“There is new information raising questions,” Bob Schieffer told a Face the Nation audience yesterdat, “of whether there was a cover-up by the State Department to deflect criticism that it had ignored requests for more security for its people in Libya.” Schieffer and CBS should get kudos for airing the reports of this evidence, but strictly speaking, it’s not new. The witnesses to this have been around ever since Benghazi, but with a few exceptions — CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson being one of them — no one bothered to ask them.
Until now, that is, when Congress will finally break the White House blockade on these witnesses and start hearing testimony about the failure in Benghazi and the attempts to keep them silent about it, especially about the White House effort to paint the attack as a demonstration gone amok. Gregory Hicks, a 22-year State veteran, said that his jaw hit the floor when he heard that explanation:
“The talking points were right and then the talking points were wrong,” Issa explained in response to a question about reporting at the Weekly Standard. The CIA and Greg Hicks, who took over as Charge d’Affairs in Libya after the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens, both knew immediately that it was an attack, not a protest.
Hicks, who did not appear on the show but whose reactions were featured based on transcripts of interviews with Issa’s committee, said he was stunned by what UN Ambassador Susan Rice claimed on five different news shows on Sep. 16. When she appeared on Face the Nation, she followed an interview with the President of Libya who claimed he had “no doubt” it was a terror attack. Moments later, Amb. Rice contradicted him and claimed a spontaneous protest was more likely.
Acting Ambassador Hicks watched the Sunday shows and said he found this contradiction shocking. “The net impact of what has transpired is the spokesperson of the most powerful country in the world has basically said that the President of Libya is either a liar or doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” he accused. Hicks added, “My jaw hit the floor as I watched this…I’ve never been as embarrassed in my life, in my career as on that day.”
Hicks believes the stunning failure of diplomacy on the Sunday news shows explains why it took the FBI three weeks to gain access to the Benghazi site. The U.S. had effectively humiliated the Libyan President on national TV. That decision, he believed, probably compromised our ability to investigate and track down those responsible.
Hicks told Darrell Issa that people on site knew it was terrorist attack from the beginning, and never communicated anything else back to Washington:
A top-ranking diplomat in Libya is set to testify that the Americans on the ground at the diplomatic facility in Benghazi believed from the outset that, contrary to the claims of administration officials, the September 11 attack was carried out by terrorists. CBS’s Face the Nation this morning revealed portions of an interview that the diplomat, 22-year State Department veteran Gregory Hicks, gave to the House Oversight Committee.
“I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning,” he said. Hicks told the commitee that U.N. ambassador Susan Rice’s contention that the attack resulted from angry protests over an anti-Muslim YouTube video, which contradicted the statements of Libyan president Mohammed al-Magarief, were viewed as an insult by the Libyan government and made the FBI’s investigation of the attack more difficult. “I’ve never been as embarrassed in my life, in my career, as on that day,” Hicks said of Rice’s five interviews on Sunday news programs just days after the attack. “The net impact of what has transpired is the spokesperson of the most powerful country in the world, has basically said that the president of Libya is either a liar of doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
Oh, and remember how the White House claimed that it had been in contact with American officials on the ground during the attack? Another lie, says Hicks:
Hicks also contradicted the White House’s claim that it contacted American officials in Libya on the night of the attack, telling investigators that he never heard from administration officials.
This is going to get ugly when hearings open up this week. Will Democrats paint these witnesses as liars or incompetents to protect Barack Obama — or perhaps more to the point, Hillary Clinton? This is probably not a good sign for Hillary:
Democratic congressman Stephen Lynch said this morning on TV that Susan Rice used “scrubbed” talking points on Benghazi to deliver “false information” to the American people:
“Absolutely, they were false, they were wrong,” said Lynch, after being asked about Steve Hayes’s report on “The Benghazi Talking Points.”
“There were no protests outside the Benghazi compound there. This was a deliberate and strategic attack on the consulate there,” said the Democratic congressman.
“It was false information. There’s no excuse for that.”
I think there will be many jaws hitting the floor this week.