after a group of Americans fleeing the
consulate arrived at the annex. The first mortar landed
among a group of Libyans who had helped bring the
Americans to safety. “The next was short,” he said. “The
next three landed on the roof.”
Those were the mortars that killed Doherty and Woods.
Hicks was visibly choked up when he recounted learning
about Stevens’ death from the Libyan prime minister. ”I
think it’s the saddest phone call I’ve ever had in my life,”
In one of the most stunning portions of the hearing, Hicks
confirmed the chilling refusal of the Obama administration
to send in readily available U.S. assets to stop the
consulate slaughter. This order to “stand down” was given
not once, but at least twice. Hicks also revealed that an
explicit order from the chain of command prevented a four-
man special forces rescue team in Tripoli from getting to
the Americans trapped at the annex. He noted the order
came from ”either AFRICOM or SOCAFRICA” and that the
team was “furious” when they were told to stand down. “I
will quote Lieutenant Colonel Gibson,” said Hicks, referring
to the officer on the receiving end of that command. “He
said, ‘This is the first time in my career that a diplomat has
more balls than somebody in the military.’” Hicks’
testimony on this point directly contradicts recent
statements from the Obama-run Pentagon. “There was
never any kind of stand-down order to anybody,” said Maj.
Robert Furman, Pentagon spokesman, on Monday.
Yet Mark Thompson also testified that he tried to get a
Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST) comprised of
special ops and intelligence personnel deployed, and he,
too, was told to stand down. According to a source
interviewed by Breitbart.com, only President Obama, or
someone acting on his authority, could have given the
stand down order. As we know from testimony provided by
former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint
Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, President
Obama met with the two officials on September 11 at 5
p.m. EDT for 30 minutes — less than an hour-and-a-half
into the attack — and was supposedly never heard from
him again for the rest of the evening. The very next day,
Obama headed to a campaign fundraiser in Las Vegas.
The Obama administration undoubtedly understood that
its decision to leave defenseless Americans, including our
ambassador, to needlessly die at the hands of al-Qaeda-
linked jihadists would not go over well for a commander-in-
chief in the throes of a presidential election and a
secretary of state angling for the Oval Office in 2016.
Hicks’ testimony affirmed suspicions that administration
officials conspired to conceal the nature of the attack by
concocting an absolutely fictitious account of events
involving a “spontaneous” attack prompted by an anti-
Islam YouTube video. Hicks testified that he had
personally told former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
that the Benghazi raid was a terrorist attack at 2 a.m. that
same night. He recounted that ”everybody in the mission”
believed it was an act of terror “from the get-go,” a reality
echoed by Libyan President Mohammed al-Magariaf, who
said his government had “no doubt that this was pre-
planned, predetermined.” Magariaf made this assertion the
very day before UN ambassador Susan Rice went out to
peddle the lie that a “spontaneous demonstration” had
gotten out of hand due to an Internet video.
When Hicks heard Rice, he was appalled. “My jaw
dropped, and I was embarrassed,” he said.
In reality, Rice was a willing mouthpiece for the two
biggest promoters of the Internet video lie: President
Obama and Hillary Clinton. In fact, the State Department
spent $70,000 to run advertisements in Pakistan featuring
the two of them rejecting the contents of the video, and
promoting tolerance for all religions. Even more
remarkable, despite committee Democrats implying that a
thorough investigation was conducted internally by the
State Department’s Accountability Review Board (ARB),
Hillary Clinton was never interviewed by the ARB.
Hillary’s entire take on the matter can be whittled down to
the infamous statement she made during the U.S. House
Oversight Committee hearing on May 8, 2013. After being
questioned as to why the administration misled the
American people, Clinton became indignant. “With all due
respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans,” she said.
“Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out
for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill
some Americans? What difference at this point does it
Eric Nordstrom, who became emotional when he
described his friends and other personnel who lost their
lives in the attack, provided an answer to that question. “It
matters to me personally and it matters to my colleagues–
to my colleagues at the Department of State,” he said, his
voice breaking. “It matters to the American public for
whom we serve. And, most importantly, it matters to the
friends and family of Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith,
Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods who were murdered on
September 11, 2012.”
Nordstrom further testified in writing that Hillary Clinton
waived security requirements for the Benghazi consulate
despite high and critical threat levels in the six categories
of security standards established under the Overseas
Security Policy Board and the Secure Embassy
Construction and Counterterrorism Act of 1999. The
waiver can only be authorized by the Secretary of State,
who cannot delegate that responsibility to someone
else. ”If the Secretary of State did not waive these
requirements, who did so by ordering occupancy of the
facilities in Benghazi and Tripoli?” Nordstrom wrote.
Nordstrom also offered his take on the ARB. ”I found the
ARB process that I was involved in to be professional and
the unclassified recommendations reasonable and positive.
