The Benghazi hearing has been going on for several hours. As expected, the Democrats on the committee did everything possible to waste time, protect the administration and make the witnesses uncomfortable. After Chairman Darryl Issa’s opening remarks, ranking member Elijah Cummings went on a long, bloviating rant against those trying to get to the truth about what happened in Libya on September 11, 2012. Later, Cummings made the most bizarre statement of the day, “Death is a part of life.” What the heck that had to do with the proceedings of the day is completely unclear.
Over and over again the Democrats tried to make this hearing about budget cuts, despite the fact that it’s been shown over and over again that budget cuts had nothing to do with the terrorist attack on our consulate.
Ambassador Chris Stevens’s deputy Gregory Hicks, who was in Tripoli at the time, testified that he spoke to Hillary Clinton at 2 AM on the night of the attack and there was no mention of any demonstration or You Tube video. “We saw no demonstrations relating to the video, there was only an attack,” he testified. When asked about military personnel being told to stand down, he replied “They were furious.” Hicks also said he had been told by the State Department not to speak to congressional investigators. He has basically been demoted and now works a desk job.
Also testifying today were Mark I. Thompson, Deputy Coordinator for Operations in the Counter-terrorism Bureau, who said his department was cut out of the decision making during the night of the Benghazi attack, as well as Eric Nordstrom, the regional security officer in Libya. Nordstrom got choked up during his opening remarks.
As I write this I have CSPAN open and they’re taking calls during a break in the hearing. They just took a call from a Democrat who said he is appalled at the way the Democrats are covering for Hillary Clinton and President Obama.
The committee invited others to testify, but they declined. Hmmm.
The State Department has defended its inquiry into the attacks, known as an Accountability Review Board, arguing that it was sweeping. The review held senior department officials accountable for what it said were lapses that led the government to occupy diplomatic buildings that did not meet security standards in a country reeling from an intense civil war.
The two men who headed the review — former ambassador Thomas Pickering and Adm. Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — declined invitations to testify, according to committee staff.
There was also a fourth whistleblower, but that person was “gagged by red tape.”
There’s more on the testimony here and here. I’ll probably update this post later when the hearing has concluded. It will be interesting to see how the media reports this. Democrats made sure they gave them plenty of irrelevant soundbites. We’ll see if they play one of the most devastating soundbites of the day: “We were on our own,” which was the reply of Gregory Hicks when asked about the message he got from Washington, DC on the night of the attack.
Update: Nice Deb has some of the video highlights thus far, as well as links to other coverage.
Update: The PJ Tatler has a good rundown of what happened today and how the GOP blew it by having all of the testimony in one day. Fox News aired it for a while, but not long enough. They joined with the rest of the media to shift to the Jodi Arias verdict (she was convicted of 1st degree murder) and the Cleveland kidnapping victims returning home.
In short, what we learned today is that there were two stand down orders. Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi at the behest of Hillary Clinton. The whistleblowers were intimidated into silence. Hillary got the 2 AM phone call, and the You Tube video was a non-event in Libya. Be sure to read the whole thing.