As members of the American Embassy in Libya were fighting for their lives, the Obama Administration was looking out for its political future. That’s one of the sad conclusions that can be reached from new information that will be given by three whistleblowers at a House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
The testimony is expected to reveal that officials on the ground knew it was a terrorist attack from the beginning, that the White House had in fact been in contact those officials, that a request for reinforcements was denied and that the subsequent talking points were scrubbed to protect Obama’s false narrative.
One of the whistleblowers is Gregory Hicks who was serving as second in command to Ambassador Christopher Stevens the night he was killed in the Benghazi attacks. Hicks, who was on the ground at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, took a frantic call from Stevens that night letting him know exactly what type of attack this was. CBS News reports:
“Greg, we are under attack,” Ambassador Stevens told Hicks on the phone. Those were the last words he heard from Stevens.
According to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif, who appeared Sunday on “Face the Nation,” Hicks recently testified privately to the House Oversight Committee: ‘I never reported a demonstration. I reported an attack on the consulate…I thought it was a terrorist attack from the get-go. I think everyone in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning.”
Sadly, those reports were flat out ignored by the Obama administration.
But nothing came. Embassy officials repeatedly asked for help from one of the nearby military installations, from Aviano, the NATO airbase in Italy, to the Souda Bay U.S. Naval Base, just an hour away. Every time the answer was, “No.”
When American Special Forces soldiers were finally preparing to board a place that would send them on a rescue mission to the Embassy, they were specifically told to stand down.
“So Lieutenant Colonel Gibson, who is the SOCAFRICA commander, his team, you know, they were on their way to the vehicles to go to the airport to get on the C-130 when he got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, you can’t go now, you don’t have authority to go now,” Hicks told the House Oversight committee.
Of course none of this was part of the Obama Administration’s story. Rather, they tried to paint a much different picture to Americans, one that fit in with their narrative that the war on terror was over and that they successfully liberated Libya from Gadhafi. Indeed, documents revealed by the House investigation suggest that the White House was less than forthcoming with what they knew. Fox News reports:
“Removed from the CIA’s so-called talking points were references to “Islamic extremists” and Al Qaeda in Libya. And five days later, Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, made the Sunday talk show rounds to say the attacks were “demonstrations” sparked by protests in Egypt over an anti-Islamic video on YouTube.
However, the video is never mentioned in the numerous talking points drafts, according to a Weekly Standard story last week, based in part on a 43-page House report and records of official emails.”
The new revelations are sparking widespread outcry.
“Well, it was scrubbed,” Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Steve Lynch said on Fox News Sunday. “It was totally inaccurate. There’s no excuse for that. It was false information. And what they try to do is harmonize what happened in Benghazi with what happened everywhere else across the Middle East.”
The White House’s misrepresentation also stunned Hicks. “My jaw hit the floor as I watched [Rice speak],” Hicks told congressional investigators. “I never reported a demonstration; I reported an attack on the consulate.”
Another one of the whistleblowers, Mark Thompson, who was serving as deputy coordinator for operations in the State Department’s counterterrorism bureau, indicates that this wasn’t a simple lack of knowledge on the part of the Administration, it was a deliberate attempt to tamp down damaging information. As Marc Thiessen writes for the Washington Post:
“[Thompson] was in direct, real-time communication with people on the ground during the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Libya, before he was locked out of the room. Yet despite firsthand knowledge of how the attack unfolded, he was not interviewed by the State Department’s Accountability Review Board, even though he asked to be. According to sources I spoke with, Thompson will testify that the circumstances under which Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans have died have been “purposefully misrepresented” by the administration and that “all their public statements from the initial account to the talking points were false, and they knew it.”
All of this was eight months ago. The story has largely fallen off the front pages. But even now Americans deserve to know the truth about what happened in Benghazi. Hopefully, this week we’ll have the opportunity.