Skip to main content

tv   Washington This Week  CSPAN  May 12, 2013 10:30am-2:01pm EDT

10:30 am
>> they're having a hard time right now. embracedlements have sequester as a way to bring down government spending. if they do not come to a longer deal, the big question is whether they can do that in a strategic manner, whether they can prioritize and cut specific things. >> you ask them about possibly taking over as the chairman of the armed services committee. what are you hearing on that? >> i am hearing from people who worked in congress there. he is among a few people that are in the running to take over the house armed services
10:31 am
committee. , he is 74t chairman years old. there have been some chatter that he might be considering retirement. like the spot could be open. >he is the vice chairman. he is the no. 2 guy. is a way to shift it around. >> thank you. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] mac thornberry talked about defense issues. watch this today at 6:00 p.m.
10:32 am
eastern on c-span. >> post 9/11 a lot more people cared about national security issues than was the case before. formeras a market for cia folks in national security all the guys you're used to operating in the shadows -- who were used to operating in the status of themselves as commentators and book writers. a somewhat uncomfortable interaction between the agencies and the usually former employees. at the time i felt that water boarding was something we needed to do. as time has passed and as a 9/11 has moved farther back into history, i think i have changed
10:33 am
my mind. i think it is probably something we should not be in the business of doing that. >> like you say that? >> we are americans and we are better than that. a guy who meant well, who served his country well for 15 years in some very dangerous situations. he risked his life to take on al qaeda in in pakistan. prison,s going to leaving his young family behind. >> this weekend, scott shaina on this feature story. tonight at 8:00 on c-span. >> state department officials testified on the september 11 terrorist attacks in benghazi.
10:34 am
witnesses include gregory hicks, a former deputy chief of mission appeared they talk about responses to the attack. this is just under six hours.
10:35 am
10:36 am
to secure two fundamental money washington takes from them as well spent. second, americans deserve an efficient government that works for them. our duty on the oversight and government reform committee is to protect these rights. our solemn responsibility is to hold government accountable to taxpayers because they have their right to know what they get from their government. our obligation is to work tirelessly with citizen
10:37 am
hdogand whistle-bler deliver the american people and bring genuine reform to the federal bureaucracy. -- deliver the facts. it was the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on new york and washington. recognizing that the witnesses before us are actual experts on what really happened before, during, and after the benghazi attacks, i will not recount those events or decisions. these witnesses deserve to be heard on the benghazi attacks, the flaws in the accountability review board's methodology in conclusion. before i introduced the witnesses and explain some of our efforts to learn more about
10:38 am
what happened in benghazi, can we have the doors closed, please? i want to take a moment to reflect on and recognize the brave americans who lost their lives in that attack that day. i also want to note that there are friends and immediate family of those killed or injured who were here with us today. christopher stephens, u.s. ambassador to libya, sean patrick smith, information management specialist. tyrone woods, a security specialist, former navy seal. glendora become a security specialist and former navy seal. -- glenn doherty.
10:39 am
our goal in this investigation is to get answers because their families deserve answers. they were promised answers out the highest level when their bodies came home. the president was there, the vice president, the secretary of defense, and the secretary of state were there. we want to make certain those promises are kept on behalf of those individuals. we also want to make certain that our government learns the proper lessons from this tragedy so that it never happens again so the right people are held accountable. and when those watching these proceedings to know that we have made extensive efforts to engage the administration and to see and hear their facts. the administration however has
10:40 am
not been cooperative. unfortunately, are minority has mostly sat silent as we have made these requests. some examples. on february 22nd, this committee wrote to ambassador pickering and admiral mollen who, as required by law, were appointed by secretary clinton and co- chair of the accountability review board investigation, we asked them to testify in our minority said nothing. when we asked ambassador pickering and out rommel want to speak with us and our committee informally, they again refused and again there was silence by the minority. when five house committee chairman wrote the white house and requested relevant documents about the benghazi attacks, we were refused. the committee's minority did not join in a similar call for transparency, and i wish they
10:41 am
had. on april 29th, this committee asked the state department to make nine current and former officials with relevant information available for this hearing, or a separate transcribed interview. the state department did not even respond. to date, the minority has not made a similar request. mr. cummings, i would like nothing more than have you work with me on this investigation. because we have worked on other areas together, i still hold out hope that one day he will stand with me as this administration does not cooperate. when they ignore our inquiries and when that day comes, together, we will be far more effective. and now, for witnesses. welcome. mr. gregory hicks, a 22-year veteran foreign service officer in the former deputy chief of
10:42 am
mission for the u.s. embassy in libya. after embassadors devens was murdered -- after embassador stevens was murdered, he became the active mission. he was in fact in libya, the highest ranking officer, if you will, america's representative in libya. mr. erik nordstrom is the former regional security officer in libya. he is perhaps the foremost and most knowledgeable person about security requests that were and denied to the u.s. diplomatic mission in libya and in benghazi, ultimately in
10:43 am
benghazi. mr. cummings, we will have, from time to time, our disagreements. i know that for all the members of this committee, we understand that these agreements must be kept on this side of the dais. these brave witnesses deserve the right to the call to testify. these brave whistleblowers are what make this committee's work work. we are the committee that led for new whistle blower protections signed by this president and the public has a right to hear their accounts we, more than any other committee, must respect whistle- blowers and work on a bipartisan basis always to protect them. with that, i recognize the ranking member for his opening statements. >> mr. chairman, i want to thank you for calling this hearing. i want to be clear.
10:44 am
i have said it over and over again. there is no member of this congress, be they republican or democrat, who fails to uphold the right of whistle-blowers to come forward. and i sink it is sad when that accusation is made -- and i think it is sad when that accusation is made against any member of congress. and so, to the hearing. i, too, and all of our members, both republicans and democrats, were tremendously saddened by the deaths of j. christopher stevens, sean patrick smith,
10:45 am
tyrone woods, and glenn doherty. they were servants of the public. they, like their whistleblowers, or people who dedicated their lives to making a difference and they saw the world as bigger than just them. there were the ones who were often unseen, and noticed, unappreciated, and applauded. -- unnoticed, unapplauded. we toe seen that with regard some public employees in this congress, yet they after day, they went out there and did their jobs. on behalf of this congress and a grateful nation, i say thank you. blowersad the whistle- are here. i will do every single thing in my power to protect the whistle- blowers. as a matter of fact, just on may 7th, i sent a letter to john kerry and i sat in that letter that despite the highly partisan nature of the committee's actions, it nevertheless remains very important, and this is a quotation, "to me personally to
10:46 am
remain clear to all employees choose to come forward to congress that their interest will be protected. requeste reasons, i that the department remind its employees of their rights for providing information to congress. as well as their responsibility is not to retaliate against individuals to exercise those rights. the department may already do this as a matter of course, in which case i asked you provide an update on the status of those efforts. whistleblowers are important. they are very important. havef the things that i said in this meeting room over and over again is that we must be effective and efficient.
10:47 am
one of the major roles of this committee is to make sure that government works properly. and so, to all of our witnesses, thank you. i would like to start by expressing my gratitude for your service and my condolences for your loss. i can only imagine what you went through on the night of the attacks. if i had been in your place, hearing ambassador stevens's voice on the phone and wanting to do her thing possible to help him, i would have had some questions you have. where is the military? where are the special forces? where are the fighter jets to rescue my colleagues? these are legitimate questions and i want to know the question -- the answers to the questions myself. last week, there is a widely publicized news report that a team in europe called the commanders and extremist forces could have gotten to benghazi
10:48 am
before the second attack. when i heard the claim, i wrote to the secretary of defense immediately. yesterday, i received an official response. it says the press report was wrong. the team was too far away. the physical requirements were too great. others suggested that f-16's safe in italy could have gotten there in time. according to general martin dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, who testified before the senate in february, he said they could not. this is our highest ranking military member. the fact is our nation's top military commanders have already testified repeatedly that they did everything in their power to mobilize and deploy assets as soon as possible. every independent and bipartisan review has confirmed this fact. we have the best military in the world. even with all these chronological advances, they
10:49 am
could not get there in time. mr. hicks, i know these answers provide no comfort to you or the families of the victims, but this is the testimony congress has received. i have seen nothing to make me question the truthfulness of nation's military commanders. our committee has a fundamental obligation to conduct responsible oversight and that includes carefully examining information that you and others provide. we also have a duty to fairly investigate these claims before we make public accusations. in contrast, what we have seen over the past two weeks is a full-scale media campaign that has not been designed to investigate what happened in irresponsible and bipartisan way but rather launched unfounded accusations to smear public officials. let me be clear. i am not questioning the motives of our witnesses.
10:50 am
of questioning the motives those who want to use their statements for political purposes. chairman so house accused the administration of intentionally -- chairman issa has accused the administration of intentionally not helping. of all of the irresponsible allegations leveled over the past two weeks, this is the most troubling. based on what our military commanders have told us, this allegation is simply untrue. chairman issa said there were told to stay in tripoli instead of going to benghazi supposedly because of the administration's political desire not to have a presence in benghazi. there is no evidence to support this. one plane had already left for benghazi at 1:15 a.m. including a seven-person security team with two military personnel. the decision the next morning to
10:51 am
keep four military personnel in tripoli was not made by the white house or the state department but by the military chain of command. there are other allegations where chairman issa went on national television and accuse secretary clinton of lying. we have now seen this table and she did not sign it. her name is printed at the bottom, just like tens of thousands of cables percent every year. in close, "the washington post" fact checker calls this a "whopper," their word. chair issa attacks susan rice claiming the administration "deliberately misled the american people." the claim has been directly contradicted by our top intelligence official who has already testified that these
10:52 am
attacks against ms. rice were "unfair" because "she was going on what we have given our and that was our collective best judgment that the time." there also been allegations that the accountability review board led by ambassador thomas and admiral mike mullen failed to their actions. so, as this committee is going to suggest that general dempsey, general clapper, and all involved are in a conspiracy of withholding military assets and then covering up? this committee is going to accuse ambassador pickering and admiral mollen of failing to fully investigate these attacks, the least we can do is have them invited to this hearing today or a future hearing.
10:53 am
according to our conversation yesterday, with regards to out moral pickering and mullin, you have said he planned to bring them in, and i appreciate that. last but not least, i want to make it very clear earwitnesses, i respect the witnesses who were here today to offer their testimony. -- i want to make it very clear to our witnesses. as a lawyer and the judge, i have tremendous respect for evidence. we also need to listen to our military, intelligence come and diplomatic officials. then, i hope we can return to the real work, as the chairman has said, of the committee which is insuring we implement the recommendations to improve the security of our diplomatic official serving overseas, those who are so often unseen, and noticed, unappreciated, and unapplauded. with that, and yelled back.
10:54 am
>> i think the gentleman. fortunately today, i am not the witness. ouruld now like to invite witnesses, first, mr. mark thompson, a 20-year career united states marine who come in two years before his retirement from the marine corps was assigned to the state department where he brought his experience in serving in all four marine divisions and in numerous amphibious forces to the state department. for 17 years, he has used that military experience and his accumulated knowledge of counter-terrorism well. he has served and led teams in baghdad, latin america, southeast asia, and in africa. he joined the state department as a u.s. marine and he was brought there because of what
10:55 am
he knew and what they needed to know. in 1998, when he retired from the marine corps, he was transitioned into civil service and was then assigned to what was then the office of the coordinator of counter- terrorism, and he serves and runs that today. in 2004, he served with the coalition provision authority, with our forces in baghdad. in 2006, he assumed his current position where he advises senior leadership on operational counterterrorism measures and insures the united states can rapidly respond to global terrorism crises. that's his job. in addition to his responsibilities, he has led the nsc's direct team in support of u.s. chief's of mission in
10:56 am
response to terrorism events including his expertise being used in that capacity when he was deployed in response to the 1998 east african bombings of our two embassies, the 2000 bombing of the u.s. as coal, and hostage and recovery efforts in latin america, southeast asia, latin america, and the middle east. welcome. mr. gregory hicks, in more than 22 years in the foreign service, mr. hicks has served notably in libya but also afghanistan, bahrain, where we first met, yemen, syria, where we met again. prior to his assignment in libya, handpicked to be deputy chief of mission by chris
10:57 am
stevens, he also served here in washington. he was the deputy director of the office of investment affairs, special assistant to the undersecretary for economic, energy, and agricultural fails -- affairs. trade policy negotiator for the office of the united states trade representative and officer for vietnam and yemen. mr. hicks played key roles in the number of important historical events with this country and the state department. vietnam's secession to the world trade organization, the u.s.-bahrain free trade agreement. the u.s.-vietnam bilateral trade agreement, and the renegotiation of u.s. forces bases in oman. he received five meritorious increases, three on or awards, three individual meritorious awards, and numerous group awards for his service. thank you.
