As with Watergate, all of this could have seen the light of day prior to the election, but it was covered up through deliberate [in]action and aided by an apathetic Old School Media that would rather lay down by the One’s feet.
1. There were multiple stand-down orders, not just one. Special operations forces were told, twice, by their chain of command not to board aircraft to Benghazi to rescue the Americans then under attack. The U.S. deputy diplomat, Greg Hicks, testified that the military commander, Lt. Col. Gibson, had his team ready to go twice. They were on the runway about to board a flight to Benghazi in the middle of the attack. They were ordered to stand down and remain in Tripoli to receive wounded who would be coming out of Benghazi. One of the orders came in the middle of the attack, the other came toward the end after Hicks’ team had traveled from Tripoli to Benghazi. The fact that Hicks’ team was able get to Benghazi before the end of the assault strongly suggests that the special operations team could have made a real difference.
2. Ambassador Stevens’ reason for going to Benghazi has been cleared up. Hicks testified that Ambassador Stevens traveled to Benghazi to fulfill one of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s wishes. Despite the fact that security was worsening in Benghazi for months leading up to the 9-11 attack, Clinton wanted to make the post there permanent. Her State Department had denied repeated requests from the U.S. team in Libya to upgrade security there, but she wanted to use the permanent post as a symbol of goodwill. Stevens was committed to that goal and told Clinton he would “make it happen.”
3. Clinton was briefed at 2 am on the night of the attack, was never told that a movie had anything to do with the attack by those on the ground in Libya, yet blamed the movie anyway. Hicks also testified that he was shocked when Ambassador Susan Rice blamed a YouTube movie for inspiring the 9-11 attack. He testified that he had briefed Secretary Clinton directly via phone at 2 a.m. and told her that Benghazi was a terrorist attack. He never mentioned a YouTube video, which he never once believed had anything to do with the attack. During the attack, Clinton told Hicks that no help would be on the way to relieve the Americans under sustained assault.
4. Whistleblowers were intimidated into silence. Hicks testified to a pattern of behavior that leads to the reasonable conclusion that many officials within the State Department wanted him to remain silent after the Benghazi attack. He said that on the night of the attack he was personally commended both by Secretary Clinton and President Barack Obama. But he later questioned why Ambassador Rice blamed the YouTube movie, and from that point on his superior, Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Beth Jones, questioned his “management style” and told him directly that no one in State should want him on their team in the field again. He was eventually demoted to a desk job after having been deputy to Ambassador Stevens, and remains in that post.
5. “The YouTube movie was a non-event in Libya.” Hicks directly testified that the YouTube movie, for which a man remains in jail, was not in any way relevant to the attack in Benghazi. Why Obama, Clinton, Rice et al blamed that movie for the attack remains an unanswered question. Hicks said that no American on the ground in Libya that night believed the movie was to blame. He also testified that there was no protest prior to the attack. When the attack began, he was in Tripoli. He texted Stevens, who was in Benghazi, to advise him of the riot in Cairo at the U.S. embassy. In that riot, jihadists had stormed the walls and replaced the American flag with the black flag of Islam. Stevens had not been aware of the Cairo situation at all, but shortly after Hicks texted him about it, Stevens called and told Hicks that the Benghazi consulate was under attack. He never mentioned a protest.
Hicks also testified that blaming the movie had strongly adverse real-world effects. According to him, it humiliated Libya’s president, who had correctly stated that Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Blaming the movie, Hicks said, did “immeasurable damage” to our relations with Libya and delayed the FBI investigation. On Sept. 12, Ambassador Susan Rice told the first of her many untruths, claiming in an email that the FBI investigation into the attack was already underway. It would not actually get underway for 17 days after the attack, by which time the scene of the attack had been compromised and contaminated.
6. Democrats were uninterested in getting at most of the facts, but were very interested in destroying Mark Thompson. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) set the tone for the Democrats’ angle on the hearings in his opening remarks. He used his opening to attack the committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, and to pre-question the witnesses. Most of the Democrats who followed him failed to ask many questions of the witnesses. Instead, they delivered speeches or blamed budget cuts, an argument that has already been debunked by the State Department itself.
7. House hearings are a poor way to determine who did what and why during and after the attack. The Republicans, as I said, should have broken today’s hearing out across several days. When they did question the witnesses, they kept their speeches short and focused on getting answers. Their Democratic counterparts consistently gave speeches and raised red herrings. They were able to waste time and stall long enough for the Arias trial to push the hearing off the TV, and for energy to flag and boredom to set in.