The White House might have wanted to mute its response to the terrorist attack in Benghazi for fear of inflaming Anti-American sentiment. Perhaps the President did not want to acknowledge a successful attack by an al-Qaeda affiliate on the anniversary of 9/11—right before a national election. Maybe it was just all “Keystone Kops” at the national command authority on the night four Americans were killed at their posts. It could be a bit of all three. The problem is, nine months later, we still don’t know for sure.
Dramatic hearings are expected today as Gregory Hicks, a State Department official who was on the ground in Libya during the 9/11 attack when four Americans died, talks to a House panel.
Some of his testimony from pre-hearing interviews with committee staff has already been released to the press. It includes claims that a Special Forces team that could have helped save lives and safeguard evidence and classified materials at the U.S. facility had been ordered to “stand down.” In addition, Hicks contends that from the outset, the ambassador’s team knew that they were under attack and reported that to Washington.
Hicks’s testimony follows a House Republican Conference report and a detailed article on the “Benghazi Talking Points” in The Weekly Standard that further call into question the credibility of the Obama Administration’s response.
What is becoming increasingly clear is that (1) the Administration bungled security before the incident; (2) the response to the assault was disjointed and inadequate; and (3) the Administration made a consistent and considerable effort to hide these facts.
The timeline still does not add up.
That Hicks is only just now being allowed to testify before Congress reinforces concerns that the Administration continues to slow-roll the truth coming out. Yet the White House continues to stick to the increasingly incredulous line that it has been forthcoming at every step.
Just recently, the White House press spokesperson defended the State Department’s internal review of the attack as “rigorous and unsparing,” even after the State Department Inspector General announced it is investigating the conduct of the panel that produced the report.
Fundamental questions about the security breakdown in Benghazi still have not been fully answered. With a White House that is still in denial about sharing the truth, it remains up to the Congress to press for answers and the press the Administration to take its responsibility of protecting our personnel overseas more seriously than protecting its political reputation at home.
The hearing will be streamed live here beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET.
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