However, it is not what is contained within the report that I
take exception to but what is left unexamined,” Nordstrom
wrote. “Specifically, I’m concerned with the ARB’s decision
to focus its attention at the Assistant Secretary level and
below, where the ARB felt that ‘the decision-making in fact
takes place,’” he wrote.
Hicks testified that the State Department actively sought to
intimidate witnesses in order to prevent facts surrounding
the Benghazi attack from being leaked. He revealed that a
top State Department official called him to demand a
report from his meeting with a congressional delegation
and expressed unhappiness that a State Department
lawyer was not present for the session. “I was instructed
not to allow the RSO, the acting deputy chief of mission–
me–to be personally interviewed,” he said. Later in the
hearing, Hicks noted that State seemed especially
concerned with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who has
done yeoman’s work tracking down the survivors of the
attack, kept under wraps by the administration. ”We were
not to be personally interviewed by Congressman
Chaffetz,” said Hicks, who added that Cheryl Mills, former
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief of
staff, ”demanded a report on the visit” that did take place.
The State Department was caught in another lie yesterday
as well. While the hearings were getting underway,
Republicans revealed that Ambassador Thomas Pickering,
co-chairman of the ARB, refused to testify. State
countered that Republicans refused to let him. Frederick
Hill, spokesman for Committee chairman Darryl Issa (R-
CA), produced a letter dated February 22 inviting
Pickering to testify. “Ambassador Pickering initially told the
Committee he was not available on that date,” Hill told
ABC News. “When asked about a different date, he said
he was not inclined to testify.”
The State Department isn’t the only entity interested in
controlling the flow of information in this tragedy. House
Democrats embarrassingly struggled to distract from the
proceedings with absurd non sequiturs and personal
attacks. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking
Democratic at the Benghazi hearing, told one of the
whistleblowers to “protect your fellow employees.” Rep.
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) suggested it was unpatriotic to
challenge the administration’s narrative. “I find it truly
disturbing and very unfortunate that when Americans
come under attack, the first thing some did in this country
was attack Americans,” she said. “Attack the military;
attack the president; attack the State Department; attack
the former senator from the great state of New York,
former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.” Rep. William
Lacy Clay (D-MO) blamed Republicans and congressional
budget cuts for the terror attack, even as he apparently
remains oblivious to the reality that it was Democrats who
insisted the lion’s share of the budget cuts induced by
sequestration come from the military.
Media are also shamelessly entrenched in the campaign
to suppress the facts surround the Benghazi attack.
Politico reports that CBS News execs are getting
“increasingly frustrated” with premiere investigative
reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s stories on Benghazi, which
they consider “dangerously close to advocacy.”
Dangerously close to honesty is more like it, which is
exactly what CBS is worried about. As Washington Post
explains, “While other media, particularly Fox News, have
been similarly skeptical about the official narrative about
Benghazi, Attkisson and CBS might put the story in a
different light,” the paper reports. “As a much-decorated
reporter from a news outlet often derided by conservatives
as a liberal beacon, Attkisson and her network flip the
usual script on this highly politicized story. That is, it’s hard
to peg her and her network as Republican sympathizers
out to score political points against a Democratic
president.” With Attkisson, a self-described “political
agnostic,” questioning the administration, Bengahzi can no
longer be dismissed by the left as a vast right-wing
conspiracy. “People can say what they want about me, I
don’t care,” Attkisson says. “I just want to get the
information out there.”
Attkisson notwithstanding, it remains to be seen whether
the remainder of the mainstream media will now demand
answers from the Obama administration on why it chose
to needlessly throw American servicemen to the wolves in
Benghazi and why, exactly, it was necessary to contrive a
totally false account of events. The Obama administration
is fighting hard to distract from the severity of the scandal.
White House press secretary Jay Carney claimed that
continued scrutiny of Benghazi is nothing more than an
attempt by Republicans to ”politicize” the issue. ”This is a
subject that has from its beginning been subject to
attempts to politicize it by Republicans, while in fact what
happened in Benghazi was a tragedy,” he said, adding
that the incident has been ”been looked at exhaustively.”
Carney further noted that the ongoing pursuit is ”part of an
effort to chase after what isn’t the substance here.” The
entire substance, according to Carney, is the reality that
the consulate was attacked, four Americans were killed,
and the president will make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Carney saved his most ridiculous assertion for last,
claiming the administration’s editing of the talking points,
in which wholesale changes and rampant deletions were
made, (the details of which can be seen here) were
“stylistic and not substantive.” “We’ve been very clear
about the specific edits that were made at the suggestion
of the White House.”