10:58 am
mr. nordstrom. state 15 years at the department, he has served in washington, d.c., honduras, ethiopia, india, and most recently he was the regional security officer for the u.s. mission to libya based out of tripoli. in that capacity as rso in tripoli from september 2011 until july 2012, he was the principal security officer advising both ambassadors on security and law enforcement matters. prior to joining the department of state, mr. nordstrom also served in federal law
10:59 am
enforcement that the department of treasury. welcome to all three of you. would you please rise as is pursuant to our rules to take the oath? do you solemnly swear -- please raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear that the testimony you're about to give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? please have a seat and let the record reflect that all witnesses answered in the affirmative. i'm going to note that i have read your opening statements and they are unusually short, so not worried about your five minutes, but we are here to hear from you, so take the time that you need to tell your story. we will listen. the ordinary time is five minutes. if you take less, you take more, this hearing is about hearing from you on your experience.
11:00 am
mr. thompson. >> mr. chairman, ranking member, members of the committee -- >> please plan microphone a little closer. >> thank you for this opportunity to tell a story. as the chairman indicated, i came to the department 16.5 years ago as a marine, transition, and i have been involved in activities he already subscribe -- described. the night that i was involved this incident, i was at my desk at the end of the day when the first reports came in that indicated we had an attack going on at our diplomatic facility in benghazi. in that facility, we knew we had our ambassador, his security personnel. later, when i heard that the situation has evolved to them going to a safe haven and then the fact that we could not find
11:01 am
the ambassador, i indicated with my leadership that we needed the fact that we could not find the ambassador, i indicated with my leadership that we needed to go forward and considered the deployment of the full emergency support team. that particular team is an inter-agency team and it represents something the state department deploys. it is not the deputy's committee that the national security council deploys. i wanted it considered. i notified the white house of my idea. they indicated that meetings had already taken place that evening
11:02 am
that taken that team out of the menu of options. i called the team within the state department that had been represented there. i asked them why it was taken off the table and i was told that it was not the right time and was not the team that needed to go right then. but we explain the team a little more. it is comprised of the leadership from my office. it is comprised of special operations command, diplomatic security, intelligence community, fbi. it is a holistic, comprehensive organization that is designed to go forward to embassies just as we did as indicated in east africa and the other places indicated, the u.s. as coal and other hostage situations. -- the uss cole. it is the glue and connective tissue that gets all the options on the table for the decision makers. the decision makers in my line of work are the chief of mission and the authorities back here in washington who make the decision when we send people into harm's way. and does not mean it has an irreversibility to it.
11:03 am
the otheg i pointed out was that with the tyranny of distance, at least eight or nine hours to get to the middle of the mediterranean, we need to act now and not wait. sometimes there is the hesitancy to not deploy because we do not know what's going on. one definition of a crisis is you do not know it's going to happen in two hours so you need help develop the situation early. we have a robust comm suite on the airplane that is ably flown by my colleagues. it is on alert to do just this mission and it is designed to carry a comprehensive team to a conflict or crisis and help the ambassador, work for the ambassador and/or the chief of mission to handle the crisis and make sure the have the best of formation possible to make
11:04 am
decisions and make recommendations to send back to washington. those same representatives make their views known back to their current organization so that when we do have deputy committees and principal committee meetings at the white house, we have a situation in which everyone is using the most up-to-date information so that we can figure out what we need to do security-wise, intelligence-wise, what we need to do with the military, diplomatic-wise, public affairs. it works for the chief of mission, and i cannot emphasize that enough. we are not there to assume any activities.
11:05 am
there are experts on the team and they know that the real experts are in the embassy and they work for the chief of mission to do that. my time is drawing to a close, and there and wait your questions. -- i will end there. >> you are pretty soft-spoken, you want get to move closer. >> i am a career public servant. until the aftermath of benghazi, i loved every day of my job. in my 21 years of government service prior to tripoli, it earned reputation for being in
11:06 am
an innovative policy maker who got the job done. i was promoted quickly and received numerous awards. people who worked for me raided my leadership and management skills highly. i have two master's degrees from the university of michigan in applied economics and modern near eastern and north african studies. i have served my country extensively in the mideast. besides libya, and served in afghanistan, bahrain, yemen, syria. i speak fluent arabic. in bahrain, my opposition contacts gave me advance warning of impending attacks on our embassy and anti-american and demonstrations allowing us to prepare and avoid injuries to staff. i learned that knowledge of local conditions and strong connections with the strong -- local population are as important as the strength and height of walls. one reason i'm here is because i have pledged to the foreign service, as part of my campaign to be state vice-president of the foreign service association, that none of us should never again experience what we went through in tripoli and benghazi on 9/11, 2012.
11:07 am
after i arrived in tripoli as deputy chief of mission on july 31st, 2012, i became known as the ambassador's bulldog because of my management style. in the days immediately after the benghazi attack, the president and secretary of state praised my performance over the telephone. president obama expressed confidence in my abilities. deputy secretary barnes and the general said they appreciated our handle the night of the assault and its aftermath. i received a written notes of commendation from undersecretaries chairman and executive secretary -- the executive secretary. incoming larry pope told me personally that my performance was near her row it.
11:08 am
in february, 1991, i swore an oath to uphold and defend a constitution of the united states. i'm here today to honor that oath. i look forward to answering your questions fully and truthfully. thank you very much. >> at understand some of those commendations and letters are in your opening statement and for all the witnesses, all extraneous material will be placed into the record on your behalf. mr. nordstrom. >> good morning, chairman issa , ranking member cummings, and other distinguished members of the committee. for the benefit of the new committee members, my name is eric nordstrom and i am a supervisory special agent with the u.s. department of state. since september, 2012, have been in long-term language training in preparation for my next assignment.
11:09 am
as the chairman noted, i have served in federal law enforcement since january 1996 first as a customs inspector before joining the u.s. department of state. i have served in domestic overseas posts including washington, d.c., honduras, ethiopia, india, and most recently, the regional security officer at the embassy in tripoli. all those assignments had been assignments in which i face the threat of criminal or terrorist attacks. i held the last position of rso during september 11, 2011 on till july 2012. i served as the principal security adviser to the u.s. ambassador including chris stevens. i want to thank the committee
11:10 am
again for the opportunity to appear to provide further testimony in support of your inquiry into the tragic events of september 11th, 2012. i would like to think the committee for your continued efforts in investigating all the details and all the decisions related to the attack of our diplomatic facility, specifically the labors to uncover what happened prior, during, and after the attack matters. it matters to me personally. it matters to my colleagues. my colleagues at the department of state. it matters to the american public, for whom we serve. most importantly, -- excuse me. it matters to the friends and family of ambassador stevens, sean smith, glenn dougherty, and tyrone woods who remembered -- murdered on september 11th, 2012.
11:11 am
in addition to my testimony, and also met with the fbi, homeland security, and governmental affairs. i have discussed my experiences in libya with all of them. i'm proud of the work my team accomplished under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, the protection of our diplomats and the work produced there is all deserving of the time that this committee, other congressional committees and the review board, and no doubt future review boards, will endeavor we get this process right. thank you, mr. chairman and members of the committee, to be able to appear before you today. i stand ready to answer any questions you might have. >> i now recognize myself for a quick round of questioning. mr. thompson, un 3 process of things that you observed in how you try to activate your team. did you do so because you had an
11:12 am
initial review of whether this was a terrorist attack or something else? please be brief. i want to use my time. >> yes. >> thank you. mr. hicks, as the principal officer, once the ambassador had been murdered, the highest- ranking officer on some timber 11th, from the moment that you unexpectedly became the chief, america has heard many accounts of what has happened. we have never heard accounts from a single person who was in libya that night. you will be the first person to observe it. in your own words, take as much time as you want, but please take us through the day of
11:13 am
september 11th, from whatever time you want to begin through when you first heard from ambassador stevens and through the hours and days immediately following that, if you would, so we would have an understanding for the first time from someone who was there. >> thank you, mr. chairman. as -- i remember september 11, 2012, it was a routi dt our embassy, and until we saw the news about cairo and i remember sending a text message to ambassador stevens saying, "chris, are you aware of what's going on in cairo?" and he said no. so i told him that the embassy in another text
11:14 am
that the embassy had been stormed, and they were trying to tear down our flag. and he said, "thanks very much.'' -- "thanks very much." and, you know, then i went on with -- with -- with business. closed the day, and i went back to my villa and was relaxing, watching a television show that i particularly like, and at 9:45 p.m. -- and all times will be libyan times, a six-hour time difference -- the rso john martinec ran into my villa yelling, "greg! greg! the consulate's under attack.'' and i stood up and reached for my phone because i had an inkling or thought that perhaps the ambassador had tried to call me to relay the same message. and i found two missed calls on the phone, one from the ambassador's phone and one from a phone number i didn't recognize.
11:15 am
and i punched the phone number i didn't recognize, and i got the ambassador on the other end. and he said, "greg, we're under attack." and i was walking out of the villa, on my way to the tactical operations center, because i knew we would all have to gather there to mobilize or try to mobilize a response. and it was also a -- a bad cell phone night in tripoli. connections were weak. and i said, "ok," and the line cut. as i walked to the tactical operations center, i tried to reach back on both of the numbers, the unknown number and the ambassador's personal number and got no response. when i got to the tactical operations center, i told people that the ambassador -- that i had just talked to the ambassador and what he said. at the time, john martinec was on the phone with alec henderson in benghazi, the rso there, and
11:16 am
i asked one of our d.s. agents who -- what number did i reach ambassador stevens on. and he said, "oh, that's scott wickland's telephone. scott wickland was ambassador steven's agent in charge, his personal escort for that night, and was with him in the villa during the attack. so i asked -- when john martinec got off the telephone, i asked him what was going on. and he said that the consulate had been breached, and there were at least 20 hostile individuals armed in the -- in the compound at the time. so i next called the annex chief to ask him if he was in touch with the benghazi annex to activate our emergency response plan.
11:17 am
>> please explain the annex chief so that people that don't know as much would understand that. no, go ahead, please. >> ok, thank you. and he said that he had been in touch with the annex in benghazi, and they said they were mobilizing a response team there to go to the -- to our facility and provide reinforcements and to repel the attack.
