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Benghazi Spotlight

This is a big week for those of us who have been searching for answers as to what really happened in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. Furthermore, we want to know what happened leading up to the attack in the hopes that we can learn something from our failures to properly secure our diplomats and our property. We also want to know what happened in the aftermath of Benghazi; The administration's lack of forthcoming answers has led many to believe that there was a deliberate cover-up of the truth. If there was a cover-up, for what purpose? Was it to advance the Obama administrations' narrative that we no longer face a threat from radical Islam and that Islamic terrorism is on the decline? Was it to protect Hillary Clinton from criticism that her department or she herself didn't do enough to protect our diplomats, even after repeated requests for more security?

I know I'm not the only one with all of these questions. This is why this Wednesday there will be a hearing in the House Oversight Committee. Finally after eight months, we will hear from people within our own government who have been unable to speak publicly on the issue until now. These people are:

- Greg Hicks, former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya

- Eric Nordstrom, a diplomatic security officer who was the regional security officer in Libya

- Mark I. Thompson, a former Marine and now the deputy coordinator for operations in the State Department’s counterterrorism bureau

Over the weekend, Chairman Darrell Issa talked with CBS' Bob Schieffer and revealed some of the information we can expect to learn in the hearing this Wednesday. Much of the explosive information comes from Greg Hicks, who was the second ranking diplomat in Libya at the time of the attack and perhaps the last person to speak to Ambassador Chris Stevens. Here are a few points from Hicks as revealed by Issa:

- Hick says, "I thought it was a terrorist attack from the get-go.” He also says, "I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning."

- According to Hicks, Chris Stevens' final report was “Greg, we are under attack.”

- Hicks never reported any kind of demonstration outside the mission in Benghazi: "I never reported a demonstration; I reported an attack on the consulate.” He says that "for there to have been a demonstration on Chris Stevens' front door and him not to have reported it is unbelievable.”

  1. He described Rice's blame on a YouTube video as “jaw-dropping.”

- He also points out the “immeasurable” impact of Susan Rice directly contradicting Libyan President Mohammed Magariaf, who said that same Sunday that "this was an attack by Islamic extremists, possibly with terrorist links," and that his government had "no doubt that this was preplanned, predetermined." Hick says that Rice violated "a cardinal rule of diplomacy … and that rule is, never inadvertently insult your interlocutor.” Hicks says, “Magariaf has just lost face in front of not only his own people but the world. And, you know, my jaw hit the floor as I watched this … I have been a professional diplomat for 22 years. I have never been as embarrassed in my life, in my career, as on that day."

- Hicks also believes that this direct contraction between Susan Rice and Libyan President Mohammed Magariaf played a role in delaying the FBI's ability to get to Benghazi and get some answers.

CNN has also learned that Greg Hicks believes the State Department's internal review (which is now being reviewed) “let people off the hook.”

Over the weekend, Democrat Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts told Fox News Sunday that the Benghazi talking points were scrubbed: “It was scrubbed, it was totally inaccurate, there’s no excuse for that.” That leads to two big questions: Who changed the talking points and why?

The Weekly Standard released copies of the various stages of the talking points. The information cited by the Weekly Standard was based off of a 43-page House report and official email records. According to the Weekly Standard, the process to change the talking points “involved senior officials from the State Department, the National Security Council, the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the White House.” The Weekly Standard describes their findings as “fresh evidence .. that senior Obama administration officials knowingly misled the country about what had happened in the days following the assaults.” The final talking points are “scrubbed” of any mention of al Qaeda's known involvement.

Fox News has also learned the following about the Benghazi attack: “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.” That whistle-blower is Mark. I. Thompson and he is quoted as saying, “You should have seen what (Clinton) tried to do to us that night.” A separate official has voiced a similar complaint about Hillary Clinton and Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy. But as Joel Pollak at Breitbart points out, “Democrats have a clear agenda: protect Hillary Clinton at all costs.”