House Republicans Go After the Obama Administration over Benghazi Attack

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Michael Birnbaum / The Washington Post via Getty Images

Fire damage in the main compound villa at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Oct. 3, 2012

House Republicans held a hearing Wednesday on what, exactly, happened in Benghazi on Sept. 11, when an attack took the life of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans. I say House Republicans and not the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform because Democrats on the committee made clear from the beginning they wanted little to do with the investigation – from interviewing witnesses to a committee-sponsored trip to Benghazi — and even less to do with the hearing itself.

(PHOTOSPolitical Photos of the Week, Sept. 28 – Oct. 4

“This should not be about the business of drawing conclusions and then looking for the facts,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, the panel’s top Democrat, said in his opening statement, before noting the hearing was taking place 27 days before a presidential election.

(MORE: Did Obama Spin the Benghazi Attack?)

By the third hour of testimony by State Department officials, most Democratic members except for Cummings had left for the weekend. The Republicans, meanwhile, were only warming up. Over the course of a grueling day, their questioning suggested that the Obama Administration had recklessly ignored warning signs of terrorist activity in Libya, repeatedly refused requests for additional security and lied in the wake of the attack, claiming the violence was part of a protest over a California-made video insulting the Prophet Mohammed.

“This was never about a video,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy, a Republican freshman from South Carolina. “It was never spontaneous, it was terror and I want to know why we were lied to.”

Republicans asked repeatedly why some Administration officials – especially United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, whom the committee is seeking to interview in a classified session — at first attributed the violence to the video, which sparked protests across the Middle East. Clearly, the Republicans said, this was a cover-up by an Administration unwilling to admit it had allowed security to lapse. “You just said that you were in touch with the Benghazi staff almost in real time as this was happening,” said Rep. James Lankford, A GOP freshman from Oklahoma, “but the State Department is still testifying still today that five days later they still didn’t know what happened?”

“There were reports that we received saying that there were protests,” replied Ambassador Patrick Kennedy, under secretary of state for management, a 39-year Foreign Service veteran who took enormous amounts of grief for defending Rice. “That just seems like a very difficult story for me to believe,” Lankford replied.

(MORE: The Motive and the Means: Did al-Qaeda Stage the Benghazi Attack?)

Kennedy said repeatedly that he had seen the same intelligence as Rice and had he been on television at the time, he would’ve said the same thing. “There were conflicting reports,” he told an incredulous Rep. Raul Labrador, a Republican freshman from Idaho.

“But you came to a different conclusion,” Labrador said, citing Kennedy’s statement a few days later that he believed it to be a terrorist attack.

“No I did not,” Kennedy said.

“Yes, you did,” replied Labrador.

Charlene Lamb, deputy assistant secretary for international programs in the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, also took a pummeling. Republicans had help from two of Lamb’s fellow witnesses: Lt. Col. Andre Wood, a Utah National Guardsman who served as site security team commander in Libya from February until August, and the State Department’s regional security officer Eric Nordstrom. Both testified that they raised red flags about terrorist activity in Benghazi and Nordstrom said that his attempts to keep the security they had were rebuffed by the State Department. “Do you know what I was told when I asked for 12 agents? I was told, ‘You’re asking for the sun and the stars,’” Nordstrom said, adding that his biggest frustration in the job wasn’t danger or Libyans but Washington’s bureaucracy.

Lamb replied that even if they had allocated the additional security, all of those personnel would’ve been in Tripoli and wouldn’t have made a difference in Benghazi. “We had the correct number of assets in Benghazi at the time of September 11,” she said. “This was an unprecedented attack in terms of size and ferocity.”

(MORE: Did the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi Not Have Enough Security?)

“To say that you had the correct number of assets on the ground when an ambassador and three others are dead and three more are still in the hospital,” scoffed the committee’s chairman Darrell Issa, “somehow doesn’t ring true to the American people.”

Cummings eventually tried to rescue Lamb. “The implications that you’re incompetent, didn’t give a damn or were sometimes a scrooge,” he said, “I don’t think you’re any of those things. Do you want the opportunity to defend yourself?”

“Yes, sir. We do have limited resources,” Lamb replied. “I made the best decisions I could with the information I had, sir.”

