Fox News has revealed the names of the Benghazi whistleblowers from the State Department who will testify at a special hearing of the Oversight Committee on Wednesday:
Appearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will be three career State Department officials: Gregory N. Hicks, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya at the time of the Benghazi terrorist attacks; Mark I. Thompson, a former Marine and now the deputy coordinator for Operations in the agency’s Counterterrorism Bureau; and Eric Nordstrom, a diplomatic security officer who was the regional security officer in Libya, the top security officer in the country in the months leading up to the attacks.
U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya.
Hicks was at the time of the highest-ranking American diplomat in the country.
Nordstrom appeared before the Committee last fall, where he angrily denounced the State Department for not giving the mission adequate security after the warnings that had been sent by numerous diplomats, including Ambassador Stevens.
The testimony of Hicks might be very telling:
Hicks is a veteran Foreign Service officer whose overseas postings have also included Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican and committee member, said Hicks was in Tripoli at 9:40 p.m. local time when he received one of Stevens’ earliest phone calls amid the crisis.
“We’re under attack! We’re under attack!” the ambassador reportedly shouted into his cell phone at Hicks.
Chaffetz, who subsequently debriefed Hicks, also said the deputy “immediately called into Washington to trigger all the mechanisms” for an inter-agency response.
“The real-life trauma that [Hicks] went through,” Chaffetz recalled to Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, “I mean, I really felt it in his voice. It was hard to listen to. He’s gone through a lot, but he did a great job.”
Who else might testify? It is possible that a CIA employee will testify about the talking points that were altered to remove any mention of al-Qaeda or Islamic extremists. But it is not expected that the Pentagon will allow active duty personnel to testify about how the administration responded to calls for help from people under attack in Benghazi.
Earlier this week, a special operator told Fox News that the Pentagon could have responded to the Benghazi attack with a 40-man rapid deployment force known as “C-110” within 4-6 hours of being activated. They would have arrived too late to save the ambassador but may have arrived at the annex in time to support the CIA people who were fighting for their lives. We’ll never know.
Chairman Issa and several members of the committee have raised expectations about what the whistleblowers are going to say. There is always a chance that expectations won’t be met, which will give fodder to the president’s protectors in the press to downplay whatever information is given at the hearing. But since the witnesses were threatened with the end of their careers if they testified, you can be sure they will have something interesting to add to what we know about the attack.