That is an utter lie. Version one of the CIA report included
references to an “attack,” “Islamic extremists with ties to al
Qa’ida,” the involvement of Ansar al Sharia and the fact
that “wide availability of weapons and experienced fighters
in Libya contributed to the lethality of the attacks,” which
were all completely removed. Furthermore, at no time did
any of the versions mention an anti-Islamic Internet video
as being the catalyst for the attack.
The Obama administration can try spin this debacle any
way it likes, but it can’t spin away four dead Americans,
two separate “stand down” orders and the State
Department’s advanced knowledge of inadequate security.
They can’t change the reality that no rescue was even
attempted over the course of a seven-hour battle, that
brave Americans were left to fend for themselves, or that
the administration sat on the details of this story for eight
months — two most crucial of which occurred prior to the
2012 election. Even now the administration continues to
stonewall every effort to get to the truth.
But with the truth finally coming to the surface, the
remaining question observers are left with is why the
Obama administration abandoned Americans who were
easily within reach. While the lies used to cover up this
disaster are easy to explain, the rationale behind the
unconscionable stand down orders must still be
determined. As the facts stand now, the likely explanations
do not bode well for President Obama. The circumstances
suggest the decision was made by a callous and
desperate president struggling with a re-election campaign,
a central plank of which was that al-Qaeda had been
decimated and was “on the run” — not something affirmed
by news of al-Qaeda operatives’ murder of our
ambassador and military personnel. Or perhaps our
commander-in-chief was too busy being our campaigner-
in-chief and simply didn’t care about the carnage unfolding
on his watch, which he declined to prevent. In any case, it
is incumbent on the Obama administration to provide a
rationale for its disastrous decision. As persistent
Americans have shown, the investigation will not cease
until that occurs.
Latest on Benghazi: Whistleblowers give Congress blow-by-blow account
of deadly diplomatic attack
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By - The Washington Times
May 8, 2013, 11:06AM
Left to right: State Department officials Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism ... more >
Benghazi ‘talking points’ altered, White House and State Dept. officials say
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Democrats Wednesday pooh-poohed charges of a cover-up of the Benghazi terror attacks last year,
saying charges from Republican lawmakers and State Department employees were overblown and
had been answered.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Benghazi Attack Under Microscope
“I don’t think there’s a smoking gun here today,” said Rep. Mark Pocan, Wisconsin Democrat. “Not
even a lukewarm slingshot.”
Mr. Pocan is a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which held a
hearing Wednesday to take testimony from State Department officials, including one who was one
the ground in Libya during the attack, which killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three
While Republicans on the panel raised questions about the Obama administration’s handling of the
attack and its aftermath, many Democrats in their questions rushed to the administration’s defense.
Democratic Rep. John Tierney of Massachusetts said the House Intelligence Committee had already
looked at the issue of controversial “talking points” prepared by officials a few days after the attack.
References to al Qaeda’s possible involvement in the attack were struck from the document, leading
Republicans to charge that the White House had engineered the changes to hide al Qaeda’s
involvement and help the president’s reelection campaign.
“Gen. Petraeus, the former head of the CIA, made it clear that the change was made to protect
classified sources of information — not to spin it, not to politicize it — and it wasn’t done at the
direction of the White House,” Mr. Tierney insisted.
SEE RELATED: Benghazi ‘talking points’ altered, White House and State Dept. officials say
— David Sands
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday he could not immediately respond to live
testimony from the House hearing on the 2012 Benghazi attack.
“What I can tell you is that it was the assessment of our intelligence community that the attacks were
participated in by extremists,” he told reporters at a regular daily briefing. “That’s what I’ve said.
That’s what Ambassador [Susan E.] Rice said. She said on that Sunday that extremists were
involved. What we didn’t know is what their exact affiliation was.”
— Susan Crabtree
On several occasions during Tuesday’s hearing, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee
sought to re-examine U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice’s appearances on Sunday
talk shows after the Benghazi attacks.
During the appearances, Mrs. Rice argued that the attacks had grown out of a spontaneous
demonstration against a U.S.-made anti-Islam video, as similar demonstrations had been occuring in
other Mideast cities at the time.
House Republicans have accused the Obama White House and senior State Department officials of
omitting references to al Qaeda, or terrorism in talking points that were given to Mrs. Rice, despite
believing that the Benghazi attack had been carried out by Islamist extremists linked to al Qaeda.
Such omissions, the Republicans have argued, were made for political reasons ahead of last
November’s presidential election — in order to protect Mr. Obama from being criticized for failing to
prevent a terrorist attack that had killed Americans in Libya.
During one exchange on Tuesday, Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, also homed in on
the fact that Mrs. Rice’s talkshow remarks directly contradicted statements made the same day by
Libyan President Mohammed Magariaf, who described the attacks as being carried out by Islamic
extremists with possible terrorist links.