11:18 am
with that knowledge, i called the operations center at the state department, approximately 10 p.m. to report the attack and what we were doing to respond to it. the next thing i did was to begin calling the senior officials in the government of libya that i knew at the time. and so, i dialed first the president magariaf's chief of staff and reported the attack and asked for immediate assistance from the government of libya to assist our folks in benghazi. i followed that up with a call to the prime minister's chief of staff to make the same request and then to the mfa, america's director. mfa is ministry of foreign affairs. the defense attach? was, at the
11:19 am
same time, calling the leadership of libya's military with the same purpose, to ask them for assistance. once that was done, i called again to washington to report that these -- actions had been commenced. over the night we -- over that night, that is basically how our team operated. i was talking to the government of -- of libya, reporting to the state -- state department through the operations center, and also staying in touch with the annex chief about what was going on. let me step back one minute, if i could, and say that i also discussed with the annex chief about mobilizing a tripoli response team, and we agreed that we would move forward with a -- chartering a plane from tripoli to fly a response team to benghazi to provide additional reinforcements. the defense attache was also
11:20 am
reporting through his chain of command, back to africom and to the joint staff here in washington about what was going on in the country. david mcfarland, our political section chief, had just returned from benghazi, where he had been our principlcer for the previous 10 days. and so, he jumped into this picture by reaching out to his contacts in in benghazi and trying to get them, at the local level there, to respond to the attack. and he also was in touch with our local employee there, as well -- excuse me if i check my notes here. this is a long -- the attack unfolded in four phases or the night unfolded in four phases. the first phase was the attack
11:21 am
on our consulate. this story is well known, i think. the benghazi response -- the consulate was invaded, the -- villa c where the ambassador and sean smith and scott wickland were hiding in the safe area was set on fire. the attackers also went into another building. they were unable to enter the tactical operations center in benghazi, because of improvements to that facility that had been made. they -- scott attempted to lead the ambassador and sean smith out of the burning building. he managed to make it out. he tried repeatedly to go back in to try to rescue sean and the
11:22 am
ambassador but had to stop due to exposure to smoke. the response team from the annex in benghazi, six individuals, drove the attackers out of our compound, and secured it temporarily. there have been estimates as high as 60 attackers were in the compound at one particular time. there were repeated attempts by all of the rso's and by the response team from the annex to go into the burning building and recover -- try to save sean and the ambassador. they found sean's body and pulled it out but he was no longer responsive. they did not find the ambassador. i spoke with a medical officer, one of our medical officers after the attack and the heroism of these individuals in
11:23 am
repeatedly going into a petroleum based fire cannot be understated. petroleum -- according to this to our regional medical officer, petroleum based fires emit enormous amounts of cyanide gas. they told me one full breath of that would incapacitate and kill a person if exposed to it. a second -- it was noticed that a second wave of attackers was coming to attack the facility. and our teams evacuated, five rso's and sean smith in one vehicle that suffered heavy fire, but they managed to break through and get to the annex, and in -- the annex team also
11:24 am
withdrew from the facility and the second wave of attackers took it over. after the second phase of the evening occurs, the timing is about 11:30 or so. the second phase commences after the teams have returned to the annex, and they suffer for about an hour and a half probing attacks from terrorists. they are able to repulse them and then they desist at about 1:30 in the morning. the tripoli response team departs at about midnight and arrives at about 1:15 in benghazi. if i may step back again to tripoli and what's going on there at this point. at about 10:45 or 11:00 we
11:25 am
confer, ane dense attache who had been talking about africom and with the joint staff, "is anything coming? will they be sending us any help? is there something out there?" and he answered that, the nearest help was in aviano, the nearest -- where there were fighter planes. he said that it would take two to three hours for them to get onsite, but that there also were no tankers available for them to refuel. and i said, "thank you very much," and we went on with our work. phase iii begins with news that the ambassador
11:26 am
the ambassador's body has been recovered, and david mcfarland, if i recall correctly, is the individual who began to receive that news from his contacts in benghazi. we began to hear also that the ambassador has been taken to a hospital. we don't know initially which hospital it is, but we -- through david's reports we learned that it is in a hospital which is controlled by ansar sharia, the group that twitter feeds had identified as leading the attack on the consulate. we're getting this information as the tripoli response team arrives in benghazi at the airport.
11:27 am
both our annex chief and the annex chief in benghazi and our defense attache are on the phone during this period trying to get the libyan government to send vehicles and military -- and-or security assets to the airport to assist our response team. at this point, this response team looks like it may be a hostage rescue team, that they're going to -- we're going to need to send them to try to save the ambassador who is in a hospital that is, as far as we know, under enemy control. our contacts with the government in tripoli are telling us that the ambassador is in a safe place, but they imply that he is with us in the annex in benghazi, and we keep telling them no, the -- he is not with
11:28 am
us. we do not have his -- we do not have him. about 12:30 at the same time about 55 diplomatic personnel in the two annexes. on that night if i may go back, i would just like to point out that with ambassador stevens and sean smith in benghazi there are five diplomatic security agents assistant regional security
11:29 am
11:30 am
with us in -- in our residential compound in tripoli, we have the rso john martinek, three assistant regional security officers protecting 28 diplomatic personnel. in addition, we also have four special forces personnel who are part of the training mission. during the night, i am in touch with washington keeping them posted of what's happening in tripoli and to the best of my knowledge what i am being told in benghazi. i think at about 2 p.m. the -- 2 a.m., sorry, the secretary of state clinton called me along with her senior staff were all on the phone, and she asked me what was going on. and, i briefed her on developments. most of the conversation was about the search for ambassador stevens. it was also about what we were going to do with our personnel in benghazi, and i told her that we would need to evacuate, and
11:31 am
that was -- she said that was the right thing to do. at about 3 a.m., i received a call from the prime minister of libya. i think it is the saddest phone call i have ever had in my life. he told me that ambassador stevens had passed away. i immediately telephoned washington that news afterwards, and began accelerating our effort to withdraw from the villas compound and move to the annex.
11:32 am
the -- excuse me. our team responded with amazing discipline and courage in tripoli in organizing withdrawal. i have vivid memories of that. i think the most telling, though, was of our communications staff dismantling our communications equipment to take with us to the annex and destroying the classified communications capability.
11:33 am
our office manager, amber pickens, was everywhere that night throwing herself into some task that had to be done. first she was taking a log of what we were doing then she was voting magazines, carrying our ammunition supply to the vehicle. then she was smashing hard drives with an ax. allen greenfield, our management officer, was a whirlwind of activity organizing vehicles to lining them up, mining the drivers, making sure everybody was getting the things they would need for the coming days.
11:34 am
john martinek was a mountain of moral support, particularly to the guys in thing ghazi. on the phone talking through the whole ordeal. david mcfarland on the phone constantly all the time talking to his contacts in thing ghazi urging them to help. lieutenant colonel phillips and others -- mountains of strength. i am still in awe of them. they asked me in one of the phone calls when we going to move to the annex. i said we will move at dawn. because none of our people have
11:35 am
great experience driving the armored suburbans we would use. our local staff drove for us as part of our security procedures. they of course were not there that night. and we would have to go through checkpoints on the way to the annex to get there. i did not want our people to be going through the checkpoints because i did not know what to expect from the militias. we moved at dawn and we arrived at the annex at about 4:45, 5:00 a.m. a few minutes later came the word of the loiter attack. if i could return to benghazi
11:36 am
little bit -- i am sorry if i bounced back and forth -- the tripoli team basically had to stay at the benghazi airport because there was no transport or escort from the libyans. after the announcement of chri'' passing, military escort vehicles arrived at the airport. so the decision was made for them to go to the annex. before i got the call from the prime minister, we received several calls on the phone that had been with the ambassador
11:37 am
saying that we know where the ambassador is. you can come get him and our local staff engaged on those phone calls. admirably. asking outstanding open ended questions about where was he, trying to discern whether he was live, whether they even had the ambassador. send a picture, could be talk to the ambassador? because we knew separately from david that the ambassador was in a hospital that we believed was under sharia's call, we suspected we were being baited into a trap. so we did not want to send our people into an ambush.
11:38 am
and we did not. we sent them to the annex. shortly after they arrived at the annex, the mortars came in. the first one around with long. it landed among the libyans who escorted our people. they took casualties for us that night. the next was short. the next three landed on the roof. killing glen and tyrone, severly wounding david. they did not know whether any more mortars would come in. the accuracy was terribly precise. the call was the next one is coming through the roof, maybe, if it hit.
11:39 am
two of the guys from team tripoli climbed up on the roof. they carry glenn's and tyrone's bodies down. one guy in full combat gear climbed up there. he's got david -- he strapped david to his back, carried him down the ladder. saved him. in tripoli, we had the defense attache persuaded the libyans to fly to c1 30 two benghazi. we wanted to airlift.
11:40 am
since we consolidated at the annex and the libyan government now provided with external security around our facility, we wanted to send further reinforcements to benghazi. be determined that gibson and his team of special forces should go. people in thing have been fighting all night. they were tired, exhausted. we wanted to make sure the airport was secure for their withdrawal. as colonel gibson and his personnel were getting in the cars, he stopped and said he is not been authorized to go the vehicles had to go because theot
11:41 am
needed to go to benghazi. i told him to go bring our people home. that's what he wanted to do. paid me a very nice compliment. i won't repeat it here. so the plane went. i think it landed in benghazi around 7:30. the other thing that we did was -- and i want to mention jackie's name. she was our nurse. we initially thought we would --
11:42 am
that she should go to benghazi. one of the special forces with lieutenant colonel gibson's team was our last military trained medic available. he had a broken foot and a cast. i still remember him walking to get in the car with his machine gun, carrying a machine gun on his shoulder. with jackie, i refused to allow her to go. because i knew we had wounded coming back. i knew david was severely wounded. i knew others were wounded as well. jackie had just made a terrific contact with the hospital so i center to that hospital to start mobilizing their er teams and
11:43 am
doctors to receive our wounded. when a charter flight arrived in tripoli, we had an ambulance at the hospital waiting. their doctors were waiting for our mood -- for our wounded to comment. they saved david's leg and very well his life. they treated our other wounded as well, as if they were their own. >> at the hearing, mr. hicks >> thank you, to all of you.
11:44 am
it just reminded me of the high cost. it also reminded me of their bravery and the fact that you go around the world and try to make a difference. d to your testimony iff your testimony, i could not help but think about something you said recently.
11:45 am
death is a part of life. but so often we have to find a way to make life a part of death. i guess the reason why i am saying that, i want to go back to something mr. nordstrom said when he was -- he said he wanted to make sure we learn from this so that your comrades and our members of the diplomatic corps who sadly passed away -- so this never happens again. i appreciate it. i know this is difficult. we all feel your pain.
11:46 am
i just want to -- going back to what mr. nordstrom said, trying to make sure we have a complete picture. there is another piece to this, too. that is that we have some balancing to do today. we have to listen to you all and this is really difficult because we've got some statements that have been made and interpreted. while we have to protect you, we also have to protect your fellow employees. protect is maybe not the right word. you understand what i'm saying? that ballots. i'm trying to make sure i get your words -- that balance. i've tried to make sure i get your words a complete picture. you say that " in my personal opinion, a fast mover falling
11:47 am
-- flying over benghazi at some point --[indiscernible] might have prevented some of the bad things that happened that night." did you say that? >> yes, sir, i did. >> he further stated i believe if we scrambled an aircraft over benghazi as quickly as possible after the attack commenced, i believe there would not have been a mortar attack on the annex in the morning because i believe the libyans would have split. is that right? >> yes, sir. >> at a hearing in february before the senate armed services committee, general dempsey was asked whether we could have deployed f-16's from aviano and he explained why we
11:48 am
could not. these are his words. we are just trying to make sure we get the complete picture. for a couple reasons -- "one is that in order to deploy them, and requires the -- this is the middle of the night. these are not aircraft on strip alert. they are there as a part of our commitment to nato in europe. so as we looked at the timeline, it was clear it would take up to 20 hours or so to get them there. i understand you want to place to get to benghazi after -- faster. if i were in your shoes, i would have wanted them to get there yesterday. that is completely understandable but chairman of the joint use of staff said they
11:49 am
said they could not get there quickly. mr. hicks, do you have any reason to question general dempsey's testimony before the senate? >> again, i was speaking from my perspective on the ground in tripoli. based on what the defense at cachet -- attache told me. he said 2-3 hours. but there were no tankers. i was also speaking with reference to conversations i had with veteran libyan revolutionaries. and other personnel who had experienced the libyan revolution and told me the libyan people were very well aware -- that american and nato airpower had been decisive in
11:50 am
the victory. i was also speaking to their view that libyans would not stand if they were aware that american aircraft were in the vicinity. >> i understand. so leon panetta also testified in february. he said this -- "soon after the initial reports about the attack, the president ordered all available dod asset to respond to the attack in libya and to protect u.s. personnel and interest in the region." some of asked by other types of armed aircraft were not dispatched to benghazi.
