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I Whistleblowers: High-level Bureaucratic Errors Caused Benghazi

II Wall Street Journal Version, May 8, 2013 – A riveting account from diplomat right on the scene

III Ambassador John Bolton comment

http://israel-commentary.org/?p=6563

By John Rossomando • May 8, 2013
Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) – Steven Emerson, Executive Director

May 8, 2013

Three State Department whistleblowers told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Wednesday that bureaucratic wrangling led to the tragedy in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012 that left four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, dead.

The whistleblowers included Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of Mission and Charge d’Affairs in Libya; Eric Nordstrom, diplomatic security officer and former State Department regional security officer in Libya; and Mark Thompson, acting deputy assistant secretary for Counterterrorism.

Inadequate security, combined with substandard building requirements at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, resulted in the tragedy, Hicks’ testified.

A seven-member security team was dispatched from Tripoli to Benghazi as soon as reports emerged that the diplomatic mission was under attack. Stevens was reported missing by the time the team arrived, according to a timeline provided by the Defense Department last year.

As the assault unfolded, four Army Special Forces members, part of a second team, were told not to go although they were poised to board a Libyan C-130 bound for Benghazi as early as 1:45 a.m.

“They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it,” Hicks said.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., pressed Hicks on whether Stevens had told him about a demonstration outside the consulate the afternoon before his death.

Stevens had made no mention of any demonstration before the consulate was attacked, Hicks said. He was “shocked and embarrassed” when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on five Sunday morning talk shows the following Sunday to say that the attack had been the result of protests against the “Innocence of Muslims” video.

Gowdy then disclosed the contents of an email sent to top State Department officials the day after the attack saying Ansar al-Shariah was responsible. The email from Beth Jones, acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, was sent to then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“When he (the Libyan ambassador to the United States) told me that former elements of the Gaddafi regime was responsible, I told him that the group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Shariah, is affiliated with Islamic terrorists,” the email said.

Rice’s comments hindered the FBI investigation into the Benghazi attacks because it made getting the Libyans to cooperate more difficult, Hicks said.

Fellow whistleblower Nordstrom testified that the Benghazi consulate was considered temporary and was not built to the specifications needed for a high-risk area.

Nordstrom blamed Clinton for the less-than-secure design of the Benghazi consulate, saying she was the only person who could grant waivers to except it from the standards put in places following the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

All three witnesses placed responsibility for the inadequate security at the Benghazi mission on the higher ups of the Departments of State and Defense. (Obama, H. Clinton, Hagel, Susan Rice and loyal Democratic Party Associates and Enablers) jsk

II Diplomat Airs Benghazi Attack Details in Riveting Account of Libya Raid, Official Knocks Administration Response
Article

Redacted from article by SIOBHAN HUGHES And ADAM ENTOUS

WASHINGTON—A high-ranking American diplomat delivered an emotional reconstruction Wednesday of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, providing the first detailed public account from an American official who was on the ground in Libya.

Gregory Hicks told a House hearing of the harrowing attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

The testimony from Gregory Hicks, the No. 2 U.S. official in Libya at the time, before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee also drew new attention to key questions about the attacks, and how the administration handled the aftermath.

The diplomat said he believes the U.S. military could have done more to assist U.S. personnel on the ground. He also said top officials in Washington overlooked information in their early conclusion, since abandoned, that the attack began as a protest.

The riveting narrative from Mr. Hicks, a career diplomat, could revive an issue that had begun to fade after the re-election of President Barack Obama and the confirmation this year of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Mark Thompson, the deputy coordinator for operations at the State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism in Washington, and Eric Nordstrom, who was in charge of U.S. security in Libya until shortly before the attacks, also testified.

Mr. Hicks recounted his last conversation with U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, his own desperate appeals for help, and the moment he received “the saddest phone call I’ve ever had in my life.” Mr. Stevens and three other Americans died in the attacks.

Mark Thompson, Gregory Hicks and Eric Nordstrom of the State Department give testimony to Congress about the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Photo: Getty Images.

Republicans charge the Obama administration hasn’t told all it knows about the periods before, during and after the assault. The administration and Democrats say that dozens of hours of public testimony and thousands of pages of documents, along with an exhaustive independent investigation, have settled the outstanding questions.

Pentagon officials rebutted Mr. Hicks’ testimony Wednesday, saying the military wasn’t in position to mount a rescue that night, and on that critical matter, the hearing didn’t shed new light. The administration’s allies have called the Republican-led House investigations, under way in five different committees, politically motivated, aimed at discrediting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a leading candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

Mr. Hicks alleged he was demoted for challenging the official line, specifically the picture painted during TV interviews by United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, who said the rampage grew out of a protest over a U.S.-made, anti-Islamic video that sparked anti-American demonstrations across the Mideast and Europe.

