Senate Intelligence Committee members did not include important testimony from Benghazi whistleblower Gregory Hicks about security at the U.S. mission in their final report, which had the effect of blaming the fallen ambassador and protecting a top State Department official from responsibility for the attack.
"I was interviewed by the Select Committee and its staff, who were professional and thorough. I explained this sequence of events," Hicks (who worked with the late U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, in the lead-up to the attack) explained in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Thursday. "For some reason, my explanation did not make it into the Senate report."
Hicks' narrative contradicts the Senate report's finding that Stevens "declined" to have 30 special forces operators protect his team, rather than the nine present in Tripoli and Benghazi when the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack took place. The decision to reduce the security was made against Stevens' wishes by Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy, according to Hicks.
"Because Mr. Kennedy had refused to extend the special forces security mission, State Department protocol required Chris to decline Gen. [Carter] Ham's two offers to do so, which were made after Aug. 6," Hicks wrote.
Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., said Hicks' indictment of the Senate report demonstrates the need for a select committee to investigate the Benghazi attack, as opposed to the current system that has different congressional committees, with various areas of jurisdiction, investigating the aspects of the attack that fall within their bailiwick.
"Perhaps, if we had such a Select Committee, the recent Senate report would have better represented Mr. Hicks' testimony about the administration's failure to provide adequate security in Benghazi, rather than forcing him to pen an op-ed to correct the record," Wolf wrote in a Thursday letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Boehner has rebuffed Wolf's previous requests for a select committee, according to Wolf's press secretary, Jill Shatzen, who explained that Boehner has maintained a preference for allowing the five House committees to work.
"Look at the discrepancies between the House interim report last April and the Senate report released this month," Wolf urged Boehner in the letter. "The Senate report -- released by Democrat Chairman Dianne Feinstein -- raised key new issues and findings that the House committees have never shared before. Why? And speaking of the House's nearly year-old 'interim progress report,' when will the final report of the committees be published, if ever?"
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has blocked all efforts to have the Senate participate in such a select committee process, but Wolf would at least like to see a bipartisan House select committee investigate the attack.
“You know me well enough to know that my persistence in pursuing answers isn't about politics or a vendetta, it's about the Legislative Branch conducting its most basic responsibility: strong oversight,” Wolf wrote. “To date, we can't honestly say we've fulfilled this Constitutional responsibility with regard to Benghazi.”