Still left unexplained: Where was Obama the night of September 11? And why is nobody asking that question?
On the night of Sept. 11, as the Obama administration scrambled to respond to the Benghazi terror attacks, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a key aide effectively tried to cut the department’s own counterterrorism bureau out of the chain of reporting and decision-making, according to a “whistle-blower” witness from that bureau who will soon testify to the charge before Congress, Fox News has learned.
That witness is Mark I. Thompson, a former Marine and now the deputy coordinator for operations in the agency’s counterterrorism bureau. Sources tell Fox News Thompson will level the allegation against Clinton during testimony on Wednesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
Fox News has also learned that another official from the counterterrorism bureau — independently of Thompson — voiced the same complaint about Clinton and Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy to trusted national security colleagues back in October.
Extremists linked to Al Qaeda stormed the American consulate and a nearby annex on Sept. 11, in a heavily armed and well-coordinated eight-hour assault that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans.
Thompson considers himself a whistle-blower whose account was suppressed by the official investigative panel that Clinton convened to review the episode, the Accountability Review Board (ARB). Thompson’s lawyer, Joseph diGenova, a former U.S. attorney, has further alleged that his client has been subjected to threats and intimidation by as-yet-unnamed superiors at State, in advance of his cooperation with Congress.
Sources close to the congressional investigation who have been briefed on what Thompson will testify tell Fox News the veteran counterterrorism official concluded on Sept. 11 that Clinton and Kennedy tried to cut the counterterrorism bureau out of the loop as they and other Obama administration officials weighed how to respond to — and characterize — the Benghazi attacks.
“You should have seen what (Clinton) tried to do to us that night,” the second official in State’s counterterrorism bureau told colleagues back in October. Those comments would appear to be corroborated by Thompson’s forthcoming testimony.
Removed from the CIA’s so-called talking points were references to “Islamic extremists” and Al Qaeda in Libya. And five days later, Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, made the Sunday talk show rounds to say the attacks were “demonstrations” sparked by protests in Egypt over an anti-Islamic video on YouTube.
However, the video is never mentioned in the numerous talking-points drafts, according to a Weekly Standard story last week, based in part on a 43-page House report and records of official emails.
“Well, it was scrubbed,” Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Steve Lynch told “Fox News Sunday.” “It was totally inaccurate. There’s no excuse for that. It was false information. And what they try to do is harmonize what happened in Benghazi with what happened everywhere else across the Middle East.”
Lynch also acknowledged the talking points were likely revised to reflect President Obama’s decry – with his re-election bid in the balance — that “Al Qaeda is on the run.”
Maryland Democratic Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, also acknowledged Sunday the facts as told by Rice were wrong.
“I thought it was a terrorist attack from the get go,” says Greg Hicks, a 22-year foreign service diplomat who was the number two U.S. official in Libya at the time of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks. “I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning.”