The IRS and DOJ scandals may have taken Benghazi out of the headlines, but that doesn’t mean that Americans aren’t any less concerned. According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, 55% of Americans believe that the Obama Administration is trying to cover up the facts about the terrorist attack that claimed the lives of four Americans:
Last year’s deadly attack on a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya is shaping up as a real political problem for President Obama, with concern extending well beyond the conservative base. More than half of Americans say his administration is trying to cover up the facts of the attack, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Fully 55 percent say the Obama administration is trying to hide the facts, while just 33 percent say it has honestly disclosed what it knows of the incident. It’s not just Republicans crying foul: Six in 10 independents and nearly three in 10 Democrats say the administration is not being forthright.
Here’s a look at the results:
Unfortunately, the White House has been trying to avoid the scandal. And many of President Obama’s apologists treat Benghazi in much the same way former DNC Howard Dean does. In an appearance on CNBC last week, Dean called the concerns over Benghazi a “laughable joke.”
During a press conference yesterday, President Barack Obama slammed Republicans who are focusing on the talking points that his administration used to try to set the narrative after the terrorist attack on the American outpost in Benghazi:
Repeated GOP attacks claiming the White House covered up the truth about the September attack in Benghazi, Libya, are nothing more than a politically motivated “side-show,” President Obama said Monday.
“The whole issue of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a side-show,” Obama said during a press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron. “The fact that this keeps getting churned out, frankly, has a lot to do with political motivations.”
“We don’t have time to be playing these kinds of political games here in Washington. We should be focused on what are we doing to protect them,” Obama said. “We dishonor them when we turn things like this into a political circus.”
The Obama administration initially claimed the Benghazi attack, ending with the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, was the result of an anti-U.S. protest gone wrong.
The claim come just days after State Department whistleblowers testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Gregory Hicks, who served as the top diplomat in Libya after the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, explained that it was clear from the very beginning that the incident was a terrorist attack.
What we now know about the post-Benghazi narrative that the Obama Administration tried to create is nothing short of stunning. On Friday, ABC News reported that the talking points produced by the CIA underwent 12 different revisions with significant input coming from the State Department, which was run by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department. The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.
In an email to officials at the White House and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information because it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned …”
The paragraph was entirely deleted.
Like the final version used by Ambassador Rice on the Sunday shows, the CIA’s first drafts said the attack appeared to have been “spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo” but the CIA version went on to say, “That being said, we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.” The draft went on to specifically name the al Qaeda-affiliated group named Ansar al-Sharia.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) didn’t mince any words for the White House during a press conference yesterday — he wants the White House to cooperate with investigators by turning over e-mails relating to the terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya:
House Speaker John Boehner is demanding that the White House release a series of unclassified emails related to the Sept. 11 fatal terrorist attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Boehner is seeking emails Republican lawmakers say were sent the day after the attack from a senior state department official to her superiors in which she reported that she told the Libyan ambassador that Islamic terrorists were responsible for the attack.
“The State Department would not allow our committees to keep copies of this email when it was reviewed,” Boehner said. “I would call on the President to order the State Department to release this email so the American people can see it.”
The letters Boehner is seeking would show the State Department was aware it was a terrorist attack well before Obama sent U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on a round of Sunday talk shows to push the YouTube video as the cause.
His demand comes a day after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on startling revelations brought forward by State Department whistleblowers that shined light on the events that led up to, during, and after the attack.
In what was a highly anticipated hearing, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hosted three whistleblowers — Gregory Hicks, Eric Nordstrom, and Mark Thompson. The three State Department staffers have come forward with a clearer picture of what happened before, during, and after the terrorist attack that took place last September at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which claimed the lives of four Americans.
The three biggest allegations on which Republicans on the committee focused was the State Department’s involvement in the initial talking points that removed references to terrorism, the role those talking points played in preventing the FBI from getting to the consulate to investigate the attack, and a “stand down” order given that kept military assets from responding in its aftermath.
Hicks, who made the most damaging allegations and was the primary focus of the questioning from both Republicans and Democrats on the committee, offered a detailed description of the attack:
In his first full public accounting, Gregory Hicks, a Foreign Service officer and ex-deputy chief of mission in Libya, recounted in vivid detail what happened the night of the attacks. Republicans insist that the Obama administration and the State Department didn’t do nearly enough to aid U.S. personnel under attack in September 2012.
