Benghazi Congressional Hearings: No Whistle-Blowing, No Smoke, No Fire
Today's Benghazi whistleblower hearing ended with no smoking gun. If this was whistle-blowing, surely these gentleman had crackers in their mouth. As fellow PolicyMic pundit Ed Hancox blogged, "I thought that whistleblowers were supposed to have insider info on official malfeasance; this hearing just seems like second-guessing decisions made (some bad) on a chaotic situation in the heat of the moment. Where's the scandal?"
At the end of the day this is what we learned — Republicans will not rest until they are satisfied that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is firmly held to blame for the incident that cost the lives of four Americans.
Foreign Service Officer and Former Libyan Deputy Chief Gregory Hicks, Libyan regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom, and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism Mark Thompson testified for almost six hours today in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. These three senior officials represented the senior on-the-ground staff in Libya at the time of the attack on the Benghazi consulate.
Going into the hearing we were led to believe that we would get insider information on who gave the order to "stand down" to the additional support to Benghazi, and who gave the order to modify the talking points that Ambassador Rice and the administration used to report that a YouTube video disparaging Islam was the catalyst that sparked the supposed random protest.
Instead what we heard was one committee member after another testifying for the record and trying to lay blame at the footsteps of Clinton. Representatives Chaffetz (R-Utah), Gowdy (R-S.C.), Jordan (R-Ohio), and Lankford (R-Okla.) were particularly great witnesses. However, they weren't supposed to be giving answers. They were supposed to be asking questions.
Nordstrom took painstaking time to explain that in an unprecedented move the decision-making process to increase security at the Benghazi compound was taken away from his office. Thompson explained that his group, which was responsible for tactical response to terrorist events, was kept out of the loop during the ARB investigation. Thompson himself was never interviewed by the ARB. Hicks noted that stenographers were not in the room during his ARB interview and that he has never seen the classified report.
This was supposed to be an attempt to get to the truth and these gentlemen were going to open the doors to it. But this was just a case of three good senior-level executives wanting to get on the record with their version of events.
The results of the hearing are going to lead to more investigations and more hearings. "This hearing is closed but this investigation is not over," said Rep. Issa (R-Calif.).
And he is right. There is already an investigation of the ARB report which itself was an investigation of the original investigation conducted by the administration. So that is an investigation of the investigation of the investigation.
The committee has already requested to hear from former Coordinator for Counterterrorism Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, who was Thompson's superior, and Lt. Col. Gibson, who according to Hicks received the "stand down" order from either AFRICOMM or SOCAFRICA.
But as far as these hearings go, as one congressman put it: this was no smoking gun. This wasn't even a warm slingshot.