Republicans pursue probe of Benghazi attacks, name witnesses for hearing

Witnesses at a May 8 hearing 'have critical information' about terrorist attack that killed the US ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, last year, says Rep. Darrell Issa. He says others might testify if they can overcome fear of retaliation by superiors.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., on Capitol Hill in Washington in October 2012. On Saturday, Issa named three witnesses who will appear at a May 8 hearing on the US response to the terrorist threat that cost four Americans their lives in Benghazi, Libya.

The chairman of a House investigative committee has named three witnesses who will appear at a May 8 hearing on the US response to the terrorist threat that cost four Americans their lives in Benghazi, Libya.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R) of California said the hearing promises to highlight discrepancies between Obama administration officials and others with knowledge about US actions before, during, and after the Benghazi attack.

The Obama administration has been seeking to put such scrutiny to rest, and the president has denied that any whistle-blowers are being discouraged from coming forward.

The witnesses at the May 8 hearing will include Mark Thompson, acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism at the State Department; Gregory Hicks, the department’s former deputy chief of mission in Libya; and Eric Nordstrom, a State Department security officer.

“I applaud these individuals for answering our call to testify in front of the Committee,” Mr. Issa said in a statement released Saturday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “They have critical information about what occurred before, during, and after the Benghazi terrorist attacks that differs on key points from what Administration officials – including those on the Accountability Review Board – have portrayed.”

Mr. Nordstrom, in a previous hearing in October, has described requesting 12 more security agents in Libya, and being told by a superior that he was "asking for the sun, moon and the stars."

The committee has been contacted by “numerous other individuals who have direct knowledge of the Benghazi terrorist attack, but are not yet prepared to testify,” often because of concern about retaliation by their employers, Issa said.

The questions about the Benghazi attack were politically important last year, as President Obama was seeking reelection. And they are relevant today, not least because the secretary of State at the time, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is viewed by pundits as a hard-to-beat contender for the 2016 Democratic nomination for president.

US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stephens and three other Americans died in an attack on US facilities in Benghazi on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Coming also in the final weeks of an intense presidential race, the attack quickly became an issue of partisan politics. Mr. Obama didn’t call it a terrorist attack at first, and initial administration statements conveyed the impression that the deaths occurred because of spontaneous protests of an anti-Muslim video that an American had posted on YouTube.com.

Obama later had to back away from that view, based on evidence that it was a coordinated terrorist attack.

An April report by Issa and other House Republicans claims that the White House presented a “deliberately misleading and incomplete narrative,” when it had immediate information pointing to terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda.

Obama said in a press conference this week that his priority since the attack has been to find out what happened, to bring perpetrators to justice, and to safeguard diplomats around the world.

“I’m not familiar with this notion that anybody’s been blocked from testifying,” he said.

In a briefing for reporters Wednesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney echoed that same point, adding that “Benghazi happened a long time ago” and that “everyone who had something to say was welcome to provide information” to a State Department Accountability Review Board.

The FBI said Wednesday it is seeking information about three people who were on the grounds of the diplomatic mission in Benghazi when it was attacked. The bureau posted photographs of the three people and asked anyone with information to e-mail BenghaziTips@ic.fbi.gov or to submit information confidentially at https://forms.fbi.gov/benghazi-en.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.