Ever since Sept. 11, 2012, when Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in a terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the Obama administration has done its best to confuse and conceal what actually happened. On Wednesday, when three career State Department officials testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Americans may finally start to get the real story.
In the aftermath of the attack, the Obama administration tried to focus attention on a silly YouTube amateur video mocking Muhammad, which President Obama repeatedly mentioned during a speech to the United Nations. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice went even further, telling ABC News, "Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous -- not a premeditated -- response to what had transpired in Cairo." She continued, "In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated."
Subsequently, the administration grudgingly admitted that it was a premeditated terrorist attack rather than a spontaneous demonstration protesting an obscure video. Reporting by The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes earlier this week made clear that multiple senior White House and State Department officials knew the video explanation was a fabrication.
Gregory Hicks, one of the witnesses scheduled to testify tomorrow, is expected to drive home the point. Hicks, a 22-year Foreign Service veteran who was the deputy chief-of-mission at the U.S. Embassy, didn't mince words when interviewed by House investigators, according to a transcript obtained by CBS News. "I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning," he said.
According to CBS, Hicks also told investigators that "a team of Special Forces prepared to fly from Tripoli to Benghazi during the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks was forbidden from doing so by U.S. Special Operations Command Africa.SDRq This, CBS noted, was "in stark contrast to assertions from the Obama administration, which insisted that nobody was ever told to stand down and that all available resources were utilized." The committee will also hear testimony from Mark Thompson, acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism at the State Department, and Eric Nordstom, a diplomatic security officer and former regional security officer in Libya for the Department of State.
The hearing comes on the heels of a report by House Republicans last month that contained evidence that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may have misrepresented events and her role in them while testifying under oath to Congress concerning requests for additional security in Benghazi. "I didn't see those requests. They didn't come to me. I didn't approve them. I didn't deny them," Clinton told Congress. But according to the congressional report, "On April 19, 2012, the response cable from the Department of State to Embassy Tripoli, bearing Secretary Clinton's signature, acknowledges Ambassador (Gene) Cretz's request for additional security but instead articulates a plan to scale back security assets for the U.S. Mission in Libya, including the Benghazi Mission."
Americans have endured eight months of purposeful opacity from Obama administration officials on Benghazi. Tomorrow's hearing will likely bring some credible answers.