Before being murdered by terrorists, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens traveled to Benghazi at the behest of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to establish the post as a permanent consulate, but you won’t find that little factoid in a report prepared by the State Department’s Accountability Review Board investigating the attack.
Review board members were told that Clinton wanted to announce the new facility at a planned Libyan visit in December — details strangely missing from a report that purports to be an exhaustive airing of the circumstances surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
Greg Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission in Libya, offered gripping testimony Wednesday before the House Oversight Committee on Stevens’ visit to the outpost — where security had been severely reduced — on the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., , , according to a CNS News report.
“Did you tell the Accountability Review Board about Secretary Clinton’s interest in establishing a permanent presence in Benghazi?” Rep. Thomas Massie, R.-Ky., asked Hicks at the hearing. “Because, ostensibly, wasn’t that the reason that the ambassador was going to Benghazi?”
“Yes, I did tell the Accountability Review Board that Secretary Clinton wanted the post made permanent,” Hicks responded. “Ambassador Pickering looked surprised. He looked both ways on the, to the members of the board, then asked, ‘Does the seventh floor know about this?’”
According to CNS, top State Department officials — including the secretary — have offices on the seventh floor of the agency’s headquarters.
“And another factor was our understanding that Secretary Clinton intended to visit Tripoli in December,” Hicks added.
Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., asked Hicks to recap that part of his testimony to clarify the point.
“I just want you to say it unambiguously — if that’s the correct way to say it — without a flaw, one more time,” Issa said. “The reason the ambassador was in Benghazi, at least one of the reasons, was X?”
“At least one of the reasons he was in Benghazi was to further the secretary’s wish that that post become a permanent constituent post, and also there, because we understood that the secretary intended to visit Tripoli later in the year,” Hicks said. “We hoped that she would be able to announce to the Libyan people our establishment of a permanent constituent post in Benghazi at that time.”
Although Hicks described U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering, the State Department’s Accountability Review Board co-chairman, as surprised by the Clinton revelation, the information was omitted from the board’s report.(DON’T USE ARB)
Instead, the report states the opposite:
“The Board found that Ambassador Stevens made the decision to travel to Benghazi independently of Washington, per standard practice. Timing for his trip was driven in part by commitments in Tripoli, as well as a staffing gap between principal officers in Benghazi.”
Clinton appointed both Pickering and the review board’s co-chairman, retired Adm. Michael Mullen.
At the beginning of Wednesday’s hearing, Issa noted that Pickering and Mullen were invited to testify before the committee, but both refused. They also declined to speak to committee members informally.
Check out Benghazi whistleblowers’ testimony highlights.
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