On Sunday’s broadcast of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa gave host Bob Schieffer a look at what he had uncovered concerning the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last September.
In the days following the attack, the Obama administration insisted it was a protest that led to the murder of then-U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens. But according to testimony brought to the set by Issa, the administration appeared to know almost immediately that the consulate had been attacked by terrorists.
“’I thought it was a terrorist attack from the get-go,’” Schieffer said, reading the testimony of Gregory Hicks, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Libya. “’I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning.’”
“‘[F]or there to have been a demonstration on Chris Stevens’s front door and him not to have reported it is unbelievable,’” Schieffer, reading Hicks’ testimony, continued.
Issa then explained that he has not found a classified or diplomatic reason for why the Obama administration might have said it was a demonstration. But he also added that Susan Rice’s remarks immediately following the incident in Benghazi, in which she characterized the attack as a popular protest, were an embarrassment to Libyan President Mohammed al-Magariaf.
“You can’t insult a foreign leader in a greater way than happened literally here, just those few days later,” Issa said.
Schieffer then mentioned two interviews from September 2012. One was an interview from Rice, during her infamous post-attack tour of the Sunday shows, in which she denied knowledge of Benghazi being the target of a pre-planned attack. The other was with al-Magariaf, the Libyan president, suggesting the opposite of what Rice said. Those remarks had drawn Hicks’ ire when he met with Issa’s investigators.
“’The net impact of what has transpired is, the spokesperson of the most powerful country in the world, has basically said that the president of Libya is either a liar of doesn’t know what he’s talking about,’” Schieffer continued, reading more of Hicks’ testimony. “’The impact of that is immeasurable. Magariaf has just lost face in front of not only his own people but the world. My jaw hit the floor as I watched this. I’ve never been as embarrassed in my life, in my career, as on that day. I never reported a demonstration. I reported an attack on the consulate. Chris’ last report, if you want to say his final report, is ‘Greg we are under attack.’ It is jaw-dropping that to me how that came to be.’”
“Clearly there was a political decision to say something different than what was reasonable to say,” Issa responded to Schieffer’s reading of those remarks. “And I think Bob, one of the tragedies of this is it took three weeks to get our FBI in. When you tell the president of Libya, who by the way went to Benghazi at personal risk — did that broadcast from Benghazi as a courageous act — if you tell him he’s wrong, that it’s not terrorism, what a surprise you have a hard time getting FBI to the crime scene. If anything, we may have compromised our ability to know what really happened there as far as catching the culprits because more weeks went by with no FBI on the ground.”