“My goal is to put this partisanship behind us and focus on the security of our personnel,” Cummings said. “If that is our goal we have to examine the funding. The fact is since 2011 the House has cut diplomatic security by hundreds of millions of dollars. The House has done that. The Senate has restored some of it. But the House has done that.” In 2009, House Republicans voted to slash $1.2 billion from State Department operations. In 2011 they cut the Administration’s request for embassy securty by $331 million and in 2012 by another $331 million, though Senate Democrats restore $88 million of that. In 2013,they are seeking to cut another $172 million, a move that Hillary Clinton on Tuesday told House Speaker John Boehner “deeply” concerned her. But no one wants to admit any complicity, especially in the thick of an election season.

MORE: Death and the American Ambassador: What Happened in Benghazi?

69 comments
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James Morris
James Morris

This is Obama's failed foreign pollicy period! Stop the spin. 4 people are dead!

gysgt213
gysgt213

There were 7 attacks on our embassies while Bush was president and after 9/11.  No Americans died in those attacks but people working for us and our protection did.  There were no witch hunts and these attacks were not used by the democrats to score political points.

akpat
akpat

Its interesting that after cutting the state department security  budget by  100's of millions the house would have the gall to do this when they themselves made the cuts.

akpat
akpat

This is another sham to make POTUS look bad during an election. It is just typical of Issa who is fairly worthless .

The most interesting part " The fact is since 2011 the House has cut diplomatic security by hundreds

of millions of dollars. The House has done that. The Senate has

restored some of it. But the House has done that.” In 2009, House

Republicans voted to slash $1.2 billion from State Department

operations. In 2011 they cut the Administration’s request for embassy

securty by $331 million and in 2012 by another $331 million, though

Senate Democrats restore $88 million of that. In 2013,they are seeking

to cut another $172 million, a move that Hillary Clinton on Tuesday told House

Speaker John Boehner “deeply” concerned her. But no one wants to admit

any complicity, especially in the thick of an election season.

akpat
akpat

Yet another Darel Issa waste of time that is being carried out in an attempt to discredit the president.

Strangely it backfired when Lamb pointed out " The fact is since 2011 the House has cut diplomatic security by hundreds

of millions of dollars. The House has done that. The Senate has

restored some of it. But the House has done that.” In 2009, House

Republicans voted to slash $1.2 billion from State Department

operations. In 2011 they cut the Administration’s request for embassy

securty by $331 million and in 2012 by another $331 million, though

Senate Democrats restore $88 million of that. In 2013,they are seeking

to cut another $172 million, a move that Hillary Clinton on Tuesday told House

Speaker John Boehner “deeply” concerned her. But no one wants to admit

any complicity, especially in the thick of an election season.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Like the fast and furios stuff - GOP doesn't want to fix things just use these issues as blunt instruments against dems, many times ignoring of course that it's partly their policies that are the foundation to the problem.

Michael Wensink
Michael Wensink

p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }a:link { }

The Sinaloa Federation launched the Bengazi attack to undermine

Obama's leadership. The Sinaloa Federation is composed of several

factions including American, Israeli and Lebanese. Under the

leadership of Eric Holder the US Justice Department has been

attacking the Sinaloa Federation successfully. They want a friendlier

administration in the Whitehouse.

I have filed a civil RICO lawsuit against the Sinaloa Federation

in the Northern Judicial District of Ohio 1:12 CV 2501.

Joaquin Guzman Lorea, Ismael Zambada Garcia, Darrell Edward Issa,

Charles Ellis Schumer, Orrin Grant Hatch, Robert Swan Mueller III,

Cesare Frank Figliuzzi, Douglas H Shulman, Jose A.Gonzalez, Robert T.

Bennett, John Richard Kasich, Edward Fitzgerald, Thomas P. Perciak

and others known and unknown, are members and associates of the

Sinaloa Federation AKA the Sinaloa Cartel, AKA the Federation a

criminal organization whose members and associates engaged in: (a)

the illegal trafficking of cocaine and marijuana; (b) the laundering

of drug proceeds; and (c) acts of violence, including, kidnapping,

torture and murder of those who lose or steal assets from, are

disloyal to, or are perceived as enemies of the Sinaloa Cartel, and

which operated principally in the United States of America, the

Republic of Mexico, the Northern Judicial District of Ohio and

elsewhere in the United States.

