Questions to Watch for at Thursday’s Benghazi Hearing
October 26, 2015
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to testify on Thursday before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Despite her new attitude of defiance—acting as if recent statements by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) have somehow proven that this has been a political witch-hunt all along—it proves nothing of the sort. I spoke about this last night on The Blaze, with Dana Loesch.
Last Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chairman of the committee, made clear that the committee will be looking at several aspects of the Benghazi scandals:
“Thursday is about the three tranches of Benghazi: what happened before, during and after. And, frankly, in Secretary Clinton's defense, she's going to have lot more information about the before than she is the during and the after.”
While the failure to either provide sufficient security for Ambassador Chris Stevens, or to remove him before the attacks occurred on September 11, 2012, is an important issue, it is certainly not the only one that Mrs. Clinton must answer for. So it’s important that Gowdy is planning to focus on all three periods.
Two new articles out in the last day present powerful arguments and lines of questioning that should be pursued. One is from The Washington Times, which lays out new evidence showing how the U.S. facilitated the flow of arms to militia groups in Libya, many of which went to al-Qaeda linked groups. This violated both American law and a U.N. resolution.
The other article is by Nancy Youssef in The Daily Beast, where she questions the wisdom, motives and strategy that led the U.S. and NATO into the war in Libya in the first place. She points out that while President Obama may have been reluctant at first, with no stated plans to remove Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, that is exactly what happened, with no plans in place for what would come after Qaddafi. And what has followed is a failed state.
Both of these points were made in the Interim Report by our Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi (CCB) a year and a half ago, and received little attention at the time. But we are glad to see that even the liberal Daily Beast makes the case that this war was waged under false pretenses, with disastrous results, including the death of four Americans in Benghazi.
Many in the media keep asking, what more is there to learn. We at the CCB have compiled a list of questions that we hope are asked during Thursday’s High Noon showdown between Mrs. Clinton and the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Using Rep. Gowdy’s breakdown of the three tranches, this is a good start:
When, how and why did the Obama administration and the State Department decide to back the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime?
Why did you refuse Saif Qaddafi’s phone call about the willingness of his father to negotiate a truce rather than subject his country and himself to the impending attack by NATO forces?
When and how was the decision made that the administration officially would facilitate the delivery of weapons to known Libyan al-Qaeda militias like the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG)?
Did you and the Obama administration believe that the Presidential Intelligence Finding of March 2011 was legally sufficient to overcome the otherwise felonious provision by the U.S. government of material support to terrorism? Which legal authorities by name provided this advice to you?
Exactly when and specifically which Congressional members were briefed on the administration’s decision to overthrow Qaddafi, back the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood-led rebels, and facilitate the delivery of weapons to Libyan al-Qaeda-linked militias?
Why did approximately half of your emails on Libya, that the committee has only recently received, come from Sidney Blumenthal, who President Obama had forbidden you to hire at the State Department?
Why did we maintain the Special Mission Compound in Benghazi when others, such as the British and the Red Cross had pulled out because of the security situation?
Why did you ignore an internal State Department audit on the compound when it first opened which concluded that they should either beef up the security or close it?
Please name and identify by affiliation the top Libyan rebel commanders with whom Christopher Stevens, the official U.S. government envoy to those rebels, collaborated during the 2011 Libyan revolution and explain how these commanders were selected.
Please describe in detail the weapons procurement and delivery process by which arms were acquired, funded, transported and distributed to the Libyan rebels in 2011.
Please describe in detail the weapons buy-back and collection program in Libya in 2012, including which U.S. agency had the lead for that program, how funds were disbursed for such weapons, where and how they were stored, their transport on exactly which/whose ships, and where those ships and their weapons cargo went after they departed from Libya.
By allowing the flow of arms to groups in Libya that we knew were affiliated with al Qaeda, weren’t we in effect switching sides in the War on Terror?
Were you personally aware of multiple warnings that indicated an Islamic terror attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was likely or in potential planning stages?
Why were all of Stevens’ requests for increased security turned down and in-country security forces drawn down?
Did you see, or were you made aware of the Ayman al-Zawahiri video-taped warning, issued on jihadi websites on 10 September 2012, that apparently gave the green light for the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi? If so, when? If not, why not?
What action did you take when you received word of a 10 day advanced notice that an attack on our facilities in Benghazi was going to take place?
What additional security measures did you as Secretary of State order for missions across North Africa and/or elsewhere once the American Embassy in Cairo warned that Muslim anger was building over the airing on Egyptian TV on 9 September 2012 of a clip from the YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims?”
Why was an order given to Ambassador Stevens’ Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) personnel to store their weapons in a separate location in the compound?
What about your 10 p.m. phone call with President Obama on the night of the attack? Why did the State Department proceed to issue a statement shortly thereafter citing the video as the likely cause of the attack?
Who was responsible for making sure the car was parked outside the safe room window as a key part of the escape plan for the ambassador?
Why were the Marine Fast teams at Rota held up and made to put on civilian clothes?
What classified equipment and material were taken from the compound?
Please describe in chronological detail where you were, Secretary Clinton, throughout the night of 11-12 September 2012.
Exactly when and by what process did you, Secretary Clinton, receive command authority over U.S. military units that might have responded to the Benghazi mission attack during the night of 11-12 September 2012?
Who made the decision that no U.S. government military response would be ordered to come to the rescue of the Americans under terrorist assault the night of 11-12 September 2012 in Benghazi?
Were any military assets ordered to turn back or stand down the night of 11-12 September 2012 rather than continue to the rescue of Americans in Benghazi?
If so, which were they, by whom and for what reason?
Was there a plan for Ambassador Stevens to be kidnapped and later exchanged for the Blind Sheik, who is in prison in the U.S. for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing?
Please describe the consultative process by which you, Secretary Clinton, the President, and anyone else involved decided to blame the Benghazi terror attacks on the YouTube video, “Innocence of Muslims?” Please describe those orders in detail.
Why did you choose this narrative to disseminate to the American public—and the world—when you knew within 15 minutes of the beginning of the Benghazi attack that the perpetrators were Islamic terrorists?
Why did you send then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice out that weekend to talk about Benghazi on the Sunday talk shows, when it should have been you?
Who gave the orders to Rashad Hussain, envoy to the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), and to Huma Abedin, to coordinate (respectively) with international and domestic Muslims the narrative about the YouTube video being the cause of the Benghazi terror attacks?
Why did you tell the parents of the dead in Benghazi that you would get the man who made the video, as if you believed that was the cause of the attack on the compound?
How was it determined that you wouldn’t testify to the State Department appointed Accountability Review Board?
Why did your aide Cheryl Mills tell Deputy Ambassador to Libya Greg Hicks not to talk to Republican congressmen who came to Libya to investigate what had happened?
Editor's Note: Though the testimony occurred before this publication, the editor still found the content pertinent to the issue at hand.