Who gave the order to stand down?
Who sent the drone to be used as a voyeur instead of a counter-attack weapon?
Who in the State Department made the decision to pull out three Mobile Security Deployment teams in August of 2012, telling the embassy to “do more with less”?
Who kept refusing to send extra security to the embassy?
Who exactly in the Obama regime went to all the trouble to scour the bowels of the YouTube library for an obscure video to blame for what was part of the muzzie rampage that had been going on for 21 months?
Mark Thompson, the acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism.
Gregory Hicks, a foreign service officer and former deputy chief of mission/chargé d’affairs in Libya.
Eric Nordstrom, diplomatic security officer and former regional security officer in Libya.
Live blogging of the testimony at Big Journalism. (Breitbart)
Live updates at Breitbart:
12:02 AM EDT: First witness is Mark I. Thompson. Says State Dept. told him it was not “right time” to send team to besieged mission.
12:06 AM EDT: Second witness is Hicks. Setting up his background, reputation as man who gets things done–“Ambassador’s bulldog.” “Until Benghazi,” he says, “I loved my job.”
12:10 AM EDT: Third witness is Eric Nordstrom. Tears up after mentioning his friends at State Dept.
12:15 AM EDT: Hicks describing how he found out about attack. Says Chris Stevens did not know about Cairo attack until he (Hicks) texted him.
12:18 AM EDT: Full statements from each witness:
12:23 AM EDT: Hicks describes “four phases” of the night. First is attack on consulate, whose details he says many in public have already learned. Says estimates were up to 60 attackers in compound.
12:25 AM EDT: Hicks: second phase took place from about 11:30 – 1:30, consisted of probing attacks from terrorists. Tripoli response team arrived at ~1:15 AM.
12:40 p.m. EDT: Some notable points from Hicks’s riveting testimony:
1. We are hearing stories of heroism that have never yet been told to the American public–of the brave response team of six men who drove off 60 terrorists in the first phase of the attack, of the diplomatic staff in Tripoli who scrambled to protect their colleagues and the American mission, of the Libyans who sacrificed their own lives to protect Americans.
2. We have yet to hear one word about a protest or demonstration in Benghazi about the anti-Islam video that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blamed for the attack. Ambassador Chris Stevens told Hicks, “We’re under attack!” He never mentioned a protest, and the report of the attack was the first Hicks heard of anything unusual.
3. The administration was totally unprepared to defend the embassy in Tripoli or the consulate in Benghazi. When Hicks asked what kind of help might be available, he was told that the closest available military resources were fighter jets a few hours away. They could not be sent because there were no refueling planes available. An inexcusable lack of preparedness.
In those first moments of the attack, a request for military back-up was made by U.S. staff on the ground but was denied by Washington. It had planes and Special Forces less than 500 miles away in southern Italy – or about the same distance as Washington to Boston. They could have been there in less than two hours.
Yet Obama declined to give the order.
Cummings’ response to Hicks’ emotional testimony: ‘Death is part of life’. How profound. How mindless.
Stop digging, Cummings.
12:55 p.m. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) asks Hicks whether Amb. Stevens, or the Prime Minister of Libya, mentioned anything about a protest or demonstration outside the Benghazi consulate. “No, sir.”
Asked about UN Ambassador Susan Rice’s assertions about a protest on the Sunday talk shows: “I was stunned,” Hicks says. “My jaw dropped.”
1:02 p.m. EDT: Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), given an opportunity to question the witnesses, launches a tirade against Republicans who “attacked” President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, including the committee chair, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). She hones in on a controversy about a cable that Issa alleged Clinton signed, arguing that Clinton’s name had merely appeared on the bottom of the cable.
1:07 p.m. EDT: Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) drills down on the question of whether military personnel were authorized to travel after the attack to help rescue and escort diplomatic personnel from Benghazi. Hicks says that military personnel did not have authorization and did not travel, leaving the duty to diplomatic personnel. He recalls a comment made at the time: “First time in my career that a diplomat has more balls than our military.”
Rep Chaffetz: “How did the [military] personnel respond to being told to Stand Down.”
DCM Hicks: “They were furious.”
1:13 p.m. EDT: Rep. Chaffetz presents evidence that help might have been able to arrive in time. He concludes by making the point that the question is irrelevant anyway, because “We had no idea how long, or when this was going to end.”
1:16 p.m. EDT: D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton asks Thompson whether a quote about the counter-terrorism bureau of the State Department being circumvented is accurate. He replies that it is not, and objects to her implication that he would have said or done something out of political motives. She cuts him off.
In a subsequent answer, Thompson tries to explain that a portion of the bureau that would have been most effective was not involved–and Holmes Norton cuts him off again. Thompson is visibly irritated.
1:26 p.m. EDT: Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) continues the Democrats’ attack on Issa, objecting to the charge that the American public was deliberately misled. The Democrats’ resource on this is the Washington Post, which gave one of Issa’s statements “four Pinnochios” but only gave the administration’s original story about the protest “two Pinnochios.” The same Washington Post that is mocking people watching the hearings.
1:29 p.m. EDT: Tierney continues by attempting to trip up Nordstrom regarding the change to the administration’s talking points. Nordstrom reiterates that there was no report from the U.S. mission in Libya about a protest.
1:35 p.m. EDT: Rep. Jim Jordan leads a line of questioning to Hicks in which he elicits testimony that the State Department tried to dissuade him from speaking to members of the Oversight Committee, and attempted to place a lawyer in between him and committee members, including attending classified meetings. Hicks confirms that this had never happened before in his career, and that a lawyer who assisted Secretary Clinton directly was upset about the investigation.