 

Truelitistnot
Truelitistnot

We should have had nothing to do with Libya at all in the first place.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Jay, thanks for this post and your twitter feed of the "hearing". The R's grandstanding was rather brazen, and that's saying a lot. I'll look forward to the tea's being swept out of the House.

Jay Newton-Small
Jay Newton-Small

Groovecity, 

Consider yourself warned. If you can't keep your comments civil and constructive we will ban you.

This comment has now been deleted.

JNS

groovecity
groovecity

Ain't gonna happen buttwhipe. Dream on homo.

sacredh
sacredh

Trying to get banned before you lose the bet?

MichealFitzPatrick
MichealFitzPatrick

This reminds me of the conflicting reports and coverup of the attack on the USS Liberty.

radsenior
radsenior

Here is another example of the fringe extremist opening mouth and inserting head into rectum. This is the caliber just like Paul Ryan, Todd Akin and other TEA-Republican's. Unified on abortion! Unified against women! Unified in obstructing patient-doctor relationship. Unified on forcing Ultrasound/Sonograms on women and having them pay for this procedure. Todd Akin's assertion to "Legitimate Rape" goes together with Paul Ryan's comments:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

If you are tired of politician's forcing their private church/religious beliefs onto others not of their church, take a stand and oust the TEA-Republican's in your neck of the woods!

groovecity
groovecity

If liberals could stand up they'd have already done it. Pathetic whiney little fleas, and that's putting it mildly.

ahandout
ahandout

It wasn't a youtube video or budget cuts.  It was terrorism.  It was the anniversary of 9/11; it was a failure to protect a US ambassador; it was followed by a coverup and multiple lies.

He is skeptical that budget cuts might have affected the outcome of

the deadly events in Benghazi, noting that up to 100 extremists with

rocket-propelled grenade launchers, heavy machine guns and mortars had

stormed the compound.

“There are some levels of attack for which

no reasonable precautions can prepare,” he said, adding that “any

reasonable security presence” would likely have been overwhelmed by

the gunmen.

Read more: Benghazi attack followed deep cuts in State Department security budget - Washington Times http://www.washingtontimes.com...

Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

Dan5404
Dan5404

Another round of grandstanding by Issa and his Republican troupe.  These are the same guys that voted to cut 500-million from embassy security around the world, despite Hillary Clinmton's warning that it could prove to be a dangerous move for security.  Now, they complain there is not enough security.  They are in step with Romney in pretending they didn't really say or do what they did previously.  This party and it's candidate will say or do anything to put their ultra-right extremism into the White House.   Fortunately, they are being caught in their own lies by people who have video or documents showing their real nature. 

ahandout
ahandout

Correct Headline:

Obama Administration Still Lying About Benghazi Coverup.

Who told Rice to lie?  She knew it was a lie.  Someone told her to lie to the American public. 

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

I see you are still wearing your aluminum hat.  Emm... dude, that noise is not aliens eating your brain, it is just the cars zooming by.

Zzzzzzzz....Save your conspiracy theories for your fellow aluminum wearing conspiracy fear monger Far Right Loons. Issa is one of the vilest, and most malevolent of the bevy of anti Obama Neanderthals in Congress.  He is ALSO the co-Father of LIARS (The other Father is his equally rich, smug and entitled buddy, the  LYING Romney).  Issa lied that he was some sort of Security guard for Nixon. What a LIAR. His great wealth got him elected to Congress, now he is a rude fear mongering brute.

My guess is that he also wears aluminum hats judging from the wild and unsupportable claims he has made about his life, as revealed by the SF chronicle. So, you ahandout, are in good company.  The company of lying nuts. :)

Vote Obama/Biden 2012

sacredh
sacredh

Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work I go.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

Thanks for doing the heavy lifting for a while!

BobJan
BobJan

 Attack dog Issa and his 3 teabag poodles. Woof-woof.

outsider2011
outsider2011

 They should investigate that slippery sh|t.

Issa, or so i've read, has a lot of skeletons in his closet.

Magik13
Magik13

Another filthy political stunt from the party of liars, criminals, and polluters. The dark regions of the Astral are prepared for Republicans. 

sacredh
sacredh

There goes the neighorhood when they move in. Even the demons are going to be saying "I don't like those new people. They seem shifty.".

