Revealed: Three Benghazi survivors set to go before House committee to testify about 2012 attack identified as career State Department officials as their attorneys claim ‘Obama administration tried to silence them’
- Gregory N. Hicks was deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya
- Mark I. Thompson is a former Marine and now the deputy coordinator for Operations in Counterterrorism Bureau
- Eric Nordstrom is a diplomatic security officer who was the regional security officer in Libya
- The House Oversight committee will hear their testimony on May 8, forcing the Obama administration’s hand
- President Obama has professed ignorance of any effort to prevent whistle-blowers from telling Congress about the night terrorists attacked
PUBLISHED: 13:30 EST, 4 May 2013 | UPDATED: 14:54 EST, 4 May 2013
The once-secret identities of the three Benghazi ‘whistle-blowers’ have been revealed just days before they were set to testify at a congressional hearing about the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Libya.
On Wednesday, the three State Department officials will appear on Capitol Hill before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to talk about the September 11, 2012, assault on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Fox News revealed Saturday that the key witnesses are: 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.
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Wintess: Gregory N. Hicks, a veteran officer of the Foreign Service – was in Tripoli on the night of the attack when he received a distress call from Ambassador Stevens
For Nordstrom, the upcoming hearing would not be the first time that he was called to testify on the events of last September.
‘For me the Taliban is on the inside of the [State Department] building,’ the former mission deputy chief angrily said while speaking at a hearing chaired by California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa in October 2012.
During his testimony at the time, Nordstrom detailed for lawmakers how he and the late ambassador had repeatedly asked to increase security at the embassy in the months leading up to the attack, but said that their pleas fell on deaf ears as the situation in the country continued deteriorating.
The two other State Department officials have never publicly spoken about the attacks.
At the time of the deadly attacks, Hicks was the highest-ranking American diplomat serving in Libya.
Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican and members of the House committee, said that Hicks – a veteran officer of the Foreign Service – was in Tripoli on the night of the attack when he received a distress call from Ambassador Stevens.
‘We’re under attacks! We’re under attacks’ Stevens reportedly yelled into his cell phone.
According to the Utah congressman, Hicks reacted to the news by calling Washington to alert officials and set off an ‘inter-agency response.’
According to the State Department website, Thompson ‘advises senior leadership on operational counterterrorism matters, and ensures that the United States can rapidly respond to global terrorism crises.’
Hicks and Thompson are believed to be represented pro bono by Joe diGenova, a former US attorney, and his wife, Victoria Toensing, a former chief counsel of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Of the three men, Nordstrom is the only one who does not consider himself a whistle-blower.
According to diGenova and Toensing, their clients’ accounts of the attacks in Benghazi were dismissed by then-Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Accountability Review Board, and the two civil servants have been subjected to an intimidation campaign by their superiors meant to stop them from telling the truth about the tragic events in Libya.
The revelation of the witnesses’ identities comes just days after the Obama administration denied that it was prohibiting any U.S. personnel who survived last year’s attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya from testifying before Congress about what they experienced.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced on Wednesday that it will convene a hearing on May 8 aimed at ‘exposing failure’ in the Obama administration to respond to security threats to that diplomatic mission, and to present to the public and to Congress an accurate version of the attack that left Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans dead.
‘This Administration has offered the American people only a carefully selected and sanitized version of events from before, during, and after the Benghazi terrorist attacks, committee Chairman Issa, a Republican congressman from California, said in a statement. ‘Not surprisingly, this version of events casts senior officials in the most favorable light possible.’
Issa’s committee has already shed public light on the U.S. State Department’s denials of requests for more robust security at the consulate in Benghazi. And in an October 2012 hearing, it produced evidence contradicting the administration’s initial claim that the the Sept. 11, 2012 military-style assault on the diplomatic compound began as a ‘protest’ sparked by a low-budget YouTube video that lampooned the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
‘Next week’s hearing will expose new facts and details that the Obama Administration has tried to suppress,’ Issa said.
At least four surviving witnesses to the Benghazi attack have retained attorneys to help them navigate the process of testifying before Congress about what they saw. They are all employees of the CIA and the State Department, according to a Fox News report.
California Republican Rep> Darrell Issa (L) has announced a hearing in which the House Oversight committee, which he chairs, will hear testimony from survivors who say they have been blocked from telling Congress what they know. South Caroline Rep. Trey Gowdy (R) has promised that the Benghazi attack is ‘not going away despite the efforts of this [Obama] administration’
President Obama denied on Tuesday that he was aware of any U.S. personnel who were being prevented from sharing their observations with congressional investigators.
‘I’m not familiar with this notion that anybody has been blocked from testifying,” the president said in response to a reporter’s question, ‘so what I’ll do is I will find out what exactly you’re referring to.’
Both the CIA and the State Department have told Congress that no employees have requested the security clearances that their lawyers would need before talking to Congress.
And on Wednesday, Obama’s chief spokesman Jay Carney insisted during a White House press briefing that ‘Benghazi happened a long time ago,’ and that ‘we are unaware of any agency blocking an employee who would like to appear before Congress to provide information related to Benghazi.’
But Toensing, who represents two of the witnesses, told Fox News that administration officials are issuing ‘some very despicable threats to people … They’re taking career people and making them well aware that their careers will be over’ if they testify.
The State Department, she said during a separate Fox News interview, has ‘had two letters from Chairman Issa, one on April 16, the other one April 26, that specifically say, “We want you to provide a process for clearing a lawyer to receive classified information.”‘
‘How can they possibly get up there and just lie to the press corps?’ she asked, referring to the
president and his spokespersons.
Toensing, according to her her husband and partner, who was interviewed Wednesday on ABC radio affiliate WMAL in Washington, already possesses a Top Secret clearance, and would only need a letter from an administration attorney in order to learn what her client already knows.
DiGenova explained on Monday that ‘the Department of State is refusing to grant clearances to Victoria and other people who want to represent the whistle-blowers, in an attempt to prevent the testimony.’
House Republicans issued a scathing report on April 23 criticizing the Obama administration for a series of intelligence failures and an attempted cover-up after the Benghazi raid. When then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified before Congress, she disputed that it was important to determine whether the raid was carried out by terrorist militants or by an angry group of protesters, as the administration first claimed
‘On April 26, Congressman Issa sent a letter to the new Sec of State, John Kerry, demanding that the lawyers who are going to represent the whistle-blowers be cleared – be given clearances – so they can talk to their clients and the committee about classified information,’ DiGenova said.
‘She got a new Top Secret security clearance within the last year. And now they will not clear her or any of the other lawyers to represent the Department of State people. This is so outrageous.’
‘There is going to be a Constitutional showdown here,’ he predicted,’ and ‘Congress is going to win. The administration’s effort to cover up whatever happened in Benghazi is going to fail.’
‘The whistle-blowers are out there,’ diGenova insisted. ‘These are great Americans. These are heroes. They were on the ground in Benghazi. They want to tell their story and the administration is going to do everything it can to stop them from testifying under oath in public. And they want to protect Hillary [Clinton] and the president. That’s what this is all about.’
South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, who serves on the House Oversight Committee, said Wednesday that he was ‘not at liberty to disclose the identity of the witnesses’ who will appear at next week’s hearing.
‘Benghazi is warming up,’ Gowdy promised during a televised interview. ‘It is not going away despite the efforts of this administration.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2319487/Revealed-Three-Benghazi-survivors-set-House-committee-testify-2012-attack-identified-career-State-Department-officials-attorneys-claim-Obama-administration-tried-silence-them.html#ixzz2SZTiSxUn
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