“I was stunned, my jaw dropped and I was embarrassed,” Mr. Hicks said of his reaction to Ms. Rice’s statements.

During a return to Washington to attend a funeral for one of the men killed, Mr. Hicks said he was summoned to the office of an undersecretary “and she delivered a blistering critique of my management style.” Based in part on the criticism, Mr. Hicks said he agreed to curtail his employment in Libya. Mr. Hicks said he wound up as a foreign affairs officer.

“I’ve been effectively demoted from deputy chief of mission to desk officer,” Mr. Hicks said.

The State Department didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Hicks also criticized Mrs. Clinton for minimizing debate about when the administration realized the attacks were terrorism. In January, questioned by lawmakers, she threw up her arms and, noting there were four dead Americans, asked, “What difference at this point does it make?”

Mr. Hicks said Libya’s new leader, Mohamed Magariaf, who was trying to establish credibility after the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi, had already declared that the attack resulted from terrorism. Mrs. Clinton’s statement, Mr. Hicks said, was an affront to the Libyan leader.

“His credibility was reduced,” Mr. Hicks said. “And I definitely believe that it negatively affected our ability to get the FBI team quickly to Benghazi” to investigate the attacks.

Mr. Hicks, by turns calm and emotional, told lawmakers his story of the night of last Sept. 11. He said he was at home in Tripoli watching television when a foreign-service officer ran in at 9:45 p.m. local time, yelling, “Greg, Greg, the consulate’s under attack.”

Checking his cellphone, Mr. Hicks said he saw two missed phone calls, one from Mr. Stevens and one from a phone number he didn’t recognize.

Mr. Hicks said he called the number he didn’t recognize and Mr. Stevens answered. “Greg, we’re under attack,” Mr. Stevens said before the call cut off. It was the first stage in a frightening and chaotic episode for State Department staffers in Libya.

Just before 11 p.m., Mr. Hicks said he asked the embassy’s defense attaché, who was in contact with the Pentagon’s Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, whether any military aircraft were on the way.

“Is anything coming? Will they be sending us any help? Is there something out there?” Mr. Hicks said he asked.

The defense attaché told him that the nearest fighter jets were based in Italy, and it would take two to three hours for them to “get on-site”—but there were no air-refueling aircraft available so they could make the trip.

“I said, ‘Thank you very much.’ And we went on with our work,” Mr. Hicks testified.

At about 12:30 a.m. local time, diplomats in Tripoli learned of a new threat by Islamists—to attack the embassy complex in the Libyan capital city. The 55 diplomatic personnel in two facilities began to prepare to evacuate.

Through the night, Mr. Hicks and his team frantically decided they needed to send a second team from Tripoli to Benghazi to secure the airport for the withdrawal of personnel. They decided that a team of special-operations forces should go. But the team was told to stand down, a call Mr. Hicks said he believed came from the military.

Mr. Hicks quoted a lieutenant colonel as telling him: “This is the first time in my career that a diplomat has more balls than somebody in the military.”

At 2 a.m., Mrs. Clinton and her top advisers called Mr. Hicks for an update. “She asked me what was going on and I briefed her on developments,” Mr. Hicks said, adding that most of the call was about the search for Mr. Stevens.

Mr. Hicks said that he didn’t discuss whether the attack was terrorist-related with Mrs. Clinton, because he had already reported that assertion.

Mr. Hicks said during the night, the embassy received several calls from Mr. Stevens’s phone in which a caller said: “We know where the ambassador is. Please, you can come get him.”

Mr. Hicks said the Americans feared the calls were a hoax, designed to lure the Americans into “a trap.”

Then, around 3 a.m., Mr. Hicks received a call from the prime minister of Libya, informing him that Mr. Stevens was dead. “I think it was the saddest phone call I’ve ever had in my life,” Mr. Hicks said, choking up. He said he immediately called the State Department to inform them.

Mr. Nordstrom said the Accountability Review Board didn’t properly delve into the matter because it didn’t talk to the right people. “They stopped short of interviewing people who I personally know were involved in key decisions,” he testified.

III “John Bolton: Benghazi Could Topple Administration” -NewsMax

Make no mistake… before the Benghazi hearings even started, damning details from witnesses, who were being intimidated into silence, started to leak… but those damning allegations were just the tip of the iceberg.

An unprecedented and putrid cover-up of the highest magnitude is taking place… the rotting stench of which leads all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And finally, the American people are beginning to learn the horrendous truth.

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