Mr. Gowdy asked Gregory N. Hicks, who had been the State Department’s Deputy Chief of Mission
for the U.S. in Libya at the time of the attacks, whether Mrs. Rice had spoken with him prior to
appearing “on five Sunday talk shows?”
“No sir,” answered Mr. Hicks, who was then the second highest-ranking U.S. official in Libya.
“So Ambassador Rice directly contradicts the evidence on the ground in Libya. She directly
contradicts the president of Libya. She directly contradicts the last statement uttered by Ambassador
Stevens,” said Mr. Gowdy, who then asked Mr. Hicks: “Who is Beth Jones?”
Mr. Hicks responded that Mrs. Jones is “the acting assistant secretary for near eastern affairs at the
In a moment of rich theater for the hearing, Mr. Gowdy then went on to read an excerpt from an
email, which he claimed that Mrs. Jones had sent to others at the State Department — several days
before Mrs. Rice appeared on the talkshows.
In the email, according to Mr. Gowdy, Mrs. Jones wrote that she had spoken with the Libyan
ambassador to Washington and “I told him that the group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-
Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic terrorists.”
“Let me say that again,” said Mrs. Gowdy. “She told him, the State Department, on September 12,
days before our ambassador went on national television, is telling the ambassador to Libya the
group that conducted teh attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with terrorists.”
In light of the email, Mr. Gowdy added, “why in the world would Susan Rice go on five Sunday talk
shows and perpetuate a demonstrably false narrative?”
Mr. Hicks responded that he could not provide an answer to the question, but that perhaps Mr.
Gowdy should ask Mrs. Rice.
“I would love the opportunity to do just that,” said Mr. Gowdy.
— Guy Taylor
Former Secretary of State Hilary R. Clinton was the only person empowered by law to authorize the
occupation of U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya before the deadly terror attacks there last year,
because the buildings did not meet State Department security standards, a House hearing heard
“It’s my understanding only the secretary of state could waive those requirements,” said Eric
Nordstrom, who was regional security officer for the embassy in Libya until a few months before the
The security standards were introduced after the bombing attacks against U.S. embassies in East
Africa in 1998, he said.
“We did not meet any of those standards,” he said of the building in Benghazi, which was overrun
and set ablaze by heavily armed extremists on Sept. 11 last year.
He spoke at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which heard
testimony from State Department officials who were on the ground in Libya before and during the
He said the State Department-chartered investigation, known as an Accountability Review Board or
ARB, had failed to interview senior-enough officials.
“It stopped short of the very people it should have asked — Undersecretary for Management [Patrick]
Kennedy and above,” he said.
— Shaun Waterman
During his moment-by-moment account of the attack, Gregory N. Hicks — the State Department’s
Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. in Libya at the time — said mortar rounds that rained down on
the CIA annex in Benghazi were “terribly precise.”
After Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens had gone missing, a group of Americans fleeing the
besieged U.S. consulate building in the city had arrived at the CIA annex a few miles away.
“Shortly after they arrived at the annex, the mortars came in,” said Mr. Hicks, adding that the “first
mortar round was long,” or off-target, as it landed among a group of Libyans, who had just helped to
transport the Americans to the facility.
“The next was short,” he said. “The next three landed on the roof.”
Those were the rounds that killed former Navy SEALS Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods and severly
wounded another American, Mr. Hicks said.
“They didn’t know whether any more mortars were going to come in,” he said. “The accuracy was
terribly precise. The call was, the next one is coming through the roof, maybe, if it hit.”
He added that two Americans who’d rushed from Tripoli to Benghazi on the night of the attack then
“climbed up on the roof.”
“They carried Glen’s body and Tyrone’s body down,” said Mr. Hicks, adding that another American
on the roof was also wounded.
“One guy … [in] combat gear, climbed up there, strapped David … who’s a large man, to his back,
carried him down the ladder, saved him,” he said.
It was not immediately clear during the testimony whether Mr. Hicks was referring to David
McFarland, whom he earlier said was serving as the State Department’s political section chief in
Libya at the time of the attacks.
— Guy Taylor
Providing a moment-by-moment account of the Benghazi attack during the hearing, Gregory N.
Hicks — the State Department’s deputy chief of Mission for the U.S. in Libya at the time — said once
it was clear U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was separated from other Americans, the
immediate concern was that he had fallen into the hands of a group known to sympathize with al
Mr. Hicks said U.S. officials scrambling to figure out what was happening began to get information
from sources around Benghazi about the attacks.
“We began to hear also that the ambassador’s been taken to a hospital,” he said. “We learn that it is
in a hospital which is controlled by Ansar al-Shariah, the group that Twitter feeds had identified as
leading the attack on the consulate.”
The information came in as a “response team” was arriving at the Benghazi airport from the U.S.