According to Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News, Gregory Hicks, one of the Benghazi whistleblowers, has told House Oversight Committee investigators that military forces were told to stand down as terrorists were attacking the American consulate in Libya, a revelation that contradicts the White House and State Department (emphasis mine):
The deputy of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens has told congressional 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 South Africa.
The account from Gregory Hicks is 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. Hicks gave private testimony to congressional investigators last month in advance of his upcoming appearance at a congressional hearing Wednesday.
According to excerpts released Monday, Hicks told investigators that SOCAFRICA commander Lt. Col. Gibson and his team were on their way to board a C-130 from Tripoli for Benghazi prior to an attack on a second U.S. compound “when [Col. Gibson] got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, ‘you can’t go now, you don’t have the authority to go now.’ And so they missed the flight … They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it.”
Hicks told congressional investigators that if the U.S. had quickly sent a military aircraft over Benghazi, it might have saved American lives. The U.S. Souda Bay Naval Base is an hour’s flight from Libya.
This week’s Benghazi hearing is shaping up to be a disaster for the Obama Administration. The whistleblowers who have come forward are now completely in the open, identified by Fox News as three State Department officials, and their testimonies could offer some long-awaiting insight on the security failures that led up to the terrorist attack, the lack of a military response, and the subsequent cover-up that transpired in its aftermath.
On Sunday, Face the Nation, which hosted House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), whose committee has investigated Benghazi, offered a preview of what we can expect to hear from Greg Hicks, one of the whistlerblowers, in regard to the post-Benghazi narrative and much more:
Everybody in the mission” in Benghazi, Libya, thought the attack on a U.S. consulate there last Sept. 11 was an act of terror “from the get-go,” according to excerpts of an interview investigators conducted with the No. 2 official in Libya at the time, obtained by CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”
“I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning,” Greg Hicks, a 22-year foreign service diplomat who was the highest-ranking U.S. official in Libya after the strike, told investigators under authority of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Hicks, the former U.S. Embassy Tripoli deputy chief of mission, was not in Benghazi at the time of the attack, which killed Chris Stevens - then the U.S. ambassador to Libya - and three other Americans.
There is a showdown shaping up between the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the White House over the latest developments concerning Benghazi and subsequent threats directed at whistleblowers by Obama Administration officials.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama claimed that he was “not familiar” with claims by whistleblowers that they had been threatened. He told Ed Henry of Fox News that we would look into the matter. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who chairs the House Oversight Committee, issued a statement noting that he has sent four letters to the Obama Administration urging that they stop blocking the efforts of whistleblowers to fully tell their stories to their lawyers.
Issa isn’t wasting any time in looking into the lastest developments. According to a statement sent out yesterday, the House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing next week — Wednesday, May 8th — to “expose new facts and details that the Obama Administration has tried to supress,” and it could include the whistleblowers themselves.
With whistleblowers claiming that Obama Administration officials are threatening them in order to keep them from talking to investigators, President Barack Obama is trying to avoid any discussion of the issue.
One whistleblower has information about the events leading up to, during, and after the attack. Another whistleblower has claimed that the military could have responded before the second attack, but that they were never called.
During the press conference yesterday at the White House, President Obama had nothing more to say other than he’s “not familar” with the claims and, essentially, that he’ll look into the allegations.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, isn’t buying the claim. He responded to President Obama’s comments in a statement made available on the committee’s website.
“A lawyer for Benghazi whistleblowers has publicly stated that the State Department is blocking her client’s ability to talk freely with counsel,” said Issa. “Over the past two weeks, I have sent four letters requesting that this Administration make information available about how lawyers – who already have security clearances and are representing Benghazi whistleblowers – can be cleared to fully hear their clients’ stories. I have yet to receive any response from the Obama Administration.”
While she’s now on the speaking circuit making around $200,000 per speech, Hillary Clinton is taking blame for the security failures at the American consulate that resulted in the deaths of four United States citizens, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
There has already been some analysis of the events that led up to the terrorist attack. A report by an independent panel faulted the State Department for the “inadequate” security at the consulate. This report led to three officials being relieved of their duties. Clinton, who was then-serving as Secretary of State, stepped down at the beginning of the year, though her resignation was not connected to Benghazi.
House Republicans have further investigated the incident and released a “progress report” which highlights the various things that went wrong before, during, and after the terrorist attack. The scathing report, which was pieced together by five high-ranking House Republicans, slammed Clinton for her role in the failures that led up to the attack and the subsequent cover-up:
The report, compiled by five House panels after a seven-month investigation, said Clinton approved reductions in security levels prior to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack, contradicting Clinton’s testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Jan. 23.