11:51 am
the reason is because armed uav's, ac-130 gunships was associated tanking armaments targeting and support capabilities were not in the vicinity of libya and because of the distance, would have taken at least mine-12 hours if not more to the point. this was pure and simple a problem of distance and time." do you question his testimony? >> the defense attache said to me that fighter aircraft in aviano might be able to -- would not be over benghazi before two or three hours. that's what i'm going on. >> aggie. i assure you that in regards to your earlier statement, we will
11:52 am
bring in people where we can have that discussion hopefully with people chose on both sides. i think it is a good but if questioning but perhaps not for the basinger -- i think it is a good line of questioning but perhaps not for the ambassador. >> but it is extremely important as i asked his questions because a lot has been put out there and all these folks aren't here for no reason. i know we will get those questions answered. all we have is you today. and i'm glad to have you. remember what i said earlier. everybody on this committee should know this -- i try to do everything in my power to protect witnesses. i don't care if they are called
11:53 am
by republicans or democrats because your integrity and reputation is all you've got. but i also have some other people whose reputations are being questioned. so i have to take what you are saying and consider them too because i have a duty to both. one last thing then i will finish up. even the partisan report issued by our five republican chairman in april including chairman issa clears the defense department. "no evidence has been provided to suggest these officials refused to deploy resources because they thought the situation had been sufficiently resolved." i will end there. i don't know whether we will get
11:54 am
a second round but i promise you i will do everything in my power to make sure -- to protect you. you are so very important and it is your bravery that has brought you here today and we really appreciated. thank you. >> thank you. now to the gentleman from south carolina. >> thank you, mr. chairman. to the families of the victims, it has been eight months. i know there are those of said that as a long time ago but the good news is there is no statute of limitations when it comes to finding out the truth. particularly for those of served and sacrificed and died under our flag. mr. hicks, let's find out the truth or the resident of libya responded to the attacks and
11:55 am
label it an attack by islamic extremists possibly with terrorist links. correct? >> yes. >> hours after our ambassador and three others are killed in benghazi, the president of libya says it was an attack with possible terror links. correct? >> yes, that's what i recall. >> and the president of libya ever mention a a spontaneous protest related to a bdo -- to a video? >> no, sir./ >> when ambassador stephens talk to you, perhaps minutes before he died, what are slightly did he say to you? >> he said we are under attack. >> with a highly decorated, career diplomat have told you were washington had there been a demonstration outside his facility that day? >> yes, he would have. >> did he mention one word about a protest or demonstration? >> no, he did not. >> fast-forward to the sunday
11:56 am
talk shows and ambassador susan rice. she blamed the attack on a video. she did it five different times. was your reaction? -- what was your reaction? >> i was stunned. my jaw dropped. i was embarrassed. but did she talk to you before she went on the five sunday talk shows? >> no, sir. >> you are the high was -- highest ranking official in libya at the time and she did not bother to have a conversation with you before she went on national television ? >> no, sir >> ambassador) which undertakes the president of libya -- ambassador rice directly contradict the president of libya and the last date meant other by ambassador stevens -- the last statement by ambassador stephens.
11:57 am
who is beth jones? i want to read an excerpt from an e-mail should that -- an email she sent that you were copied on. some of these emails have not been released, including the one i'm going to read from. this is from ms. jones to you to counsel for hillary clinton to mr. kennedy. almost everyone in the state department. i spoke to libyan libyan ambassador and emphasize the importance of libyan leader's continuing to make strong statements. mr. hicks, the e-mail was sent on september 12, the day after
11:58 am
benghazi. and several days before ambassador rice's television appearance. when he said his government suspected that former gaddafi regina elements carried out the attacks, i told him that the group that conducted the attacks, ansar al-sharia, is affiliated with islamic terrorist. she told him the -- on september 12, days before the ambassador went on television, is telling the ambassador to libya the group that conducted the attacks, ansar al-sharia, is affiliated with islamic terrorists. mr. hicks, i want to know two things. number one, why in the world would susan rice going five
11:59 am
sunday talk shows and put actuate -- and perpetuate a false narrative? what impacted it have on the ground in benghazi, the fact that she contradicted the president of libya? >> that's the first question -- i cannot provide an answer. perhaps you should ask ambassador rice. >> i would love the opportunity to do just that. >> as to the second question, at the time we are trying to get the fbi to benghazi to begin its investigation. that talkshow actually provided an opportunity to make that happen. afterwards, we encountered bureaucratic resistance for a long period from the libyans.
12:00 pm
living government at this time -- the libyan government at this time is not very deep -- resident, minister, deputy prime ministers, all capable people. it took us an additional 18. to get the fbi team to benghazi. waso the crime scene unsecured for 18 days? >> yes, sir. quite the gem and please finish up. gentleman please finish up. >> we will try to move along. -- hicks. >> we will try to have a second
12:01 pm
i realize we are behind schedule. possible. the gentlelday from new york. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank all the -- fores for your public your public service. my condolences for your lost or military. my father served in world war ii, my brother in vietnam, my husband in the navy. after close observation, there is no place or time that the american military would not be there to protect american lives therey possibly could get i find it truly disturbing and very unfortunate that when americans come under attack, the first thing some dead in
12:02 pm
countrysome did in this was attack americans. attack the military, technocrats and, the state department -- state department. and former secretary of state hillary clinton. i would like to ask some questions about these attacks to get at the real facts. last month, chairman rice i went on national television -- chairmas issa went on national television and accuse her of lying under oath when she testified before congress, that she did not personally approve a security reduction in libya. as proof he claimed that she personally find a cable denying request for additional security.
12:03 pm
he stated, " the secretary of state was wrong. she said she did not participate in this yet only a few months before the attack, she outright denied security in her signature and a cable april 2012." didfact is the secretary not find this cable in 20 12. this cable inn 2012. her name was typed at the bottom of the page which is the general procedure for thousands of cables that come out of the state department every year. so i would like to ask the panelists and their witnesses one question -- it concerns the manual which is posted on the department's website. this manual says the
12:04 pm
communications center will place the name of the secretary on all telegrams to post." thell like to ask panelists, do you agree this is the proper procedure followed by the state department that thousands of cable leave the headquarters every year with the secretary's name at the bottom of the page or on the page? do you agree with the manual, that the procedure of the state department? >>like that is my understanding. yes, ma'am. mr. thompson, yes or no? >> yes. >> two days after the chairman made these accusations, the
12:05 pm
washington post ran a fact checker article and i would like place this in the record. >> without objections. >> thank you. saidhat the fact checker was there was no basis or evidence to show that mrs. clinton had anything to do with the cable anymore than she personally approved a cable on proper e-mail etiquette. the odds are extremely long that secretary clinton ever saw or approved this memo. giving us confidence that these inflammatory and reckless language qualifies as a whopper. anyone who actually knows how the state department operates
12:06 pm
knows that she was speaking the the procedure that was in the could find every cable coming out and when she said she did not find it -- did not sign it, she did not sign it. >> the gentlelday's time is expired. if anyone wants to respond, they may. we will go to the gentleman from utah. >> thank you for being here. mr. hicks, i want to go back to that first claim from tripoli. it included seven rescue team members, including two u.s. military personnel. that plane then returns to tripoli and the first rescue team there is now engaged in the attack. you have no idea when the attack is going to end. the second rescue teams
12:07 pm
preparing to go. i want -- you mentioned in your opening statement and if you could please go back to the second scene. it included for u.s. military. highly trained special forces medic. yet these military personnel do not operate under your authority for them to go. explain to me again exactly what has happened. >> we determined we needed to send a second team from tripoli to secure the airport for the withdrawal of our personnel from benghazi after the mortar attack. >> were any of these u.s. military personnel not permitted to travel rescue mission or relief mission to ?enghazi >> they were not authorized to travel. that's what happened with those
12:08 pm
personnel? us. the medic went to the nurse -- went with the nurse to the hospital and his skills to the treatment of our wounded. >> had a personal react being told to stand down? >> they were furious. i can only say -- lieutenant colonel gipson said this is the first time in my career a diplomat has more balls than somebody in the military. >> so the military is told to stand down. these are the kind people willing to engage. but did -- where did he stand down order come from? >> i believe it came from either africom or socafrica. >> my understanding is he was in washington, dc. is that correct? >> i don't know.
12:09 pm
>> we will have to continue toi need to move quickly to mr. thompson. you are the leader there at the fest, the foreign emergency support team, the only short notice team poised to respond to terrorist attacks worldwide. i want to read an excerpt of an e-mail sent by you to kathleen austin ferguson on tuesday, september 11th, 2012. could you help me understand who she is? >> she is undersecretary kennedy's deputy. >> he wrote i'm told that kennedy participated in a senior conference call with the white house and discourage the best -- the fest option. four hours. -- in four hours. when fbi was contacted --
12:10 pm
responded that this situation be better responded with -- -- two questions -- >> could the gentleman suspend for a moment? earlier there was one document that had not been placed in thei would ask that we get that then mr. chaffetz, if you could make your document available so we can make copies and for any other members on either side, if you plan to use a document that is not currently committee record, i realize we have gotten very little, please do us a favor of having copies so they can be distribute it at or prior to the beginning of the questioning. i'm sorry to interrupt. >> mr. chairman as you recall yesterday, i reminded you we have never with regard to mr. thompson, this is the first time they've gotten a syllable from him.
12:11 pm
>> let me go on. one of the things i said in our conversation is if there were any documents that would be used, we will like to have had them yesterday. with regard to this document, itself like it is a very crucial document and in fairness to everybody -- it sounds like it is a very crucial document and intended to everybody, we will like to have that document and see the documents you talking about. >> in the case of this particular document, my understanding is you do have the document so i will let staff work on that provide additional time if needed if that turns out not to be true. for our witnesses, if you have any documents you are referring would allow copies to be made. i want to make sure everybody has it as soon as possible. the state department has met the documents they show us in camera. mr. chaffetz, i'm sorry.
12:12 pm
>> mr. thompson, d recall that e-mail? were you you given a detailed explanation as to why the fest was not considered for employment and you attempt to attend any siege or meeting to plead your case? if so, what happened? >> the reason i was given was this was not the time for the fest. it might be too unsafe for the fest. i got that through ms. austin ferguson. i re-addressed that with her and her staff two days later. christ did you attempt to attend any meetings? like the next morning, there were btc's. i presume that would be part of that. i was told not to attend those although ct was represented
12:13 pm
there. >> why were you not called into action? it's what you are prepared to do. >> i do not know. >> mr. mysteries. we have this expertise, this is exactly what they trained for and they were never asked to go into action. we had no idea how longer when this is going to end. i yield back. >> we now recognize the gentle lady from the district of columbia. getghazi hearing -- we we >> i have some questions of mr.
12:14 pm
thompson concerning the role of the counterterrorism bureau. is it you're not willing to talk to any democratic member of this committee so i have to rely on statements made to the press, your own statement is biographical about the working have done. one report i found indicated that you believe that secretary clinton and ambassador kennedy tried to cut the counter- terrorism bureau out of the loop. other, and administration officials had to respond and characterize the benghazi attacks. that is the end of that quote.
12:15 pm
is that "g you, that you believe the counter-terrorism bureau was intentionally kept out of the loop for political reasons? >> is not. i indicated that the portion of the counter-terrorism bureau that response to crises was pushed out of that discussion. the counterterrorism bureau was represented in subsequent meetings after 9/11. >> you believe you were kept out for political reasons? >> i do not politicize my job. i have served under three .residents >> the quote is not entirely
12:16 pm
accurate. >> correct. >> that is very important for the record that mr. thompson is not saying they were kept out of the loop for political reasons. -- i am speaking of ambassador daniel benjamin to issue a public statement. "it has been alleged that the state department counterterrorism bureau was cut out of the discussion and decision making and the aftermath of the benghazi attacks. i can say with certainty that as the former coordinator for it is simplyrism untrue." >> i agree that the counter-
12:17 pm
terrorism bureau was included but there is a distinction with respect to the portion of the counter-terrorism bureau that would be most affected in the aftermath of an attack. thatu yourself are saying although the bureau was represented some house some portions of the bureau was not represented? how was that? that is what happened, ma'am. >> he said the bureau was a central participant in the interagency discussion about the longer-term response to benghazi. at no time was the bureau sidelined. this seems to directly contact your testimony.