1:40 p.m. EDT: Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) renews an old and discredited line of attack, blaming Republican-supported budget cuts for the lack of security in Benghazi. As Breitbart News’ AWR Hawkins pointed out in January, testimony in October 2012 by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Charlene Lamb confirmed that budget considerations were not an issue.
Issa asks Clay whether he was there that day. Clay does not remember.
Cummings counters that the Accountability Review Board report said that resources were an issue. But as Breitbart News’ John Sexton pointed out yesterday, “the official State Dept. report on Benghazi did not claim that insufficient resources were directly responsible for the security cuts made in Benghazi, though it did recommend raising the overall budget by 2015.
1:45 p.m. EDT: Rep. John Mica answers Cummings by raising another issue: the State Department’s Accountability Review Board (ARB) did not interview key witnesses such as Thompson, and only interviewed Hicks for two hours, hardly long enough (both witnesses concur). As Breitbart News’ Kerry Picket noted last week, the ARB did not even interview Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for its Benghazi report. The Inspector General of the State Department is now reviewing the review board, which the State Department insists is a fairly routine matter but is almost certainly prompted by the glaring weaknesses in the Benghazi investigation.
The Accountability Review Board “investigation” was an obvious whitewash. Hillary wasn’t going to accept responsibility for a goddamned thing and she made sure her internal ‘report’ reflected that.
1:55 p.m. EDT: Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) focuses on the crux of the matter. There were two stand-down orders, he says–one the decision not to send the State Department’s FEST team, and the other the order to Lt. Colonel Gibson not to board a C-130 that was on its way to intervene. He asks Hicks to elaborate on the latter.
Hicks says he does not know why the stand-down order was given, and says there was every reason to believe U.S. personnel were still in danger at the time the order was given. Hicks remembers his reaction: “OK, we’re on our own, we’re going to have to try to pull this off with the resources available.” He says the Libyans working for the U.S. diplomatic mission were surprised that the military was not going to be sending help.
2:24 p.m. EDT: Hicks, under questioning from Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), insists that there was no protest in Benghazi, and emphasizes: “The YouTube video was a non-event in Libya.”
There are now five major takeaways from the Benghazi hearing thus far.
1. Two “stand-down” orders were given while the Benghazi attacks were in progress.
2. The “protest” about a YouTube video was a complete fabrication by the Obama administration.
3. Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s lawyer at the State Department, told witnesses not to speak to House investigators.
4. The diplomatic personnel on the ground acted with incredible, unheralded heroism.
5. Democrats came to rebut the eyewitnesses with talking points.
2:45 p.m. EDT: Rep. Chaffetz asks Hicks whether there had been any request from the U.S. to the Libyan government for permission to fly anything other than a surveillance drone over Libyan airspace. Hicks says there were not, and that he would have known. Chaffetz also cites an email from Dan Benjamin supporting Thompson’s contention that the counter-terrorism bureau would be kept out of the loop, in which Benjamin indicates that he would not lobby to keep the bureau involved.
3:05 p.m. EDT: Democrats continue with the budget argument, attacking Republicans for cutting the international affairs budget, a portion of which is allocated to diplomatic security.
One problem: guess who else has been “cutting” the international affairs budget? President Barack Obama. His FY2014 request is “flat” compared to last year and a cut compared to some previous years–though within that overall budget, the president does call for increased allocations to diplomatic security.
In point of fact, Democrats’ assumption that the Republican budget cuts diplomatic security is false. The House budget report notes [emphasis original]:
Diplomatic Security. Although this budget does not assume any savings from either the State Department’s Diplomatic Consular Programs or its Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance accounts, there is concern regarding State Department’s prioritization of resources…
In 2012, while requests for additional security to Benghazi were denied by the State Department, the U.S. Embassy in Vienna received a new charging station for its Chevy Volts (electric cars), to combat climate change. The charging station cost $100,000…
This budget recommends that the State Department re-prioritize its re- sources and eliminate wasteful spending.
3:30 p.m. EDT: Hicks just testified that he has been demoted from Deputy Chief of Mission to what amounts to Desk Officer. A classic tactic used against whistleblowers–make their lives miserable without firing them. The fact that Hicks has a storied, highly decorated career does not seem to matter to the State Department.
3:51 p.m. EDT: Nordstrom talks about security requests ignored by the State Department–one of the areas, he notes, which the Accountability Review Board did criticize the Department. Recommendations that were put into the official format of a diplomatic cable, he says, were not well-received because they were seen as creating a way for the State Department to be held accountable.
4:00 p.m. EDT: Nordstrom says people asked him why he kept requesting security: “If you knew she was going to keep saying ‘no,’ why did you keep asking?” His answer: “Because it was the right thing to do.”
The leftwing douchebaggers are in fine form today. The publicity over Obama’s and Hillary’s depraved indifference is putting a real butthurt on them and their talking points. Aside from the mealy-mouthed Dems on the panel like Cummings, Norton, and Maloney, the main stream media is doing its part to cover Obama’s ass:
Who’s tweeting about Benghazi? Rich, middle-aged men
and Chick-fil-A lovers http://wapo.st/18YFgKP
Trey Gowdy (R–South Carolina) read into the record an email from Beth Jones, the acting assistant secretary of State for Near East Affairs. The September 12 email—disclosed for the first time on Wednesday—said Jones had spoken to Libya’s ambassador to Washington, who said the attack was the work of former Gadhafi regime loyalists. Jones said she told the ambassador: “The group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic terrorists.”……Hicks…said there were no reports from U.S. personnel in Libya that there was a demonstration.
- Operation Smear Benghazi Whistleblowers (michellemalkin.com)
- Official: US Special Forces weren’t allowed to fly to Benghazi during attack (openchannel.nbcnews.com)