Embassy in Tripoli, Mr. Hicks said.
“At this point, this response team looks like it may be a hostage rescue team,” he said. “We are
going to need to send them to try to save the ambassador who is in the hospital that is, as far as we
know, under enemy control.”
He added that he and other officials began to worry whether they were being “baited into a trap.”
— Guy Taylor
The U.S. special forces personnel who were told to stand down from a relief mission to Benghazi
after the terror attacks there last year would have been used to secure the airport, not to defend U.S.
facilities, which were already being evacuated, lawmakers were told Wednesday.
A hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee heard testimony from
Gregory N. Hicks, the man who took over from U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens after the
ambassador and three other Americans perished in the attacks.
“We wanted to send a second team to secure the airport,” said Mr. Hicks, adding the four special
forces personnel were “furious” they were not allowed to go.
He said the order to stand down came early in the morning, when the first phase of the attack was
over and the second just about to begin. By the time the Libyan military plane that would have
carried them took off on schedule for Benghazi at 6 a.m., the second phase was also over.
By that time, the U.S. buildings in Benghazi had all been evacuated and the personnel were en route
to the airport.
— Shaun Waterman
Libyan security personnel were also killed in the terror attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya
last year, lawmakers were reminded Wednesday.
Gregory N. Hicks, the man who took over from U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens after the
ambassador and three other Americans perished in the attacks, said Libyan personnel had escorted
a small reinforcement team from Benghazi airport to the CIA building known as the annex, arriving
just before 5 am.
Within minutes, while the Libyans were still outside the building, the second phase of the attack
began, when extremists rained mortar rounds down on the annex.
One of the first shots landed among the Libyan security personnel, Mr. Hicks said.
“They took casualties,” he said.
— Shaun Waterman
During opening testimony, Gregory N. Hicks, who was the State Department’s Deputy Chief of
Mission for the U.S. in Libya and was in Tripoli at the time of the Benghazi attacks, gave a moment-
by-moment account of the night on which U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was killed.
Mr. Hicks said he had spoken on the telephone early in the evening with Mr. Stevens and that there
were no signs of unusual activity in Benghazi. Closing up shop for the evening in Tripoli, Mr. Hicks
said he headed to a villa where he was staying and began relaxing and watching television.
Alerted by staff during the evening that an attack had begun in Benghazi, Mr. Hicks said he checked
his cell phone and saw there were two missed calls, one from the Mr. Stevens’ cell phone and
another from a number he didn’t recognize.
Mr. Hicks said he quickly called back the number he didn’t recognize and Mr. Stevens answered.
“Greg! We’re under attack!” said the ambassador, according to Mr. Hicks.
— Guy Taylor
During his own opening statement, Rep. Elija E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat and the House
Oversight Committee’s ranking member shot back that Mr. Issa has willfully leveled a host partisan
and “false accusations” at the Obama administration regarding Benghazi.
“What we have seen over the past two weeks is a full-scale media campaign that is not designed to
investigate what happened in a responsible and bipartisan manner, but rather to launch unfounded
accusations and to smear public officials,” Mr. Cummings said.
“Chairman Issa has accused the administration of intentionally withholding military assets, which
could have helped save lives on the night of the attacks, for political reasons,” he said. “Of all the
irresponsible allegations leveled over the past two weeks, this is the most troubling, and based on
what our military commanders have told us, this allegation is false.”
— Guy Taylor
Mr. Issa opened the hearing by saying that his goal was a simple one: “To make certain that our
government learns the proper lessons from this tragedy so that it never happens again.”
Mr. Issa shot back at Democratic claims that this is all politically driven by claiming that time and
again over the past eight months the minority side has “sat silent” while Republicans sought answers
from the administration about Benghazi.
The “administration has not been cooperative,” Mr. Issa said.
— Guy Taylor
Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, officially launches the hearing.
News photographers and camera crews swarm the House Committee on Oversight and Government
Reform hearing room in anticipation of whistle-blower testimony into the deadly attack on the U.S.
mission in Benghazi, Libya. The hearing is set to begin in moments.
It’s standing room only in the hearing room, with a line of 50 people standing outside the door.
Reporters are jockeying with congressional staffers for seats.
— Guy Taylor
Senior White House and State Department officials played a much larger role than they
acknowledged in drafting erroneous administration “talking points” about the Sept. 11 terrorist attack
in Benghazi, Libya, according to congressional investigators preparing for a dramatic hearing
Wednesday in the House.
The House Oversight and Government Reform committee at 11:30 a.m. will hear from the man who
took charge of the U.S. mission to Libya after the Benghazi attack left Ambassador J. Christopher
Stevens and three other Americans dead.
The Obama administration’s handling of the assault, and the way top officials first characterized the
assault as a protest rather than a terrorist attack, will come under new scrutiny.