12:18 pm
>> i respectfully disagree. somehow some part of it was not in. comparisonof the bureau is responsible for responding to a crisis. other members of the office were responsible for the meetings. they did their best at those beatings -- at those meetings. >> the ambassador says>> who down the chain of line gets consulted. the ambassador says after the attacks, the first questions arise that involve the counterterrorism bureau, with whether or not the foreign emergency support team should be deployed. the question of deployment was posed early, and the department decided against such a deployment in my view, it was appropriate to pose questions, and the decision was a correct
12:19 pm
one. were you aware your superiors -- were consulted about the decision not to employee the support team? >> you can answer that. the gentlelday's time has expired. >> i was told that by the undersecretary's office. the normal process for deploying the team is that the assistant secretary level, those options are discussed. at that convening of that, that decision is recommended to the deputies committee. it is not solely a state department function or authority to launch the foreign emergency support team. even though we are one part of it.
12:20 pm
>> we now go to the gentleman from oklahoma. >> did the facility in the ghazi meet the minimum security department? >> according to regional security officers, at the time, they did not. >> what about these services and tripoli? >> again, according to the regional security officer and tripoli, they were not meeting its. >> you think they were close to meeting the standards? >> no sir. >> before you left, do the facilities have the number of personnel you had requested? >> no. >> there are a very small number of facilities worldwide that are considered critical or
12:21 pm
high threat level. tripoli and benghazi, where they listed as critical or high threat level? >> they were. that is something i put in my written testimony. >> who has the authority to place -- >> the standards go in tandem with embassy construction. both derive from the bombings or were strengthened after that. it is my understanding that since we were the sole occupants of those facilities, benghazi and tripoli, the only person who could grant waivers or exceptions to those with the secretary of state. stevensas ambassador headed to benghazi?
12:22 pm
there were security issues listed in numerous reports leading up to the trip there. why was the ambassador headed there? >> according to chris, secretary clinton wanted benghazi to a permit constituent posts. timing for this decision was important. chris needed to report before september 30, the end of the fiscal year, on the physical and political security environment in benghazi to support an action from a convert benghazi temporary facility to a permanent facility. addition chris' want to make o make tmbol gesture t the peope
12:23 pm
of benghazi that the united states stood behind their dream of establishing a new democracy. >> why was this timing important? was her hesitation about going at that moment for that length of time? could he have waited? >> he had originally planned to go to benghazi in october. we had a two-week gap in the principal position. he was departed on august 31. his replacement was not due until september 15. we cover the initial 10 day. with david mcfarlane. he chose to go for those reasons. >> a with the timeline to make this a facility -- permit facility? >> we had funds available that we could transfer from an account set aside for iraq. they had to be obligated by september 30. >> where did those instructions come from? >> this can from the executive
12:24 pm
office of the bureau of middle eastern affairs. >> plus it was an opening as well. on march 28, there is a cable that you sent to washington requesting to keep the diplomatic security that you already had on the ground. did you draft that cable? >> i did. who was the intended recipient? >> generally those types of requests would go through -- certainly to undersecretary management and middle eastern affairs, will be the
12:25 pm
distribution for that. >> thank you. >> i think the gentleman for that. you recognize. >> mr. hicks, let me start by acknowledging how riveting your testimony was of the events, and thanking you. for sharing with us the brave action that occurred that night. i do not think we have heard enough of that. the get is important. we have an important responsibility here. this is to ensure that whatever happened that night actually gets six. -- gets fixed. i think that is a legitimate process for this committee to do. i hope we move on on that basis. i know we had accountability review board set up immediately. they were rather harsh in their determination.
12:26 pm
they made 29 different recommendations. we should be finding out whether the secretary of state and the department are implemented those recommendations. i hope at some point we can get to that. i know that two of the three witnesses this morning actually spoke with the review board. the third chose not to contact for whatever reason. disturbingly, he accused the administration of deliberately misleading the public about benghazi. the basis for these charges were statements made by ambassador rice on new shows sunday after the attacks. the talking points were provided by the intelligence
12:27 pm
which were supposedly manipulated for political purposes. what was quoted by the chairman of that tv show is that the public was deliberately misled. it was a political decision. you told our investigators you were involved with those talking points. >> yes congressman. i offered my services to the arb. i do not try to keep myself out of the process. >> thank you. >> we know that there was conflicting reports about what happened. there been a demonstration. you believed it was otherwise. we know the president libya contradicted with that statement on that.
12:28 pm
the intelligence community insisted that it received suggestions that it was a demonstration. we know the reporting was wrong. you mention of demonstration was put into talking points by the intelligence community, not the white house of the state department. i want to play a video here if we can >> she was highly criticized for following what was your feeling inside? your personal beliefs? >> i thought it was unfair. the hits she took. i do not think it was appropriate. she was going on what we had given her. that was ire collective of what should have been said. >> he says he thinks the attacks on ambassador rice were unfair.
12:29 pm
do you have an argument with veracity? >> there was no report from the u.s. mission in libya of a demonstration. >> the question i have for you, do you contest the general clappers veracity? lying or is he telling the truth about what information he gave ambassador rice? >> i do not know anything about the development of those talking points. >> we have not investigated this yet. it'll be interesting to know committee has. they have all of the talking points. one of your representatives that is on theone of your present as is on the investigation says general petraeus made it clear that the change was made to protect classified source
12:30 pm
information. it was not the direction of the white house. inmight be interested protecting classified information because we have had situations where they've gone and come back and had a flare about what they disclosed. in addition, it was a bipartisan report that similarly stated no changes were made for political reasons and there was no attempt to mislead the american people about what happened in benghazi. people who've actually seen the documents, conducted a real investigation, reject the allegation they were made for political purposes or to mislead the american people. >> thank you. let me yield to the gentleman from ohio. >> mr. hicks, you've always received good reviews. is that accurate? >> yes.
12:31 pm
i am just a country boy from ohio. i look at your resume, it is impressive. it is amazing the things you have done. immediately after the attack, everybody said you did a great job. you look at the addendum here. you did an outstanding job. the deputy secretary state said her rote effort. secretary clinton give you a call and said you did a extraordinary job under circumstances. >> we had a videoconference with our staff. >> is a true the president the eyes it's called you up and said you did an outstanding job under severe circumstances? >> he did. >> all that seems to change for your getting all this praise. all that seem to change in the phone call you were on from beth jones? is that accurate?
12:32 pm
>> the focal after the interview, i asked -- >> you are on a phone call with beth jones. it seemed to change that because you ask them what? >> i asked her why the ambassador had said there was a demonstration when the in this he had reported only an attack. >> what response did you get from beth jones when you asked that question my >> she did not know. >> was like he should not have asked that question? what was the situation request the sense i got that i needed to stop the line of questioning. >> did things continue to deteriorate question mike you've had this outstanding service record. as i read the transcript, it seems to me that he came to a head in phone calls you were on with lawyers from the department of state prior to congressman shay fits coming to visit? is accurate?
12:33 pm
>> yes sir. >> tell me about what those lawyers instructed you to do. >> i was told not to allow the rso to be personally interviewed by congressman shay fits. >> don't talk to the congress do? you have had several congressional delegations. has that ever happened where lawyers get on the phone to you prior to a delegation -- don't talk with the people from congress him and define at what took place? >> never. >> and you had dozens of the congressional delegations you have been a part of. >> yes sir. on the phonee
12:34 pm
accompanied the delegates and tried to be at every single meeting you had. >> that is true. --what happened in the focal the phone call after that? >> the lawyer was excluded from the meeting because his clearance was not high enough. the delegation has insisted that the briefing not be limited -- >> he tried to get into that meeting? >> spaceyes, but the annex chief would not allow it. the briefing needed to be at the appropriate level of clearance. >> in a conversation after this the lawyer was not allowed to be in. you had another conversation with cheryl mills. >> she is the counselor with the department of state. >> is a important -- she's a fixer for the secretary of state. is that accurate?
12:35 pm
>> yes or. tell me about that phone call. >> is is not considered to be good news. likes what did she had to say to you? >> she demanded a report on the visit. >> was she upset by the visit? >> she was upset. >> was she upset that that? >> she was very upset. >> mr. chairman, here is a guy with 22 years of outstanding service to our country, 22 years. praise by everybody. and yet now they are perfecting
12:36 pm
-- obstructing it it because he will not help them cover this up. he is an honorable man. you're telling us you're getting this treatment from a people who praise you. >> the gentleman from missouri. >> thank you for yielding. i want to thank the witness for being here today. you know the accountability review board made a number of recommendations to better strengthen overseas embassies like the one in benghazi. mr. norstrom, you told our staff that you read the unclassified report. you think that implementing his recommendations -- >> absolutely. i've had a chance to review that and the kennedy reports. they are copper has unreasonable.
12:37 pm
>> i guess a diplomat like you probably feels very disheartened when you read in congress has cut this budget for amnesty security, and congress has been cheap on providing protection to our personnel. securityto make possible, at our embassies, it is one recommendation in the support that attempts to grapple with these issues. increasedthe side of attention.
12:38 pm
the solution requires a more serious and sustained commitment from congress to support state department needs, which in total costs to a small percentage of the national budget and that's bad for national security. it is exactly what we in congress have failed to do in the past. let's look at our record. house republicans voted to cut the ministration's request for him to see security funding by $128 million. that was in fiscal year 2011. the fiscal year 2012, they cut the request by even more. $331 million less than requested. our public in counterparts can just saved these guys are based on the priorities.
12:39 pm
when asked whether he voted to cut the security by over $300 million, on cnn, he responded absolutely. we have to make priorities and choices in this country. these cuts have impacts. series impacts. i want you to know that my priority is including funding these recommendations. it will save lives. the arb, just to be clear, he provided information to the arb. mr. hicks, is it true you provide information? >> yes. >> it was led by ambassador pickering, who happens to be the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. the review board interviewed
12:40 pm
more than 100 people, reviewed thousands of pages of documents, and viewed hours of videotape. the board made 29 recommendations to improve security systems and procedures to prevent huger deadly attacks. a key finding made by the board related to the availability of funding, specifically for temporary facilities in high- risk, high threat environments. the board stated, the department should be developing minimal standards for occupancy of temporary facilities in high-risk, high threat environments, and see greater flexibility for the use of bureau of overseas buildings operations. so they can be made available for upgrade at such facilities pre-is important to note that benghazi was designated as temporary facility.
12:41 pm
do you agree with the board's review? >> that is what i talk with the board. my concern is that there is no such thing when you look at the standards for a temporary facility. by the very nature,. developed recommendations. you agree? >> i'm not a security expert. i'm a diplomat. i support every improvement that can possibly be made to improve our security overseas, including training of our personnel. >> i would think the general from missouri. were you here on october 10 when the person who had those requests for additional
12:42 pm
security said money was not a factor? do you remember her? do your member what she said? >> she said resource was not an issue. tohink i would also point the arb report that they talk to our chief financial officer also said that resources were not an issue. >> the arb says that resources were an issue. >> the question that i have but the arb is not with the arb has, it is what it doesn't have. that it stopped short of the very people that need to be asked those questions. the undersecretary of management, those are perfect questions that need to be. >> if we ever met
12:43 pm
recommendations it will help prevent future attacks. >> i appreciate that. in the earlier hearing, the one thing we did discover is this facility was not able to take the blows, even of a small bomb had gone off earlier. this consulate had been attacked twice. the breach the wall. there was an awful lot of recognition within the imposition -- that it was inconsistent facility. we now go to the gentleman from florida. >> thank you. first of all, i have to again tell the families that we will continue to pursue this. all the facts need to be known and hold people accountable. next to the witnesses, thank you for your service. think you for your bravery in coming forward. again, some of the commendable acts of the state department employees who described.
