New whistleblowers coming forward on Benghazi?

posted at 10:01 am on May 21, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

At the end of the Benghazi hearing in the House Oversight Committee almost two weeks ago,chair Darrell Issa welcomed anyone else with knowledge of what happened before, during, and after the terrorist attack on the consulate to come forward and testify.  According to PJ Media founder Roger L. Simon, that may happen soon.  Two former diplomats told Simon that their colleagues have specific knowledge, but need legal protection before they can tell more of the story — and there is more to tell:

According to the diplomats, what these whistleblowers will say will be at least as explosive as what we have already learned about the scandal, including details about what really transpired in Benghazi that are potentially devastating to both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The former diplomats inform PJM the new revelations concentrate in two areas — what Ambassador Chris Stevens was actually doing in Benghazi and the pressure put on General Carter Ham, then in command of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and therefore responsible for Libya, not to act to protect jeopardized U.S. personnel.

Stevens’ mission in Benghazi, they will say, was to buy back Stinger missiles from al-Qaeda groups issued to them by the State Department, not by the CIA. Such a mission would usually be a CIA effort, but the intelligence agency had opposed the idea because of the high risk involved in arming “insurgents” with powerful weapons that endanger civilian aircraft.

Hillary Clinton still wanted to proceed because, in part, as one of the diplomats said, she wanted “to overthrow Gaddafi on the cheap.”

This left Stevens in the position of having to clean up the scandalous enterprise when it became clear that the “insurgents” actually were al-Qaeda – indeed, in the view of one of the diplomats, the same group that attacked the consulate and ended up killing Stevens.

The former diplomat who spoke with PJ Media regarded the whole enterprise as totally amateurish and likened it to the Mike Nichols film Charlie Wilson’s War about a clueless congressman who supplies Stingers to the Afghan guerrillas. “It’s as if Hillary and the others just watched that movie and said ‘Hey, let’s do that!’” the diplomat said.

Simon notes that this is “largely hearsay,” second-hand representations of what the testimony will be. There isn’t any clear indication of where these whistleblowers worked in the Benghazi chain, but given the representations, they had to have had access to both State and White House deliberations and orders on high levels.  That’s assuming that the whistleblowers have direct knowledge of what these diplomats shared with PJ Media and not second-hand information themselves.  If that was the case, though, they probably wouldn’t need a legal way to work themselves into whistleblower protection.

Those aren’t the only fingers pointing to the former Secretary of State, either. The Hill reports that one of the existing whistleblowers wants more focus on a part of his testimony that mainly got overlooked — about why Ambassador Chris Stevens was in Benghazi in the first place. Hicks isn’t talking about recovering covert arms from Islamist terror networks, but because Hillary Clinton wanted a permanent outpost in Benghazi and needed it affirmed before the end of the fiscal year on September 30th:

Gregory Hicks, who briefly took over as head of mission when Stevens and three other Americans were killed, testified on May 8 that Clinton personally ordered the ambassador to turn Benghazi into a full consular post, and that she planned to announce the upgrade during a visit in December.

Hicks’s attorney has been drawing attention to that section of his testimony, which was overshadowed by revelations that no one at the U.S. embassy in Libya believed the terrorist attack was preceded by a peaceful protest, and that the Pentagon told a special operations team to stand down.

“According to Stevens, Secretary Clinton wanted Benghazi converted into a permanent constituent post,” Hicks testified.

“Timing for this decision [to visit the region on Sept. 11] was important. Chris needed to report before Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, on the … political and security environment in Benghazi.”

He said Pickering appeared “surprised.”

“I did tell the Accountability Review Board that Secretary Clinton wanted the post made permanent,” Hicks testified.

“Ambassador Pickering looked surprised. He looked both ways … to the members of the board, saying, ‘Does the seventh floor [the secretary of State’s office] know about this?’”

The ARB appears to have ignored Hicks’s statement in its public report. Instead, the board appeared to place responsibility on Stevens.

Pickering will appear for a transcribed deposition on Thursday to answer questions about the conduct of the ARB.  Pickering at first vociferously defended the report, which focused blame for Benghazi on lower-level staffers, but the White House undermined it last week in leaks to CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson that pointed fingers of their own at Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy.   Another whistleblower, Eric Nordstrom, testified two weeks ago that the ARB deliberately ignored Kennedy’s role in preventing security requests from being approved.

Stay tuned.  With 55% of Americans believing the White House has attempted to cover up on Benghazi, Congress has plenty of room to keep pressing for the real answers.  Another committee plans on doing just that, with a focus on what happened to the US military when it was needed on September 11th:

On Tuesday members of the House Armed Services Committee will question Pentagon officials in a classified session. The committee chairman, Republican Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., last week told Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that he remains “deeply concerned” about unanswered Benghazi questions. In a letter to Hagel, McKeon said he wants to know more about:

1. The account of events from the commander of the U.S. Site Security Team in Benghazi, including “the orders he received from higher authority;”

2. The presence of aircraft in the region, whether they were armed, how far they were from Benghazi, whether they would have needed in-flight refueling, and who in the military chain of command considered, or rejected, sending them to help;

3. The presence of unmanned aircraft in the region;

4. The status of a U.S. emergency team in Europe;

5. The presence of a Marine Corps Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team in the region;

6. What military preparations had been made to protect Americans in the area on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Just to make sure he got a quick response, McKeon noted that he wants answers before he finishes work on next year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which maps out funding for the Pentagon.

Question 1 deals with the “stand down order” and where it originated.  Hopefully, the response to Question 4 will discover who thought ordering the emergency response team to conduct a training exercise that would take then off line on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

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