“I thought it was a terrorist attack from the get-go,” Gregory N. Hicks told congressional investigators.
“I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning.”
— Shaun Waterman
Sen. Lindsey Graham said testimony on Capitol Hill Wednesday from former U.S. diplomats on the
Benghazi attacks will challenge the Obama administration’s version of events and show that more
could have been done to save the four people who died.
The South Carolina Republican said that the witnesses will say it was a terrorist attack from the “get
go” and that there were other assets in the region that could have been deployed as part of a
response to the attack.
“I think the story of Benghazi is that after the attack — seven weeks before an election — there was
an effort by some senior people to put a political spin on this rather than to tell the story that it was a
terrorist attack from the get go because they were so close to the election,” Mr. Graham said during
an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
— Seth McLaughlin
Whistle-blower: Botched talking points hurt FBI probe of Benghazi
Published May 08, 2013
Highlights from House hearing on Benghazi
Why was Benghazi a national security cover-up?
McCain 'saddened' but 'not surprised' by Benghazi...
A key Benghazi whistle-blower, responding to Democratic claims that the prolonged
scrutiny over the administration's botched talking points is unwarranted, testified
Wednesday that the early mischaracterization of the attack may have actually hurt the
"I definitely believe that it negatively affected our ability to get the FBI team quickly to
Benghazi," said Greg Hicks, the deputy chief of mission in Libya who became the top
U.S. diplomat in the country after Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed. He claimed the
Libyan president was angered by the mischaracterization, in turn slowing the U.S. probe.
The claim was one of several new accounts given at Wednesday's high-profile hearing
where three whistle-blowers testified.
Democrats, while giving deference to the officials and their version of events, used the
hearing to try and deflect criticism away from the administration. In particular, they
rejected the notion that early talking points on the attack were deliberately changed, to
downplay terrorism, for political reasons.
"People who have actually seen the documents, who have actually conducted a real
investigation completely reject the allegation that they were made for political purposes,"
Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., said.
But the substance of the claims Wednesday could serve to re-open questions about that
deadly night -- and specifically about the initial claim by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice
that the attack was triggered by a protest over an anti-Islam film.
"I think the American people learned today ... the facts as we were told before, during
and after Benghazi simply aren't as they were," Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the
oversight committee holding the hearing, said.
'I definitely believe that it negatively affected our ability to get the FBI team quickly to
- Greg Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Libya
Hicks was asked to respond to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's statement at a
prior hearing asking "what difference" do the questions over the talking points make.
Hicks argued that Rice's comments so insulted the Libyan president -- since they
contradicted his Sept. 16 claims that the attack was premeditated -- that it slowed the
"President Magariaf was insulted in front of his own people, in front of the world. His
credibility was reduced," Hicks said, adding that the president was apparently "still
steamed" two weeks later.
This bad blood, he claimed, contributed to the FBI team being stuck in Tripoli for about
17-18 days. He added that the U.S. could not even get the Libyans to secure the crime
scene during that time.
As for Rice's comments that Sunday, when she repeatedly cited the video as the trigger
for the attack, Hicks said his "jaw dropped" when he heard that.
"I was stunned," Hicks said. "My jaw dropped, and I was embarrassed."
He said Rice never talked to him before those appearances.
Hicks said the only information coming out of his team was that there was an "attack" on
the consulate. "The YouTube video was a non-event in Libya," he said.
State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell disputed Hicks' version of events, noting
the Libyan government gave visas to the FBI team as soon as their paperwork was
"The team could not travel to Benghazi for some time due to the security situation on
the ground," he said, noting the Libyan president voiced "readiness" to cooperate in late
As for Rice's Sept. 16 comments, he said it would have been "irresponsible" for Rice to
have backed what the Libyan president said "on the spot," when it was "inconsistent
with our own intelligence community's current best assessment that there was not any
evidence of months-long pre-planning or pre-meditation, which remains their
At the hearing, Hicks also detailed alleged retaliation in the department. He claimed that,
when he asked a superior about the Rice interviews, he was told "he should not
proceed" with his questions. He was later given a "blistering critique" of his
management style and effectively demoted to "desk officer," he claimed.
Hicks' testimony marked some of the most detailed of any delivered Wednesday. He
and others also suggested the State Department's internal review into the attack was
lacking. Hicks said when he was interviewed by the group, a stenographer was not
In hours of testimony, the witnesses recounted in great detail what happened in eastern
Libya on Sept. 11 and how U.S. personnel came under a series of attacks that left four
Americans dead. Though Democratic officials have argued the attack has been
thoroughly investigated and that the hearing Wednesday was political in nature, the
claims challenged several long-standing assertions by the Obama administration.