12:44 pm
asdy may know, a question about the report, accountability review board report, i have the unclassified version. there is a classified version also. this is available online. we have a responsibility under law to review these situations, to go to people who actually had first-hand knowledge. mr. thompson, you have a very important position. >> correct. >> did you participate? you were not interviewed? ok. you were on the job during this. >> i was at my desk that night until 2:00 in the morning. >> you were not allowed to
12:45 pm
convey information? >> on the 17, i had a request be on the board. >> have you ever been interviewed? >> i have not. what's your one of the primary players, but if the board failed to interview you. is tharr >> that is correct. >> is mr. thompson an important player in this? >> i would say yes. certainly in the aftermath of the attack. >> were you interviewed by the board? >> i was interviewed by the board. the interview took about two
12:46 pm
hours, and it was incomplete in my mind. a few days later, i had a separate meeting of the executive secretary. you did have a follow-up meeting. >> to amplify some issues that had been discussed at the meeting. >> mr. norstrom, did you participate? >> i did. on two occasions. i shared with them -- >> could you share of the process worked? >> the same. i thought it was thorough and professional. their reports is comprehensive. they stop short interviewing people that i personally know were involved in key decisions that led to how those events unfolded. , specifically how those buildings were staffed and constructed.
12:47 pm
those were critical. >> in the unclassified version, they said that security in benghazi was now recognized enablement it as a shared responsibility of the bureau's in washington charge with stovepipe decisions on security. that part is interesting. the embassy of tripoli did not demonstrate strong and sustained advocacy with washington for increased security for special missions. would you agree with that? >> if i could speak to that, i would disagree with a collaborative process. i'm not sure of the term used. on a number of occasions, i testified in october, i raise issues. the ambassador raise issues. the reports on decisions of the
12:48 pm
compound and the benghazi compound were decided in washington. those decisions were not cleared with us or shared with us. aat doesn't seem collaborative process. > i want up time for mr. nixon tell us about his -- >> i monitored the discussions that eric has testified about from my arabic language students. when i arrived in tripoli, i had the understanding that these decisions had been settled and that we were not to relitigate them. in terms of the number of personnel at post. toegan a process to attempt relitigate them in mid-august
12:49 pm
greeted we held a meeting to discuss the matter. we were unable to return to that issue before 9/11 occurred. >> thank you. we now recognize the gentleman from massachusetts. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank the witnesses for their courageous service and your willingness to come before the committee here. i also want to offer my condolences to ambassador stevens and his family. these were american heroes. they were our very best. i do not want that to be overlooked. these individuals were regarded as our very best, including the ambassador stevens. without question, his opinion and the respect that his experience and authority in
12:50 pm
matters in lebanon, libya, not only in tripoli but also in benghazi was unquestioned. it showed in the difference those were given to his decision. the report singled out areas where i thought they were trying to identify where the decisions that were made may have been deficient. they do identify on page 30. they talk about the bureau of diplomatic security. there appeared to be a real confusion over who ultimately was responsible and empowered to make decisions based on and security considerations. they go on further to say that
12:51 pm
the bureau showed a lack of leadership with respect to benghazi, failing to -- at the same time with attention to late -- the bureau's front office showed a lack of ownership of security issue. and a tendency to rely totally on the diplomatic security for the letter. nextthey point to in the couple of paragraphs is they thought the result, the special mission to the benghazi extension, was a temporary residential facility, not officially notified to the host government, even though it was a full-time office facility, resulting in the special mission compound being accepted from office facility standards and accountability understood your
12:52 pm
embassy construction and counterterrorism. your point exactly. the oversee security policy oard -- what they are saying is there was an extension made that there was a lowering and expectations of their, that the resources for fiscal security and the personnel assignments needed at that was not given adequate priority. the diplomatic security to make those repairs. is that something that is usually seen as a weak point in this whole process that allows benghazi ill-prepared for the attacks on september 11? >> i do. as i said, i think that what remains on scene is what made that decision to make this a temporary facility. at one point, i was told by the undersecretary that the
12:53 pm
recommendation that we wanted to make, the upgrades, both in trouble he and may cause he would not be made. they said, my understanding they agree to the current compound being set up in occupied as is. the arb in particular, i requested, is anything in writing, i would like a copy. as a month before the attack. i got got no confirmation as to who made those decisions. nor did i get a copy of that. >> status was done level at that point? limbo at that point? i know there was discussion earlier. >> my understanding was that the facility, the types of facilities are whether or not personal occupancy of the
12:54 pm
building, or are you a partial occupancy, or are you in a building which is owned by the host nation. clearly we were the sole occupant. that is the standard. it is very clear. we do not meet any of the standards. >> my time is expired. >> you use the term m for the undersecretary. that is to would have been the person who said no, or this is good enough. >> i am sure he had reasons fori'm not going to criticize -- reasons for that decision. i am not going to criticize those. smiley concern is that nobody had looked at those, whether it be the arb. >> mr. turner.
12:55 pm
>> thank you. i want to thank you for being here today without your statements, there is a tremendous amount of information that we didn't know. it is important you are giving us this information. we have the condolences for the family. we have two stand-down decision that we have been able to discuss. hicks, you told us of colonel gibson. i am fascinated with the standard order to colonel gibson. we want toe that know who gave colonel gibson the order, and why. i would like to review that order with you and what you experienced that night. you told us there was a transfer that went been provided in the -- and that you indicated that colonel gibson should go. standl gibson was told to down. left without him
12:56 pm
landing in benghazi at 7:30. let's start first with the review of what is colonel gibson's team. what were they doing in libya? >> the remaining members of the special>> the numbers of the special security teams, special forces -- the remaining members of the special security teams, special forces to protect embassy tripoli after the return of the establishment of the embassy and 2011. on the first of august, the secretary of defense signed an order changing their status from being security team to a training team. and transferring the authority from the chief of mission to general him. on august 6, two members of that team were in a carjacking incident as they were driving early in the morning outside of the compound.
12:57 pm
they had to use their weapons in order to escape that armed attack on their vehicle. in light of that, the general decided to draw down the team from 14 personnel to for -- to four personnel. colonel wood and nine others testified before the committee last october letter believe in the middle of the month. the lieutenant colonel are the -- lieutenant-colonel and the three remaining members of that came our remainder of that group. >> the chain of command had been changed and they had been reduced. these are highly trained individuals. they would have been useful in certain situations. >> particularly given the fact that the personnel and benghazi
12:58 pm
were exhausted from a night of fighting against very capable opponents. >> to you know why they were told to stand out? >> i do not know why. lex is there any reason to know why the situation was over? any reason to believe that there was no longer any danger in benghazi? >> there was every reason to believe that our personnel were in danger. usan article appeared in today just this week. as early as last monday, major robert furman said the military account issued after the attack hasn't changed. ofre was never any kind stand down order to anybody. as a broad statement. what is your reaction?
12:59 pm
thatcan only again repeat colonel gibson said he was not to proceed to board the airplane. >> your first experience on the site standing next to colonel gibson on his way on that transport, and being told not to go contradicts what was said on behalf of the pentagon. >> yes. >> did the embassy have a defense>> to the in busy have a defense attaché on staff? -- did the embassy have a defense attache on staff? did you ask him that evening if there were resources coming from the military? what was your reaction? >> my reaction was that we are on our own. we are going to have to try to pull this off with the resources that we have available. >> i do not know.ns surpri
1:00 pm
i think they were. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> before we go to mr. connolly, because most people in the audience do not understand t commission authority, will you -- chief admission authority, would you run us through who was under your chief commission authority, and who wasn't. haveher words who did you a command and control of thatwe are talking about military assets. a lot of folks here are hearing two chains of command. to chains of command. >> all civilian personnel in civilian libya were under chief of mission authority. then that has to me. before members of the special forces team were under general hams authority, we had personnel in country, and i was unclear whether they were on their way are not.
1:01 pm
>> anyone you had under your authority, they went downrange if you ask them to bring the others were not allowed to. >> yes, sir. >> thank you. you will have your full time. >> thank you for the clarification. the defense -- it was not interviewed by the arb. as a mistake of fact. he certainly was. you can look it up. it is documented. he was interviewed. that evidence was evaluated. it is not true that secretary kennedy was not part of that process. he certainly was. i would ask the chairman so the record so reflect. >> who said he wasn't? >> we heard from the table.
1:02 pm
>> mr. thompson, statement of vector b did to you that your bureau was actually literally kept out of post benghazi developments. oh are those statements contributed to you accurate? >> i reported to dan benjamin at the time. >> was he included? >> he was overseas of the time. >> was he kept informed? >> i have no idea. the >> would it surprise you to hear that he was and
1:03 pm
contradictory statements by? this charge is simply untrue. it i was out of the country was in frequent department. at no time did i feel it was being left out of deliberations. >> i disagree. he thinks he h was being adequately informed. >> he is the head of the bureau. think it is his testimony. evidentiary record.
1:04 pm
.> i will hold the time that he iss had said now anticipated future witness. we can clear that up. thank you. havenot think anyone could heard your account. without being moved. the trauma of what you must have alice in literally been shipley in may. i do not remember if we had a chance to meet or not. not allowed to stay in libya overnight. what struck me was the airport
1:05 pm
security was struck by a militia. what goes through the mind is what could go wrong with this. it is an unstable situation. think about the domestic situation? instability in a post gaddafi situation. could you share with us some insights of what you found in terms of that inherent stability? >> thank you for being my rep. thatnot recall saying anyone other than myself testified are was a witness.
1:06 pm
i want to be clear about that. the security climate in libya, it was highly unstable. elections and july was heading in the right direction. they were trying to of points a new prime minister. this was very unstable. it had been well documented. he had assassinations in car bombings in benghazi. this was not necessarily makingbuilding towards our post a permanent post. the british are contemplating.
1:07 pm
they left after their impostor this.ed we have had car bombings. the we have had islamic extremist militias. they are shuttling for improved security. we are proud of you. i am a member of the house foreign affairs committee. were there ever to be any hints of retribution with your willingness to come forth and so your version of what happened. >> the gentleman from tennessee.
1:08 pm
>> thank you. interest andeat about what happened in this tragic instance. we've already heard him say that he was never interviewed even though he requested the interview. you know of other witnesses that have first hand knowledge? >> i do not believe. >> i was a criminal court judge. that anyonesing with firsthand knowledge would not be interviewed about this unless someone did not have a complete report. told was the reason you were not interviewed?
1:09 pm
>> we were not given a reason. feel the report lets any bureaucracy off the hook? in our system of government the decision making authority is at the level of senate confirmed individuals. the report seemed coming out buff tripoli on conditions there, particularly the fact that we have to provide a daily reports of coup was in country to undersecretary kennedy and the fact that he made the decision as to who came to benghazi or did not, that
1:10 pm
budgets came to his table. suggest there is some responsibility there. >> let me ask you this. surprisingng i find is do the security people not considered the date of 9/11? some said this was considered to be a high threat mission.
1:11 pm
did they not realize that 9/11 is a high-security date and they should be prepared for terrorist activities on that date in particular? >> cerly when i hear security i think of greg nordstrom so i will noto down the security trip to far. on the anniversary of 9/11, since 9/11, 2001, we have all had our antenna up so to speak and then forward leaning if not physically, mentally on that particular day, yes. >> the report puts primary blame for this situation on the bureau of diplomatic security. i would like to ask if any of you have a comment about that? do you think that is fair? >> if i could, congressman, this might also address congressman connolly's question. my concern with the report is not that undersecretary kennedy was or was not interviewed. i do not know who was interviewed. that is part of the confidentiality of it. but there has been a lot of discussion of how many people were supposed to be there or not supposed to be there. yhose things are not driven
1:12 pm
regulations and law. obviy,a bitubjective opini to w authorized in october. embassy employees, u.s. government employees, to go into facilities that did not meet legal requirements. i do not know who made that decision. and the reason why is because, as ambassador pickering said, decided to fix responsibility on the assistant secretary level and below off. how i see that is, that is an accountability of mid-level officer review board. and the message to my colleagues is that if you are above a certain level, no matter what your decision is, no one is going to question it. and that is my concern. >> mr. hicks, did you find other shortcomings in the report? >> i found shortcomings in the
1:13 pm
process. although i was interviewed for two hours, i was never allowed to review the recording of my testimony to the board. i was never given an opportunity to read the unclassified report before it was published to see if my testimony had been incorporated or properly at all. and i have never been given an opportunity to read the classified report. >> thank you very much. >> i think you. i must admit, one of the rules of this committee is that interviews and depositions, the witness gets a copy of and is allowed to make corrections in most cases to make sure they did not misstate something. that is surprising to me. the gentle lady from california.
