Tuesday’s hearing held by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on the 2012 Benghazi attack presented a third round of eyewitness testimony from the fateful night of September 11 to 12 of year. After almost a year and a half of stalling by the Obama Administration, eyewitnesses are now able to share their firsthand accounts of that horrendous attack with congressional investigators.
The take-away from this week’s session, so Representative Devin Nunes (R–CA) told Fox’s Megyn Kelly, was that the beleaguered U.S. diplomats and CIA staff in Benghazi were not beyond assistance, as Obama Administration officials would have us believe. Repeatedly members of the Administration have stated that there was just not enough time for military assets to come to the aid of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and his staff in the diplomatic facility, or the contractors and staff in the CIA annex roughly a mile away.
Yet, two factors have emerged, undercutting the Administration’s argument:
- The diplomatic facility came under attack at 9:00 p.m. on September11, fighting at the CIA annex erupted between 12:30 a.m. and 2:00 a.m., and culminated with a mortar barrage at 5:00 a.m. on the 12th. Throughout the evening and the morning, people all over Benghazi, including other foreign diplomats, followed the fighting with fascination. No one could possibly know with certainty that this was the end of the battle, though Washington clearly hoped that it was.
- Seven CIA security specialists actually did come to the rescue from Tripoli, arriving at the CIA annex just as the mortar attack was erupting at 5:00 a.m. Their trip on a Libyan military C-130H cargo plane had been an exercise in massive frustration, including three and a half hours spent at the Benghazi airport, waiting on negotiations with local Libyan militias over safe passage from the airport to the CIA annex. The CIA specialists did finally make it to the annex, to the massive relief of the besieged staff.
“What if the attack had gone on for another 24 hours?” Nunes asked. “Would they have sent help then?” Nunes went on to say that the two contractors who testified before the committee this week had provided valuable leads, which the committee will be pursuing.
When the truth about Benghazi eventually comes out, and it will, Americans must demand accountability from their government. For now, Members of Congress should be commended for their persistence and dedication.