House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said upcoming testimony this week charging that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to cut the State Department’s antiterrorism unit out of the Benghazi response the night of the attack will speak to the administration’s insistence on making it about a YouTube video.
That assertion will be made by Mark Thompson, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism, at Wednesday’s Oversight hearing on Benghazi whistleblowers.
Other testimony will come from Foreign Service Officer and former Deputy Chief of Mission/Chargé d’Affairs in Libya Gregory Hicks, who received the call from Ambassador Chris Stevens that night saying “we’re under attack,” and Diplomatic Security Officer and former Regional Security Officer in Libya Eric Nordstrom, who previously testified before the committee in October.
“This idea that it wasn’t terrorism, which has been said — both said and not said — plays right into this,” Issa said this morning on Fox.
“If, as the president said in the Rose Garden, it was an act of terror, then of course, the counterterrorism unit that exists for just that reason in State Department should have been there at every moment. But if you wanted it to seem like it wasn’t terrorism, keeping them out of the room allows you to play with this false truth that somehow, it was a video, and the same as the protests in Egypt. Which, of course, from the get-go, everyone knew just wasn’t true.”
Issa said the scandal is “damaging” to Clinton, who may take a run at the White House in 2016. “It happened on her watch. I think the important thing is that it’s — Hillary Clinton is no longer secretary of state, but there are many people still at State Department who were involved in this at the highest levels who continue to keep their jobs and keep this — this symbol of ‘the war is over, terror is behind us,’” he said.
“I think there’s no other real, plausible question but that politics played a part in falsifying these — these statements before, or during and after the attack in Benghazi. And that’s — the real question is, can we get the politics out? Can we make the men and women of the State Department safer? And can we be honest about the real threat of extremism around the world, and even in our own back yard?” the chairman added.
Issa gave the first hints about what will be heard at the hearing Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation.
“We know one thing, the talking points were right, and then the talking points were wrong. The CIA knew it was a terrorist attack, the deputy chief of mission, Gregory Hicks, knew it was a terrorist attack, the ambassador before he died, one of the last words he ever said is, ‘we`re under attack,’” he said.