1:14 pm
>> mr. chairman, it's ironic that you said that since mr. thompson would not even engage with the democratic side of the aisle in terms of answering any series of questions. but let me first of all say to the family members, we lost extraordinary service to this country. you lost loved ones. and there is nothing that we can say that whatever heal your loss. i know that we will do everything in our power to make sure that other families to not go through what you are going through -- do not go through what you are going through. youricks, thank you for
1:15 pm
extraordinary service. as you were telling the events, and they were harrowing, it reminded me of an experience that i had, similar, i foreign country, ambushed, and asense that we were woefully under protected. as part of what we are going to glean from this today is that we have got to do a much better job of providing protection in high-risk embassies in council offices around the world. it was inadequate and i'm troubled by the fact that general hamm withdrew additional support, because they had been engaged in a carjacking. if anything, that would heighten our concern, and we would create more support. let me ask you a question. thesaid earlier today that
1:16 pm
lawyers at state told do not to talk to mr. chafitz when he came. would you verify that was what you said? >> we were not to be personally interviewed. >> in your interview with the committee, you were asked the question, did you receive any direction about information that congressman chafitz should not be given from washington? and your answer was,, no, i did not. is that still your testimony today? >> i don't recall that phrase. then i thought that i said, and i would have to review again, that i did receive instructions exactly as i said them, but i not know who gave them to me
1:17 pm
because i did not have access my email. >> if the gentlelady could tell us what page of the transcript that is on? >> maybe the staff can get it for me. i am reading from a separate document. you did say that you were told to make sure other state department officials were present for meetings with representatives chafitz. they told me not to be isolated with the congressman. is that correct? >> that is what i mean by not having a personal interview with the congressman. >> so it is more about not being in a situation where you did not have other people with you. is that correct -- as opposed not being interviewed? >> again, that is what i said, not to be personally interviewed by the congressman. >> well, you said they told me not to be isolated with
1:18 pm
congressman chafitz. >> 'e meing of isolated, not to be personally interviewed. classifieds a briefing for mr. chafitz that no other state department official was able to attend. you testified earlier. as a result, no other official can confirm what was said if there was a mis characterization after the fact. so when rep chafitz attended this committee's hearing, there is controversy about his description of that briefing. did you by chance watched the hearing? >> i did not. i do not think i said that no state department official was allowed in the annex briefing. in fact, i was in that briefing. david mcfarland and john martin -- >> the attorney was not. >> the attorney was excluded by the annex chief for clearance purposes. >> the gentlelady's time is expired. go ahead and ask your question
1:19 pm
quickly. >> thank you. i think you deserve to have a post in a location that you desire. so i would like to ask you would you like to be posted? >> the court of king james is out of the question. >> the country are would most like to go to -- is that the question? and be assigned to it? >> yes. >> i would like to talk to my chief decisionmaker, my family and my wife. because i think her opinion is more important than mine.
1:20 pm
>> so to conclude, mr. chair -- >> he really is a diplomat. >> most of you should be diplomats on issues like this. she said she was going to help you get a good on work assignment. and i think this committee will help you get a good onward assignment. so we await your, the responsible person for that decision in forming us. >> i thank the gentlelady. and i am shocked that mr. connally did not make that promise to a constituent who can vote. with that, we go to the representative from north
1:21 pm
carolina, mr. mchenry. >> not to bring the subject matter back to that hearing, but i'm sorry mr. hicks, the senate is in charge of those types of movements of our ambassadors in the confirmation process. but i hear there is a wide variety of islands to the south of florida that are lovely. but the subject matter of today's hearing is to get at the root cause and the root facts of an awful tragedy that occurred. the mismanagement and a political coverup that resulted from that mismanagement and a rush to judgment by some very ambitious political operatives with in washington. at least that near as i can tell, having gone into the facts as we have today and knowing what we know today. so i want to thank all three of you gentlemen for your service. and i want to say to you that the tough treatment you have gotten as a result of not only on that day in september, but since then is a horrible tragedy. i want to go back to mr. goudy's line of questions.
1:22 pm
was there protocol within the consulate in the event of a protest? >> yes, there was. >> was there any evidence when you were there in libya on that day that this was a protest? >> no, there was none. i am confident that ambassador stevens would have reported a protest immediately. the protocol was for us to evacuate immediately from the consulate in move to the annex. >> ok, was there anything in connection to youtube video, was there any awareness that the events occurred because of the youtube video? >> the youtube video was a non- event in libya. that, did you know about within a couple days or the day of?
1:23 pm
>> yes. >> and so did you report to anyone in washington with in the first couple of days that there was anything in connection, a protest in connection to a youtube video? >> no, the only report our mission made to every channel was that there had been an attack on our consulate. >> not a protest? >> no portest. -- protest. on september 16, ambassador susan rice went on to the sunday shows and recited some points. were you part of those talking points? >> no. >> so one month later, we had undersecretary kennedy -- let's play his statements. [video clip] >> always made clear from the very beginning that we are giving out the best information we had at the time we were giving it out. that information has evolved
1:24 pm
over time. for example, if any administration official, including any career official, had been on television on sunday, september 16, they would have said the same thing that ambassador rice said. she had information from the intelligence community, and that is the same information i have. and i would have made exactly the same points. clearly we know more today but we knew what we knew when we knew it. >> by september 16, did you know what you know what you know, which is apparently what susan rice said? let me refreeze that. let me make that a question -- rephrase that. ambassador rice recited a set of facts. the state department defends that a month later. you are a career official.
1:25 pm
would you have said that things that ambassador rice said? >> not after hearing what the president said, especially considering the fact he had gone to benghazi himself at great personal and political risk. for him to appear on world television and say this was a planned attack by terrorists is phenomenal. i was jumping up and down when he said that. it was a gift from a policy perspective, from my perspective. >> did that occur before september 16? >> he said that on the same talk shows with ambassador rice. >> was their knowledge that he was going to say that? >> there was not. >> mr. chairman i know we have a lot more questions about this, including what that did in country? ambassador rice's rhetoric and the impact it had in country for the work you were doing and the
1:26 pm
delay that resulted because of that, on the fbi investigation on the ground. mr. chairman, if you will indulge me and let him answer, please. >> go ahead. >> sorry. again, it took, 17, 18 days from that interview to get the benghazi. and we dealt with people at a low level and we got them to benghazi by stringing together a series of basically low level commitments to help us get them to benghazi. >> thank you. >> to the families of those who
1:27 pm
lost their lives in benghazi, you have our condolences. and i think the best tribute we can give to those who have lost their lives is that we make sure this does not happen again. this is the goal of the committee. gentlemen, thank you for being here today. mr. hicks, thank you for your extensive conversation about what happened during the confusion of the first hours. and all that happened. i can tell you about 16 years ago, i was backpacking through colombia and woke up to a machine gun fire and hand grenades. at the time we did not know what happened. we have paramilitary on the river and guerrillas behind us and we were caught in between. i can fully understand the confusion that happened at that time in your recanting that. what i can tell you is that i do not think there is a smoking gun today. there is a lukewarm slingshot. what we have is some strong opinions from people who, at least mr. nordstrom participated in the study and mr. thompson, no one stopped him. a have had a chance to take look at this. i think what is imperative is that we make sure these recommendations are done. that something concrete comes out of this, that no one else is in this situation. one of the real things we could do as individuals on this
1:28 pm
committee is to make sure that we provide adequate funding for security and training to all of our embassies. and i think, -- i am one of the new folks around here -- when i look at the past budget where we have been asked for hundreds of millions of dollars that have not been approved and a post- 9/11 world, i look at that as a rather risky. and both mr. nordstrom and mr. hicks you have extensive experience around the world. so looking at this practically, i think this is probably the night here in the house has had on this issue, so maybe it is time we start looking at how we protect our embassies the best way we can, rather than going through and rehashing the same old stories. my question for mr. hicks and mr. nordstrom, when it comes to extra security, do you feel that we need more in some of the
1:29 pm
embassies across the world to make sure that those working have the very best protections? mr. hicks? >> thank you. there are two things. i appreciate the question. need the state department more training for people that are going to this critical places, not only for diplomatic security agents but for every day diplomats. we need to be a book -- in my opening statement i talked about my experience in bahrain of developing contacts to help us get through difficult times in 2002 when our embassy was attacked twice. and we were experiencing very severe anti-american demonstrations.
1:30 pm
we have to be able to engage. our diplomats have to be on the street. one of the reasons why we were perhaps caught off guard in benghazi is because for security purposes because we had personnel there, the consulate was basically on lock down. and so it was very difficult for our principal officer to get out and mingle with the people and learn what was going on. this was magnified when i talked with a correspondent after the event who had been in benghazi after 9/11. and the correspondent told me that the people of benghazi terrified by these islamic extremist militias. we did not have that sense prior to 9/11. and the only way we could have that sense was if we are out on
1:31 pm
the street. i think under secretary of for public diplomacy said it beautifully, at the tribute last week, when she quoted edward r. murrow about going the last 3 feet. that is what we as diplomats do. if we are born to be going outside the embassy to meet with people, we have to have the training to be able to respond rapidly and effectively to a desperate situation. so that is one thing. the other thing i believe we need to do -- and i put this forth as part of my platform in running for office in my speech to the foreign service -- we need to develop a robust paradigm for analyzing and mitigating risk. and one that is comprehensible to every member of the emergency action committee. and this would be a powerful tool for our regional security officers to be able to develop
1:32 pm
the kinds of programs and the kinds of activities that we need to mitigate risks that they identify through the use of this paradigm. >> thank you. we now go to the gentleman from michigan. >> thank you for holding this hearing. and i, too, agree that this ought to continue with other hearings. it was shocking to your statement about this is rehashing the same old stories. these are not old stories. these are not the same old stories. this is a situation that is atrocious in that it happened. it is about time we heard the stories for the first time we are hearing today. and i thank the witnesses for being here. and i appreciate your valor, appreciate the families and their sacrifice. mr. thompson, on several occasions already it has been insinuated that not only did you not ask to be interviewed by
1:33 pm
a.r.b., but that you refused. you indicated on a couple of occasions, you asked to be involved. let me give you further opportunity and ask you why you concerned about the a.r.b.'s failure to interview did you raise concerns with the department about the review board's unwillingness to interview you? >> the reason i was concerned about it was that it was a terrorist event. while we concerned about the arb's failure to interview you? did you raise concerns with the department about the review boards unwillingness? what's the reason i was concerned about it was that it
1:34 pm
was a terrorist event and we did not respond to a terrorist event with the team. situation which we responded to and collaborated with our fbi colleagues. we have to get assistance. we had to set up a new and busy. we had one that was destroyed. we had to set up the communications for the ambassador. it was a fairly comprehensive response. such was not the case in tripoli with mr. hicks, however we had a need to get people pushed forward early and even if they did not end up in tripoli, they would be closer.
1:35 pm
whether we would've landed in frankfurt or creed or somewhere in the area, those are the things i would've brought out beene board had i interviewed. >> any of those findings included in the arb reports? >> not to my knowledge but i've not seen a classified version. they may be in there. >> mr. hicks, and little deference to my colleague from ohio, on top of your extinct records of achievement and activates, year degrees from university of michigan are your best. i appreciate that. do you know if anyone interviewed by the a.r.b. was provided an opportunity to read the full classified report? >> i talked to several witnesses who were interviewed by the arb
1:36 pm
and none of them have been allowed to read the classified report. >> none that were interviewed as far as you know have read the classified report? you mentioned there was a 2:00 a.m. phone call with the secretary of state. during that short phone call, was there any mention of a demonstration during that conversation? >> no. >> it would be interesting to know if that was included in the report. but you have not read it. in fact, it was not. do you think the a.r.b. report lets any individual or bureaucracy off the hook? >> as i mentioned earlier, given the decision-making that the undersecretary was making with respect to the embassy and operations, he would have to bear some responsibility.