The witnesses criticized the lax security at the Benghazi site in the run-up to the attack,
and suggested the military did not do all it good to respond to the scene that night
despite claims to the contrary.
Hicks also revealed that it appeared some were trying to lure even more U.S. personnel
into a separate "ambush" while the attack was still being carried out. He described how,
as diplomatic officials were trying to find out what happened to Stevens, they were
receiving phone calls from supposed tipsters saying they knew where the ambassador
was and urging Americans to come get him.
"We suspected that we were being baited into a trap," Hicks said, adding that he did not
want to send anybody into what he suspected was an "ambush."
Getting choked up, Hicks described how the Libyan prime minister later called him to tell
him Stevens was in fact dead. "I think it's the saddest phone call I've ever had in my
life," he said.
At the very beginning of the attack, before Stevens went missing and was later found
dead, Hicks said his team believed it was terrorism. He said a regional security officer
rushed into his villa yelling, "Greg, Greg, the consulate's under attack."
He then spoke by phone with Stevens who told him the same: "Greg, we're under
After enduring a night of attacks on the U.S. consulate, Hicks said the team departed at
dawn for the nearby annex -- shortly after they arrived, "the mortars came."
Another whistle-blower questioned Wednesday why more military assets were not
deployed sooner during the Benghazi terror attack. Mark Thompson, a former Marine
and official with the State Department's Counterterrorism Bureau, said he was rebuffed
by the White House when he asked for a specialized team -- known as a FEST team --
to be deployed. This is a unit made of special operations personnel, diplomatic security,
intelligence and other officers.
Suggesting that some were hesitant to deploy because they were unsure what was
happening, "One definition of a crisis is you do not know what's going to happen in two
hours," he said.
Further, Hicks explained how a separate team of special forces personnel were not
given the authorization to fly from Tripoli to Benghazi. "They were furious," he said.
Issa defended the witnesses, calling them "actual experts on what really happened
before, during and after the Benghazi attacks," who "deserve to be heard."
The three witnesses were Hicks, Thompson and Eric Nordstrom, a diplomatic security
officer who was formerly the regional security officer in Libya; and Thompson.
"I am a career public servant," Hicks said. "Until the aftermath of Benghazi, I loved
every day of my job."
Nordstrom choked up as he began to testify Wednesday.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., top Democrat on the oversight committee, said
Wednesday that Republicans are using the witnesses' statements for "political
purposes." He said he's glad the whistle-blowers are testifying and would ensure they
are protected, but pre-emptively challenged some of their claims -- including the claim
that U.S. military could have responded sooner to the site of the attack.
The Obama administration has adamantly denied several of the latest charges,
including a claim that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a key aide tried to cut
the department's own counterterrorism bureau out of the chain of reporting and
decision-making on Sept. 11. The administration also denied that the whistle-blowers in
question were intimidated -- while behind the scenes questioning the credibility of the
A "fact sheet" released by the department ahead of the hearing reiterated its denials.
The statement said the department has "demonstrated an unprecedented degree of
cooperation with the Congress" on Libya, and rejected claims that the military was in a
position to help that night but was told to stand down. Citing its internal review, the
statement noted the review "found no evidence of any undue delays in decision making
or denial of support from Washington or from the military combatant commanders."
Benghazi Whistle-Blower Hicks: Stand Down Order Came From AFRICOM
or SOCAFRICA (Video)
Posted by Jim Hoft on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 12:35 PM
Mr. Hicks testified this morning that the stand down order for the rescue team in Tripoli
came from either AFRICOM or SOCAFRICA. General Ham. leader of AFRICOM, may have
been in Washington DC at the time.
So who ordered AFRICOM to stand down?
AFRICOM leader General Carter Ham was never given the order to secure the consulate
in Benghazi. This is what the general told Rep. Jason Chaffetz after the 9-11 Benghazi terror
attack. That means only Barack Obama or Defense Secretary Panetta, the two men
above the AFRICOM commander, never ordered an operation to secure the
UPDATE: General Ham was replaced after the Benghazi massacre.
Hicks: Special Forces ‘Furious’ Upon Being Told to
By NRO Staff
May 8, 2013 1:31 PM
According to Benghazi whistleblower Gregory Hicks, the deputy chief of mission in Libya,
special forces were “furious” when they were told to stand down during the Benghazi attack. “I
will quote Lieutenant Colonel Gibson,” Hicks told the House Oversight Committee in hearings
today, “He said, ‘This is the first time in my career that a diplomat has more balls than somebody
in the military.’”