WFFFDFB
WFFFDFB

I can't help but think back to Hillary Clinton speaking in the hangar in the presence of the consulate member's bodies when they were returned to U.S. soil.  She referenced the cause of the attack as the video, when she knew that was not true.  Imagine that.  Standing before the hallowed caskets of American heroes who gave their lives for this country; one who aspires to be Presiedent uses the sacred moment to advance a lie for political gain.   Hillary would do well to convince herself that there is no judgement day.  Because there are no words that can mitigate the cold and selfish nature of such a dispicable deed.  And our President who perpetuated the lie, doesn't have much to be proud of, either.  As for funding, somehow I doubt that an administration that can find hundreds of million dollars to waste on failing ventures like Solyndra, will have trouble finding a vastly smaller sum to protect the lives of our consulate members abroad.  We are not talking about Australia here. I suspect Solyndra alone would have funded bolstered security at every consulate in the world for more than a year. Total incompetence.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

You are so disrespectful. You are far worse than Hillary or the President that day. Their words brought me to tears because they were honoring those dead.

If you are so certain about your understanding, Let's talk about the total incompetence that allowed 3,000 to be killed on our soil.

groovecity
groovecity

The total incompetence of one William Clinton, who had the mastermind of 9-11 in handcuffs and turned him loose, Ivy? Is that what you want to talk about? Respect is earned, this incompetent bunch of radicals deserves none.

outsider2011
outsider2011

 History is not going to be kind to the republicans of this era.

When future generations read about the antics of what these clowns have done, what they proposed and what they tried to accomplish they will be even more embarrassed by the GOP than most people are today.

Maybe it's the ease with which we can get information now; perhaps it's always been this bad. I don't know.

But i am certain that in 20 years, looking back at the GOP going on a witch hunt from day 1, they'll be viewed much as McCarthy is now.

With the same results; a discredited, and ruined man who went too far in his extremism.

Dan5404
Dan5404

Total Repulican propaganda.

WFFFDFB
WFFFDFB

I can't help but think back to Hillary Clinton speaking in the hangar in the presence of the consulate member's bodies when they were returned to U.S. soil.  She referenced the cause of the attack as the video, when she knew that was not true.  Imagine that.  Standing before the hallowed caskets of American heroes who gave their lives for this country, Hillary Clinton uses the sacred moment to advance a lie for personal gain.   Hillary would do well to convince herself that there is no judgement day.  Because there are no words that can mitigate the cold and selfish nature of such a dispicable deed.  And our President who perpetuated the lie, doesn't have much to be proud of, either.

WFFFDFB
WFFFDFB

Absolutely.  We had no business being in Iraq and WMDs was nothing more than a convenient excuse.  You see, I could give a damn about political parties when my son or daughter comes home in a casket. The least that our country owes those who lose their lives abroad in service to this country is an honorable and dignified return to the homeland.  Somehow, standing before four dead patriots and mixing political agendas with solemn words doesn't stand up to the dimensions of the moment. Save the BS for the campaign trail.  Both Republicans and Democrats have mastered that art.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Did you feel the same way when the caskets of all the American dead were coming through Dover AFB as a result of Bush and Cheney's lie about WMDs?

Timmy Kaye
Timmy Kaye

 more men and women are dead and mamed thanks to obama i three years than eight years of bush in afghanistan...where is your horror there sir?  partisans...so easy to spot them.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 And speaking of easy to spot partisans it's interesting to see that you bring up Afghanistan, which is a festering sore that was left for Obama to deal with in Bush's haste to invade Iraq. This was an unneeded and illegal war that killed and maimed a half a million people and left the Middle East even more unstable than when it started.

outsider2011
outsider2011

 Back up that assertion.

That is a pretty serious charge: provide links backing that up.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

mantisdragon, Probably not, as we weren't allowed to see them.

BobJan
BobJan

 Also remember that they banned any press or photos of our "military heroes" coming home in a box. How many Romney boys or their Mormon pals are in the military?

Godwinslaw
Godwinslaw

Thought provoking-if there were Romneys in uniform, would they passionately switch sides based on what country they were in? 

LIDVT
LIDVT

I never met a Romney in uniform, but there are lots of Mormon service members and they run the whole range of skill and rank, just like everybody else.

Timmy Kaye
Timmy Kaye

 when has obama allowed press coverage of that?  hypocrisiy...