Witnesses: Military Protection in Benghazi Blocked

By Ferrechio, Susan | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, May 9, 2013 | Go to article overview

Witnesses: Military Protection in Benghazi Blocked


Ferrechio, Susan, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


Eyewitnesses to September's deadly terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya told a congressional committee Wednesday that State Department officials had blocked efforts to aid Americans under fire and later tried to conceal al Qaeda's involvement.

Mark Thompson, acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism at the State Department, told the politically charged hearing that on the night of the attack he was stopped from mobilizing a foreign emergency support team that was specially equipped and trained to deal with emergencies like the one in Benghazi.

Thompson said White House officials told him directly that the emergency team would not be deployed because "it was not the right time and it was not the team that needed to go right then."

Thompson was among three State Department whistleblowers testifying before the Republican-led House Oversight and Government Reform Committee as part of lawmakers' ongoing effort to determine whether the U.S. government could have done more to save the lives of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans killed during the Sept. 11 attack.

Republicans insist that the Obama administration misled the public about the nature of the Benghazi attack and then tried to cover up the deceit. They place particular blame on then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Gregory Hicks, the No. 2 diplomat in Libya who served directly under Stevens, said a second effort to send Special Forces to Benghazi that evening also was blocked. Those troops were told to stand down, he said.

Despite U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice's repeated claims immediately after the attack that it was a spontaneous response to an anti-Muslim Internet video, Hicks said it was clear from the beginning that the assault was coordinated and deliberate. …

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