Highlights and lowlights of the Benghazi hearings

The Benghazi hearings contained some stunning revelations and congresspeople determined to either discover or suppress the truth. Photo: U.S. Representative Darrell Issa/AP

BRISTOL, TN, May 9, 2013 — After months of delays, denials, obfuscations, charges, and counter-charges, three whistleblowers came forward to challenge the White House and State Department versions of events in Benghazi, Libya.

Four Americans including a United States Ambassador and a pair of Navy SEALs were murdered on the eleventh anniversary of the original September 11 attacks. Gregory N. Hicks, Deputy chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya, Mark I. Thompson, Counterterrorism Bureau Deputy Coordinator for Operations, and Eric Nordstrom, Libyan Regional Security Officer, all came forward to shed light on a situation shrouded in darkness.

SEE RELATED: Benghazi: Ariel Castro, Jodi Arias overshadow House Investigation

Questions surround why Americans were left to die, and whether the highest levels of the Obama administration covered up the truth.

Before the hearings even began, there were two major questions. Would the Democrats on the panel try to destroy the whistleblowers? Would the Democrats put country over partisanship and search for the truth?

Republican Darrell Issa of California, the committee Chairman, spoke in plain English.

“The administration has not been cooperative.”

SEE RELATED: Will the Benghazi whistleblowers get destroyed?

He pressured Democrats led by Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings to allow the truth to come out. Cummings decided to split the difference. He was not going to dare question the integrity of the whistleblowers. 

“I am glad the whistleblowers are here. I will do everything in my power to protect the whistleblowers.”

Questions being asked at the hearings are “legitimate.”

Cummings then went into full attack mode against Chairman Issa. In the same way Democrats chose to demonize Judge Kenneth Starr during the Clinton impeachment hearings, the strategy this time seems to be to put the entire focus on Issa.

SEE RELATED: The hardest Benghazi question for liberals

For those unaware, Issa was not in Benghazi, and did not give anybody any orders about Benghazi. He is a Congressman trying to get answers, which is what the Oversight Committee is, by definition, supposed to do. 

By conceding the veracity of the whistlebowers, Cummings undermined his own strategy. Issa’s motives are irrelevant. Once Cummings conceded the whistleblowers were honest, he was boxed in. 

Mark Thompson offered a very brief statement. When Issa asked his reaction on the  carnage unfolding around him on the night in questions, Thompson replied, “We needed to act now, and not wait.”

Gregory Hicks was the one the panel clearly wanted to hear. Most of his remarks focused on his own resume and credentials. While this would appear self-serving, there was a clear purpose for this. Far from braggadocio, he was inoculating himself against charges of bias, incompetence or lack of knowledge.

Simply put, he is not “evil” or “stupid.” 

He speaks fluent Arabic, and his contact in Bahrain gave him a heads up on pending attacks, giving his people time to prepare. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised him over the telephone, and Obama wrote a letter praising him to the Libyan Ambassador. 

Eric Nordstrom choked back tears on that day. He especially took issue with Hillary Clinton’s  “What difference at this point does it make?” comments during her testimony. 

Nordstrom said, “They matter to me personally. They matter to my colleagues at State. It matters to the American public to whom we serve. It matters to the friends and family of Ambaddador Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, Tyron Woods.”

Issa wanted the complete story. What happened on the night in question?

Hicks testified that at 9:45pm (All times Libya time, six hours ahead of Washington, DC time), he received a call from Ambassador Stevens saying that the Consulate was under “attack.” By 10pm, Hicks began calling Senior State Department officials. He wanted to provide a plane from Tripoli to Benghazi to provide reinforcements. He then divided the timeline into four phases.

Phase one was the attack on the Consulate, with sixty attackers in the compound at the worst of it. After bravely fighting them off, there was a second wave of attackers who took over the compound

Phase two began around 11:30pm after returning to the annex. There were ninety minutes of probing attacks that desisted about 1:30am.

Hicks asked at 11:00pm if he was getting any help. He was told it would take two to three hours, but there were no tankers for them to refuel. 

Phase three occurred around 12:30am with the news that Ambassador Stevens’s body had been recovered. He was in a hospital run by those leading the attack, Ans al-Sharia.

At 2:00am Hillary called. Hicks briefed her and told her that his people needed to evacuate. She said that was the right thing to do. 

At 3:00am the Prime Minister of Libya called and said that Stevens was dead. Hicks then called Washington to try and accelerate the effort to get to safety.

