Hearings held yesterday by the House Oversight Committee, on the murder on 9/11/2012 of the U.S. Ambassador and three other U.S. officials in Benghazi, Libya, blew a devastating hole in the cover story disseminated by the Obama administration about the 9/11-2 attack.
While the administration, with the aid of Senator John Kerry, had attempted to prevent any hearing from occurring on the events in Libya until after the election, the very fact that the committee carried out this hearing, forced the Obama administration to admit in a telephone conference call to some media and Congressional staff, the night before the hearing, that there had been no protest demonstration, that the attack was not sparked by a video, and that it was, in fact, a pre-planned terrorist attack — all of which the administration had denied through the vehicle of UN Ambassador Susan Rice's appearance on 5 talk shows on Sunday, September 16, and in the form of White House press briefings by Jay Carney.
Testimony was given by Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, who had been the head of the Site Security Team (SST) in Libya, and Eric Nordstrom, the Regional Security Officer in Libya for the U.S. State Department, on the one hand; and by Charline Lam, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and Ambassador Patrick Kennedy, Undersecretary of State for Management, on the other hand.
Very few Democratic Congressmen showed up for the hearing, and the main argument made by ranking Member Cummings, that it was the Republican Congress that had cut the security budget for embassy security, was quickly exposed by the fact that 149 Democrats in the House — including Cummings himself — had voted for the cuts, and, secondly, that the drawdown of security for the Ambassador in Libya involved the elimination of a special forces unit called the Site Security Team (SST), which was funded by the Defense Department, not the State Department, so that State Department budget had nothing to do with it.
- Salient Points -
The most salient points made during the hearing are as follows:
* Patrick Kennedy argued in his opening statement and repeatedly afterwards that "if any administration official, including any career official, were on television on Sunday, September 16th, they would have said what Ambassador Rice said." Rice had said that the attack was the result of a demonstration against an anti-Muslim video and not a pre-planned terrorist attack.
Kennedy said this, despite the fact that he, himself, had briefed the Congress within 24 hours of the attack that the attack was a terrorist attack.
Kennedy's ludicrous statement in defense of Rice and the Obama White House was torn apart by other testimony offered.
In the course of the hearing, Charline Lamb testified that both Tripoli and the State Department in Washington were notified of the attack immediately and that she was in real-time contact with the personnel there throughout the attack and also the day afterwards, when the personnel who survived were evacuated to Tripoli.
The question raised by several congressmen was, how could Kennedy maintain that anyone would have said the same thing as Rice, when Lamb and others were in real-time contact with the U.S. forces on the scene?
* Also, it came to light that there is a 50-minute video of the attack, which State has refused thus far to turn over to the committee. If there was a video which clearly showed that there was no protest demonstration, why did Rice and Carney make the statements they made?
Committee chairman Daryl Issa stated that the committee has requested the tape. Kennedy said he had a copy but would not hand it over, because it is part of an ongoing investigation.
* Rep. Gowdy also stated that he wanted Susan Rice to appear before the committee and testify under oath so that she could be asked who had told her the attack was a reaction to a video. He stated that both Rice and Carney had made demonstrably false statements to the American poeple. This represents negligence, disregard for the truth, or something more nefarious.
Issa announced that the Committee will be requesting a classified interview with Susan Rice to take place in approximately one week.
* What was documented during the hearing is that the security situation was worsening in Benghazi, and yet officials in the State Department, specifically Charline Lamb, had told Eric Nordstrom that if he requested an extension to maintain the special forces SST in Libya, the request would be rejected.
- Conflicting Testimony -
Under questioning, Lamb claimed that Nordstrom had not made a request, but had only made a recommendation; however, as Nordstrom testified, the request was submitted and was entitled "Request for SST Extension."
In his testimony, Lt. Col. Wood stated that SST was provided by the U.S. African Command and that General Hamm had offered the SST to Ambassador Stevens as long as it was needed. This team was terminated as of Aug. 5 despite deteriorating security conditions, which Wood described as follows: Things were difficult to uncertain. A loss of life could result at any minute. A lawless situation was the norm. There were assassinations of Gaddfi loyalists and vice versa. There was no control of borders and weapons smuggling. Tanks and anti-aircraft guns could be found everywhere. There was an increase in targeted attacks towards Americans. The Red Cross and the British Consulate had left. We were the last flag flying, the last target to be removed from Benghazi. Nonetheless, the decision not to renew SST was a foregone conclusion.
* Dennis Kucinich was the sole congressman to state that these conditions were a result of the decision to intervene in Libya in the first place. He argued that our nation spurred on a civil war, destroying Libya. We intervened absent Constitutional authorization. Al Qada has expanded. Our own military intervention created instabiity. Congress failed to stop this and other wars, and it has failed to stop drone attacks. Let's stop trying to overthrow governments. Such interventions have not made us safer.
He then asked, is Al Qada more established in Libya now than before? Patrick Kennedy would not answer, saying he was not an intelligence agent. Kucinich asked how many shoulder-mounted surface to air missiles are still missing in Libya. Kennedy said he did not now.
Nordstrom, on the other hand, said that there were 10-20,000 such missiles missing, and Wood said that, yes sir, Al Qaeda is more established and growing every day in Libya.
Both Rep. Labrador and Rep. Burton asked Wood and Nordstrom their immediate assessment of the attack on the Benghazi consulate. Wood said it was instantly recognizable as a terrorist attack. We were the last flag flying. Nordstrom said that he thought it was the Al Qada-affiliated group Al Ansar Sharia.
Asked to compare the relative abilities of the U.S. special forces SST to the local security personnel who replaced it, Wood said that the special forces soldiers, who are some of the finest soldiers in the world, are way above hired local nationals with a pistol.
In answer to a question from Issa, he said that the chances of evacuating more of the consulate personnel safely would have been greater with the SST due to its superior weapons and tactics. When the SST left, that was no longer available. Wood also said in answer to Rep. Meehan: Why they would turn down that assistance, is best answered by those who made the decision themselves.
A number of the Congressmen zeroed in on the fact that since this was 9/11, the first suspicion should have been that it was carried out by Al Qaeda. Rep. Kelly said "this thing smells. If it qacks like a duck, it is a duck." And he emphaiszed that Charlene Lamb and others had watched it in real-time.
Dennis Ross pointed out that the President of Libya said it was a terroist attack. He then asked, does that mean that the intelligence agencies of Libya are superior to ours?
Rep. Rohrbacher told Patrick Kennedy that he was stonewalling and engaged in a cover-up.
Rep. Sandy Adams, a former police officer, got Charline Lamb to admit that she did not have the sole discretion to eliminate the SST and forced her to name her two superiors who would have to approve the decision, one of whom was Eric Boswell.
Eric Nordstrom had previously testified that the same Eric Boswell had insisted on reviewing his written testimony before he presented it to the committee and had also told him not to respond to communications from the committee.
As the hearing came to an end, Patrick Kennedy claimed that there was "no actionable intelligence" available of a plan or another other indication of an attack of such lethality."
But as Eric Nordstrom stated, it was his estimate that "We were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident." Wood added that we were fighting a losing battle. We could not keep what we had.
Finally, Nordstrom testified that upon his return to the U.S., he was told by a superior whose first name is Jim that "you are asking for the sun, the moon and the stars."
Norstrom concluded: "For me the Taliban is on the inside of the building."