1:37 pm
>> what in your view were the shortcomings of the arb process? asides -- besides not interviewing some people and allowing the classified report to be read? >> there was no stenographer in the room when we were interviewed. >> so we are talking about editorial commentary potential as opposed to clear truth, accuracy? >> that's correct. there were notetakers. i had counsel in the room with me taking notes but other witnesses did not have counsel. or may not have had counsel. >> i don't --[indiscernible] as congress created the arb in 1986 so we have the ability to professionalize it by congressional action. perhaps that will be something we will recommend. we now go to the gentlelday from illinois.
1:38 pm
>> thank you, mr. chairman. gentlemen, thank you for your bravery being here today and for your service to our nation. i believe the best way to honor the sacrifice of ambassador stevens and three other americans who gave their lives in the line of duty is to put aside politics and take a hard look at the facts -- what went wrong. and what we need to do as we move forward to make sure this never happens again. i showed -- i share the frustration many colleagues have expressed about the fact that we do not have the opportunity to properly prepare for your testimony today or to participate in a bipartisan
1:39 pm
investigation. i want to look at what we can do to strengthen our missions, particularly in parts of the world where we cannot rely on host governments to provide adequate security. as you mentioned, this includes better security measures and more u.s. security personnel. mr. hicks, you have said that regarding the arb's recommendation, you thought it was incomplete and it was unbalanced in favor of building more higher walls and that it recommended the state department had more and better training. could you elaborate further on what you believe needs to be done with improvements in training? >> again, the point i made is that those of us whose job is to engage the local population to represent america, to local population, we have to be able to go outside. we have to meet them in their own places, especially in a part of the world where is a major part of
1:40 pm
the culture. and where also the demonstration of personal courage is an important part of the culture. so that means we have to as individuals, those of us who go outside, have to be able to be cognizant of the situations we are going to. we have to be situationally aware in order to recognize in advance that we may be getting into a difficult situation. respondto be able to appropriately. if we are put in a situation of extremist, way have -- we have to have the ability to be able to protect ourselves.
1:41 pm
>> thank you. mr. nordstrom, i know you do not have a chance to answer my colleagues question. what is your opinion? i want to make sure we get the lesson learned from this. is there a balance that could be struck between focusing on improvements to physical security and also focusing on improvements to training? do you have any specific recommendations? >> my concern is that in the
1:42 pm
wake of attack, we will go to the same psycho we have gone through all the time. more money is not always the solution. more is not always so -- always the solution. better is the solution. during the process somebody asked me as part of the arb why i do not request machine guns. 50 caliber machine guns for the consulate and benghazi. i was awe struck. if we have to have machine gun mass at a diplomatic institution, is the larger question what are we doing? why do we have staff there? one of the recommendations i looked at -- it is decision- making processes. that does not cost money. one of the things we saw again -- ds, elevated high enough, whereby recommendations within that organization are heard by the secretary of state. he has a reasonable assertion that some of these -- she had a reasonable assertion that some of these issues were brought to her attention. it is not lost on me the as the unheated messenger this time around, i look at where those messages gamestop.
1:43 pm
the undersecretary for management. i look back and i see the last time we had a major attack was eased africa. mr. thompson talked about it. who was in that same position? when the unheated messengers of the ambassador in nairobi and the ros in nairobi were a raising those concerns. the undersecretary for management was in that same role before. if anybody should understand this, i would hope that he would. that is why i'm going to the point of there is something inherently wrong with the process of how those security recommendations are raised to the secretary. >> you have given us a great way forward. thank you. >> we now go to the gentleman from michigan three >> thank you mr. chairman and the witnesses for testifying today. mr. hicks, go blue. you testified that you have not read the final classified arb
1:44 pm
report. if you have not been allowed to read the report, how do know know whether your testimony was used appropriately? >> i have no idea. >> were they allowed to read the final classified arb report to find out what -- to examine the evidence used against them. >> to individuals to live they were not allowed to read the classified report. >> if you believe the arb report is enough to ensure that a similar tragedy does not take place in the future question mark -- in the future? as i have not read the complete reports like cannot make a judgment at this time. i had a two-hour conversation with the board. but i will yield some time to the gentleman from utah. >> mr. hicks, do we typically need
1:45 pm
permission of a host nation government is by military aircraft over the territory? >> yes, we do. >> to your knowledge, did we ever asked the libyans for permission to fly over their country? what's frequently. >> but did we the night of the attack? did we seek permission from the libyan government to do a flyover? >> i think there was a uav flying over libya that night and it had permission to be there. >> did we ever ask for permission to fly anything other than an unarmed drone over during the attack? >> no. >> would you have known that? >> yes. >> based in your experience, do you believe the libyans would have granted overflight rights if we requested it? >> i believe they would have.
1:46 pm
>> mr. nordstrom, do you believe that would also be true? >> i think certainly in this situation. but mr. chairman, one of the unanswered questions is if it's a possibility, if there is a chance we can get military flight there, then we would have mission and advance. -- we would have permission in advance. my concern is there was never an attempt to get these military aircraft over there. one of the hard questions we have to ask is not only about the tankers but -- it is stunning that our government
1:47 pm
could not get a tanker in the air. when did you think this was actually over? >> not until our personnel landed in tripoli. >> even then, we were -- ansar al-sharia posted --there was a reason why he had to leave the facility. would you return to the embassy in tripoli? but i believe on the 14th. helpen did the arrived to secure the embassy? >> they arrived on the night of september 12. >> there still was a potential slot. in the government never asked for permission. his is one of the deep concerns. -- and the government never asked for permission. this is one of the deep concerns. i want to ask mr. thompson. another excerpt of an e-mail sent by you to timothy walsh and james wester on wednesday, september 12.
1:48 pm
"spoke to db on the phone this morning. he understands my point. concurrence but -- concurs but expresses his pessimism and does not lobby for our conclusion. didn't daniel benjamin recently state that it was untrue? >> correct. but how do you react to that question rocky publicly says it's not true but based on the e-mail, cell like you had a discussion with him. thathappened in discussion? >> he was on the phone from germany. another member of the front office have been talking to him.
1:49 pm
she asked if he wanted to talk to me. i gave him a quick rundown of what happened the night before. i kept him informed the a blackberry -- via blackberry about the concerns and lome finally understood how many people have been murdered that night, he was shocked and appalled. he wanted to know if there was anything he could do. dismissal about the and how it was dismissed in terms of getting our people out of town. it's more than process and some of the other things that have been stated. my biography is in the record. we live by code. that code says says you go after
1:50 pm
people when they are in peril, when they are in service of their country. we did not have the benefit of hindsight in the early hours. those people who are in peril in the future need to know that we will go get them and we will do everything we can to get them out of harms way. that night unfolded in ways no one could have predicted when it first started. it is my strong belief then as it is now that we needed to demonstrate that resolve, even if we still have the same outcome. >> i just wanted to reiterate your point to me that rather than speculative but mr. benjamin and mr. kennedy and others may think -- >> all time is expired. we now go to the gentlelday
1:51 pm
from illinois. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i too would like to thank you for your service and patience and endurance. my condolences to the families. mr. hicks, i would like to ask about your testimony involving the flight from tripoli to benghazi. he explained that the first plane from tripoli to benghazi left on the night of the attack around 1:15 a.m. >> it arrived in benghazi around 1:15. the arb report said the first plane had a seven person security team which included two military personnel. is that correct? >> yes, it did. >> his second flight left tripoli the next morning between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m. prospective the fight left a little later but the timelines
1:52 pm
have still not emerged. >> you said for military personnel were told not to board the plane and that the call from -- came from special operations. >> that is what i understand. >> you asked -- you were asked if you knew the rationale. they do not have the right authority for the right level. is that correct? but i think that's correct. >> and you basically don't know why they were told not to get on the plane. >> i have no idea why they were told not to get on the airplane. >> this morning the department of defense released a press release. if i completed -- the team leader called special opera -- special operations. he reported his intention to move his team to benghazi. as the mission at that point had shifted to evacuation, the special operations command africa operations center directed him to continue
1:53 pm
providing support to the in tripoli. begin to believe there was nothing this group could have done had they arrived in benghazi -- we continue to believe there was nothing this group could have done had they arrived in benghazi. i will like to yield the rest of my time. >> does the gentlelday want to in the record? >> yes. >> without objection. >> mr. hicks, you quoted that she said emphatically that the video had no material impact on libya. you talked several times about conversations with the prime minister who referred to it as a terrorist act, not as a protest. >> that was the president. >> the libyan government is somewhat in -- [indiscernible] on september 12, the deputy minister said his initial instinct was to avoid -- and risk confrontation people angry about the video in libya.
1:54 pm
he also criticized the americans for failing to heed libyan governance advice to pull personnel or beef up security in light of recent violence. that same article interviewed people engaged in the assault on benghazi who cited the 14 minute video. the word disparate voices. some insight into the video at the time -- some in fact did see the video at the time. toon't want the public believe there was one narrative. do you care to comment?
1:55 pm
>> our assessment in the embassy was that the video was not an instigator of anything going on in libya. i understand that these people were quoted. on september 20, the prime minister raised nvidia -- raised a video in front of the press. the son of demonstrations related to video anywhere in libya. -- we saw no demonstrations related to the video anywhere in libya. >> thank you very much. i would like to enter record full new york times article. >> i think under the
1:56 pm
circumstances it would be appropriate to put on the record that it was an unreasonable risk and should have been closed down in light of the danger. i think that's a good balance. i think the chairman for that unanimous consent request that, because the gentleman from arizona. >> for the families, taking fear heroism that your sons exhibited. thank you for your bravery, particularly in light of how we treated weasel -- whistleblowers today and in the past. mr. hicks, did you ever question officials in washington about what secretary rice said on sunday talk shows? rocks --
1:57 pm
>> the assistant secretary jones call me after the talkshow event. in my she said it was a demonstration when we reported there was an attack -- and why she said there was a demonstration when we reported there was an attack. >> her reaction was? >> her reaction was i don't know. she was very curt? >> yes. tor the next month, i began receive counseling from assistant secretary jones but my management style, things that i basically was already doing on the ground but nevertheless i implemented everything she asked me to do. >> can i have the video to be played on the screen? [video]
1:58 pm
>> we had four dead americans. was it because of a protest or because of guys out for a walk who decided they would kill some americans. what difference at this point does it make? it is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again. >> i am really mad but mr. hicks, could i give you the opportunity to respond to that question --what difference does it make? >> i think the question is what difference did it make. the president of libya was insulted in front of his own people, and front of the world. his credibility was reduced. his ability to lead his own country was damaged. he was angry. a friend of mine who had dinner with him in new york during the un season told me that he was still steamed about the talk shows two weeks later. i definitely believe it negatively affected our ability
1:59 pm
to get the fbi team quickly to benghazi three >> when you talk to the libyan government, were they responsive new asked about axles for the fbi? >> it was a long 17 days to get the f b i came to benghazi working with very as ministries to get agreement to support the visit. the we accomplish that mission -- but we accomplished that mission. at the highest levels of the government, there was never really a positive approval.
2:00 pm
>> a spontaneous reaction to a video [indiscernible] how long was it before the fbi was allowed access into benghazi to examine the crime scene? >> 17 days. >> was the crime scene secured during that time? >> no, it was not. we repeatedly asked the libyan government to secure the crime scene, but they were in a bill to do so -- but they were unable to do so. >> the fbi was sitting in aaa-- tripoli for weeks waiting for the approval of the libyan government to travel to benghazi. -- in tripoli for weeks waiting for the approval of the libyan government to travel to benghazi. they were denied access into benghazi, right? >> correct.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on