New Testimony for the Benghazi Attacks

Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Top Stories, Uncategorized, United States, World

It has been eight months since the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was attacked and four people were killed, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. In that time controversy has surrounded the White House’s handling of the situation. In events such as this, it is typical for government agencies to operate official investigations about the incident. So far, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), five committees from the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the State Department have opened such investigations.

On May 8, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a new hearing. Three first-hand witnesses to events before, during and after the Benghazi attack who had never spoken publicly were to give their views on the events in Libya from last Fall. These witnesses were Gregory Hicks, the number two diplomat after Christopher Stevens; Eric Nordstrom, the former regional security officer at the U.S. Embassy; and Mark Thompson, a former Marine who now serves as deputy coordinator for operations in the CIA’s Counterterrorism Bureau.

Image of people testifying to a congressional committee

Photo Credit: MC1 Chad J. McNeeley/US Navy/DoD
There have been public hearing in Congress recently regarding the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Public hearings, such as the one shown here, emphasize the U.S. democratic effort to keep the public informed of government actions.

Whistle Blowers Testify

The media called these witnesses the “Benghazi whistle blowers” because their views challenge the initial reports of the White House immediately after the September 2012 attack. President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are, in particular, being criticized for ignoring requests for improved security before the attack and for misleading the public as to the motivation of the attacks.

Gregory Hicks testified that he had personally pushed for stronger military support but that his recommendations were ignored. Hicks also said that he and many others believed the attack was terrorist-related the moment it happened and not the result of an angry crowd of protestors as first reported by the Obama administration.

Emails Reveal Discrepancy in Message

In addition to these new public statements, additional information has been revealed. There is confusion over a series of talking points surrounding the explanation of the Benghazi attack. Talking points are a summary of government responses to a media situation that outlines the administrations point of view about that situation. President Obama’s national security staff has been accused of altering the talkiing points drafted about the Benghazi attack. There are currently twelve different versions of the Benghazi attack talking points that had been drastically edited from the initial version written by the CIA. The final version was given to Congress and Senior Staff, including Susan Rice, the Ambassador to the UN who appeared on five Sunday political talk shows. Rice also drew criticism because she was the most visible representative of the White House on the subject.

More than 100 emails documenting the changes to the final talking points are now public. These emails reveal disagreement between then-CIA Director, David Petraeus and his deputy, Michael Morell over what information should be included in the talking points. The edits included removal of references to Ansar al-Sharia, a terrorist organization associated with Al-Qaeda, as well as CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi. Evidence of these edits contradict an October 2012 statement of the White House that the there was minimal adjustments to the talking points. Those who support the Obama administration’s handling of the events suggest that these edits reflect an effort to understand a chaotic and changing series of events in a quick amount of time.

Related Links

What Do You Think? Republicans believe the information about the attack was minimized because the president was running for re-election. The Obama administration, however, says that the information released was based on initial intelligence reports. Do a little searching. What side of this controversy do you agree with and why?