The Delicate Parsing of "Stand Down" in the Benghazi Hearing
By Emma Roller
Posted Wednesday, May 8, 2013, at 4:46 PM
Gregory Hicks (C), Foreign Service Officer and former Deputy Chief of Mission/Charge d’Affairs in Libya, speaks during a
hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Capitol Hill
Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
There's no doubt the testimony in today's hearing on the Benghazi attack was riveting and emotional—
two of the three witnesses choked up during their testimony while talking about the four embassy
employees who were killed the night of Sept. 11, 2012. But aside from the timeline of events (which was
fascinating to hear firsthand—more on that later) it revealed little new information about the State
Department's supposed culpability in mishandling the attack.
Here's what I found was the most interesting exchange from the hearing: Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH)
prodded the witness Gregory Hicks, the former Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya, about the State
Department's "stand down" order. That's the allegation that State told a Special Forces team based in
Tripoli to not fly to Benghazi to help evacuate embassy personnel there. The thing is, none of the
witnesses actually uttered the magic words "stand down" in their testimony (as far as I heard), so there is
some news in that Hicks is now basically saying the Pentagon lied.
First, here's what a Pentagon spokesman told USA Today this week:
Maj. Robert Firman, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday, "There was never any kind of stand-down
order to anybody."
On Tuesday, Firman said the military is trying to assess the incident Hicks is referring to, but the
aircraft in question wound up evacuating a second wave of Americans from Benghazi to Tripoli, not
transporting rescuers to a firefight.
And here's the exchange from today's hearing, starting around the 3-minute mark:
Turner: Now, do you know why they were told to stand down? Did Colonel Gibson give you any
information or understanding?
Hicks: I actually don’t know why.
Turner: Is there any reason to believe that the situation in Benghazi was over? There were a number
of series of attacks, as you’ve described it to us. Any reason to describe that there was no longer any
danger in Benghazi?
Hicks: No, it was every reason to continue to believe that our personnel were in danger.
Turner: Mr. Hicks, Mr. Chaffetz has given me an article that appeared in USA Today just this week.
And just as early as last Monday, Major Robert Firman, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the military's
account that was first issued weeks after the attacks hasn’t changed. “There was never any kind of
stand-down order to anybody.” Now, that’s a pretty broad statement, “anybody.” What’s your reaction
to the quote by Mr. Firman?
Hicks: I can only again repeat that Lieutenant Colonel Gibson said he was not to proceed to board the
Turner: So your first-hand experience being on the site, standing next to Colonel Gibson, who was on
his way on that C-130 transport and being told not to go, contradicts what Mr. Firman is saying on
behalf of the Pentagon?
Hicks: Yes sir.
Later, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) asked Hicks who gave Lt. Col. Gibson the "stand-down" order. "He did
not identify the person," Hicks said. And therein lies you know what.
Source: Only President Could Have Made 'Stand Down' Call On Benghazi
by Kerry Picket7 May 20 131235post a com ment
A source with intimate information about the events that happened on the ground in
Benghazi the night the U.S. Consulate and the CIA annex was attacked by terrorists
told Breitbart News that, ultimately, only the President of the United States, or
someone acting on his authority, could have prevented Special Forces either on the
ground or nearby from helping those Americans who were under deadly assault.
According to the source, when the attack on the Consulate occurred, a specific chain of
command to gain verbal permission to move special-forces in must have occurred.
SOCAFRICA commander Lieutenant Col. Gibson would have contacted a desk officer at
the time, asking for that permission.
That desk officer would have called Marine Corps Col. George Bristol, then in command
of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara. From there, Bristol would have
made contact with Rear Admiral Brian Losey, then Commander of Special Operations
Command Africa. Losey would have contacted four-star General Carter Ham,
commander of U.S. AFRICOM at the time.
“Ham answers directly to the President of the United States,” said the source. It wasn’t a
low-level bureaucrat making the call, the source adamantly added.
That call may have been made early in the engagement. Both Secretary of Defense Leon
Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey testified in January that
they had no further communication with President Barack Obama after an initial
briefing in the early hours of the Benghazi crisis, which continued through the night.
But what about then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?
“I have a hard time thinking it was Hillary alone. Hillary may have tried to circumvent
the counterterrorism board and deal with this. I think in order for her to tell General
Ham, ‘No, you’re not going to get involved,' she would have had to talk to the president.
The president would have had to say, ‘No, take your commands from Hillary.’ He would
have had said something, because Ham does not work for the Department of State; he
works directly for the president,” the source explained.
The lack of clarity surrounding orders given during the Benghazi attacks is a stark
contrast to the clarity projected after the successful Osama bin Laden raid in May 2011,
when administration officials were keen to attribute responsibility for the orders to the
Witnesses with firsthand information about the Benghazi attacks will appear before the
House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
State Department employees Mark Thompson, Gregory Hicks, and Eric Nordstrom are
expected to be whistleblower witnesses who will reveal information about State’s
reaction to the attacks that has not been released previously.
AWR Hawkins contributed to this report.