The final phase involved Lt. Colonel Gibson, he wanted to bring the people home safely. he was told no, that he should “stand down.” The plane landed near Benghazi around 7:30am, without rescuing anybody. Hicks described Gibson as being furious over the order to stand down.  

South Carolina Republican Trey Goudy took the gloves off.

“For those who like to trumpet bipartisanship, this would be a good time to demonstrate it. This would be a wonderful time to prove it.”

“To the families I want to say we’re going to find out what happened in Benghazi and I don’t give a damn whose career is impacted!”

It was confirmed that State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told the Ambassador to Libya on September 12th that Islamic terrorists committed the murders. 

This was days before U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice went on all five talk shows and blamed an anti-Muslim film. The film-maker for some reason remains imprisoned.

This is a key smoking gun. The State Department knew the cause of the attacks was Radical Islam. The video narative was not a mistake. It was a lie. Why would Susan Rice lie? What impact did it have on the ground?

Hicks mentioned “bureaucratic resistance.” It took eighteen days to get the FBI to arrive in Benghazi. Rice did not talk to Hicks before going on all five Sunday talk shows.

Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz allowed Nordstrom to elicit that his team was asked not to participate in key meetings. DC Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton tried to play “gotcha,” but was quickly slapped down. She noted that counterterrorism people were present in meetings.

Nordstrom intoned, “I do not politicize my job. I have served under three presidents.” He pointed out that while the entire counterterrorism bureau was not cut out of the process, the most important branch of that bureau was. He was part of that branch.

Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio wanted to know who Hicks spoke to at the highest levels? Hicks had direct contact with Hillary’s right hand person.

Missouri Democrat Lacy Clay had one of the two shameful comments of the day. He spent most of his entire time blaming Benghazi on “budget cuts.” This approach is used to either blame Republicans for the Sequester, or previous cuts under President George W. Bush. 

Issa was well prepared, causing Clay’s attack to backfire. Issa had Nordstrom point out that former State Department Charlene Lamb (who resigned over the initial Benghazi report) previously testified that resources were not an issue. Issa asked an embarrassed Clay if he was at that hearing. Clay stammered that he could not remember.

Yet Clay’s bumbling paled in comparison to the callousness of Cummings. At a previous hearing, Hillary Clinton looked uncaring when she asked “What difference at this point does it make?” how the Beghazi victims died. Cummings offered an equally self-inflicted wound by intoning that “death is a part of life.” 

Perception can become reality, and the perception was that the only thing Democrats on the panel were interested in was protecting Obama and Clinton. 

Democrats received a break when the hearings suffered from heavy competition in the news department. During the hearings, the Jodi Arias trial reached a verdict (guilty of first degree murder). The Kermit Gosnell jury was deliberating. Ariel Castro was arrested for kidnapped three Cleveland girls, and family members held a press conference as one daughter returned home. 

Yet this temporary respite stopped the Benghazi story as much as Hillary’s various physical illnesses did. Drip by drip, this is only the beginning. Many key questions remain unanswered.

Who is Lt. Colonel Gibson? Who ordered him to stand down? Who pushed the video narrative? Who ordered White House talking points to omit any mention of Radical Islam? If the administration knew the truth one day after the attacks, why was an innocent film-maker arrested? Why is he still in jail?

Where was President Obama this whole time? What was he doing while Americans were being killed? Is it true that he went to sleep early?

Have we captured all of the perpetrators? Where and when will they be tried? Will they be treated as criminals like Tsarnaev receiving an American trial or Jihadists to be sent to Gitmo for a military tribunal?

These questions do not constitute anything resembling a witch hunt. They constitute getting to the truth. Susan Rice and Colonel Gibson need to testify. Hillary may need to do so again. Yes, President Obama may have to do as well. 

The questions will stop when truthful answers at the highest levels are finally given.


READ MORE: The Tygrrrr Express by Eric Golub

Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”

Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS. Follow us: @wtcommunities on Twitter

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Eric Golub

Eric Golub is a politically conservative Jewish blogger, author, public speaker, and comedian. His book trilogy is “Ideological Bigotry,” “Ideological Violence,” and  “Ideological Idiocy.” 

He is Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and has lived in Los Angeles since 1990. He received his Bachelors degree from the University of Judaism, and his MBA from USC. A stockbrokerage professional since 1994, he began blogging on March 11th, 2007, the three year anniversary of the Madrid bombings and the midpoint of 9/11. He has been inflicting his world view on his unfortunate readers since then. He blogs about politics Monday through Friday, and about football and other human interest items on weekends.



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