A Benghazi bombshell

Reuters

The remains of Americans killed in Benghazi are removed from a transport aircraft during a ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, Sept. 14, 2012. U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed during an attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Libya.

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  • The Obama administration wants to consign the Benghazi terrorist attack to the history books @marcthiessen

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  • Eight months have passed since Benghazi and still nothing has been done about it. @marcthiessen

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  • Maybe before the Obama administration closes the book on Benghazi, it ought to tell the truth. @marcthiessen

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The Obama administration wants to consign the Benghazi terrorist attack to the history books, but this week three State Department officials will tell Congress that the Obama administration’s version of history is false — and that the falsehoods it told the American people were willful and deliberate.

One of the whistleblowers, Mark Thompson, deputy coordinator for operations in the State Department’s counterterrorism bureau, was in direct, real-time communication with people on the ground during the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Libya, before he was locked out of the room. Yet despite his firsthand knowledge of how the attack unfolded, he was not interviewed by the State Department’s Accountability Review Board, even though he asked to be. According to sources I spoke with, Thompson will testify that the circumstances under which Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died have been “purposefully misrepresented” by the administration and that “all their public statements from the initial account to the talking points [that Ambassador Susan Rice used on the Sunday shows] were false, and they knew it.”

Gregory Hicks, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya at the time of the attack, will apparently back up that charge. This weekend, Rep. Darryl Issa (R-Calif.), who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, revealed some of what Hicks told congressional investigators: “My jaw hit the floor as I watched [Rice speak] .... I’ve never been as embarrassed in my life, in my career, as on that day. . . . I never reported a demonstration; I reported an attack on the consulate.”

What was even more jaw-dropping was that no one from the State Department contacted Hicks before Rice’s interviews on the Sunday shows. Hicks says he was “personally known” to Rice’s staff and “I could have been called. . . . I could have said, ‘No, that’s not the right thing.’ That phone call was never made.” The next day, Hicks told investigators, he called Beth Jones, acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, and asked her, “ ‘Why did Ambassador Rice say that?’ And Beth Jones said, ‘I don’t know.’”

Hicks told congressional investigators that Stevens’ final report before he died was to say, “Greg, we are under attack.” Incredibly, though, Hicks has not even been allowed to see the classified Accountability Review Board report. Perhaps the Obama administration is afraid to let him review its “findings” for fear he will uncover more falsehoods.

Last week, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell dismissed the whistleblowers, declaring there has already been a thorough investigation into the attack “and that should be enough.” Well, apparently the man who was second in command at our embassy in Libya disagrees.

In addition to getting to the bottom of what the administration knew about Benghazi, and when they knew it, Congress needs get to the bottom of the coverup, which is apparently ongoing. Victoria Toensing, a lawyer for one of the whistleblowers, told Fox News the whistleblowers have been threatened with career-ending reprisals if they furnish new information about the Benghazi attacks to Congress. Who threatened them? What were they told would happen to them? And who else was pressured not to testify?

White House spokesman Jay Carney last week tried to dismiss Benghazi as something that “happened a long time ago.” With all respect, the attack took place just eight months ago. To the families who woke up this morning without sons and husbands and fathers by their side, it does not feel like “a long time ago.”

Moreover, eight months later, we still have not gotten the full story of what happened. If all the facts are out, and the administration truly has nothing to hide, why has it reportedly tried to silence these career State Department officials?

Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that eight months have passed since Benghazi and still nothing has been done about it. Our country suffered a coordinated terrorist attack on an American diplomatic facility. A U.S. ambassador was killed at the hands of our terrorist enemies. Yet no one has been brought to justice — nor has justice been delivered to anyone.

Maybe before the Obama administration closes the book on Benghazi, it ought to tell the truth about what happened — and then actually do something to avenge these dead Americans. Because when a president seems more intent to sweep a terrorist attack under the rug than he is to respond to it, it sends a message of weakness to our enemies and invites new attacks.

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Marc A.
Thiessen
  • A member of the White House senior staff under President George W. Bush, Marc A. Thiessen served as chief speechwriter to the president and to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Prior to joining the Bush administration, Thiessen spent more than six years as spokesman and senior policy adviser to Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Jesse Helms (R-N.C.). He is a weekly columnist for the Washington Post, and his articles can be found in many major publications. His book on the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation program, Courting Disaster (Regnery Press, 2010), is a New York Times bestseller. At AEI, Thiessen writes about U.S. foreign and defense policy issues for The American and the Enterprise Blog. He appears every Sunday on Fox News Channel's "Fox and Friends" and makes frequent appearances on other TV and talk radio programs.


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