Clinton Has Talked to Only 1 American Benghazi Survivor in 4 Months; Talked to None in Wake of Attack

January 23, 2013 - 6:50 PM

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNSNews.com) - In the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, five State Department Diplomatic Security agents who were in Benghazi that day and survived the attack were evacuated from the country and taken to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.

All five had suffered from smoke inhalation, and one was seriously wounded.

Under questioning from Sen. Ron Johnson (R.-Wis.) in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revealed that she has spoken to only one of the American survivors who was evacuated from Libya after the Benghazi attack. Presumably, this was one of the five Diplomatic Security officers who fought off the terrorists at the State Department's Benghazi Special Mission Compound on Sept. 11 and who lived to be able to report as eyewitnesses about what had happened there that day.

The Obama administration has not yet publicly named a single one of these five surviving State Department heroes.

In fact, the only American witnesses to the Benghazi attack who have been named by the Obama administration are the four whom the terrorists killed--Amb. Chris Stevens, State Department Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, who were working for the CIA, not for Clinton's State Department.

Clinton also claimed in her exchange with Sen. Johnson that it would have been inappropriate for her to talk to the the surviving State Department officials--who worked for her, and who had been deployed to Benghazi under her authority--until they had been interrogated by the FBI.

Because Clinton testified that she has only talked to one of the survivors, she could not possibly have even personally thanked--let alone heard the eyewitness accounts of--four of the five Diplomatic Security officers who put their lives on the line to protect Amb. Stevens and the U.S. facility in Benghazi.

She did not reach out to them in the hours or days after the attack to get their personal accounts of what had happened--information that clearly would have been valuable to her and her subordinates as they explained to the nation what actually happened that day.

As it was, rather than getting the eyewitness accounts of the State Department's own people there--accounts that would attest to the fact that the terrorist attack was a sudden assault on the State Department compound and was not in any way preceded by a protest--Clinton and her department for days put out the false story that the attack had arisen from a protest against an anti-Muslim video.

On Wednesday, Clinton told Sen. Johnson that there were approximately 25-30 survivors evacuated from Libya after the attack, but does not know precisely how many “because of our other friends”--a reference to the CIA.

Most of the U.S. personnel in Benghazi that day apparently worked for the CIA. Other than the five State Department Diplomatic Security agents who were at the State Department's Special Mission Compound at the time of the attack and survived, the only other State Department personnel in the city were Amb. Stevens and Information Management Officer Smith, who were both killed.

“Did you personally speak to those folks?” Sen. Johnson asked Clinton of the American survivors of the attack.

“I have spoken to one of them,” said Clinton, “but I waited until the ARB [Accountability Review Board] had done its investigation because I did not want there to be anybody raising an issue that I had spoken to anyone before the ARB had conducted its investigation.”

The ARB report was published more than a month ago on Dec. 18.

Later, when Sen. Johnson pressed Clinton on why U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice had said on national television five days after the attack that the attack had arisen from a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video, Clinton said that "we" did not believe it was appropriate to talk to the survivors of Benghazi until after the FBI had.

“As I said, I still have a DS agent at Walter Reed seriously injured,” said Clinton. “Getting them into Frankfurt Ramstein to get taken care of, the FBI going over to immediately start talking to them—We did not think it was appropriate for us to talk to them before the FBI conducted their interviews.”

The ARB later reported that one of the State Department security officers at the Benghazi mission, watching a video monitor, saw the attack begin at about 3:42 p.m. Washington, D.C., time on Sept. 11, when dozens of armed terrorists swarmed through the main gain of the compound. He immediately sounded an alarm in the compound. He then used a cell phone to notify the CIA Annex down the road and the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli. The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli then immediately notified State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“I was notified of the attack shortly after 4:00 p.m.,” Secretary Clinton testified on Wednesday.

Later that night, before 11:00 p.m. Washington time on Sept. 11, Clinton issued a statement linking the still-ongoing Benghazi attack to “inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”

The Associated Press published a report quoting Clinton's statement even before former Navy SEALS Woods and Doherty were killed by a terrorist mortar strike on the CIA Annex in Benghazi. Earlier that evening, CIA security personnel from that Annex had gone to the rescue of the State Department personnel at the Special Mission Compound, and helped get the five surviving State Department security officers out.

Clinton's testimony today indicates that she has never talked to at least four of the five State Department security people who bravely defended the department's mission in Benghazi and survived the attack—and that she claims she did not speak to them earlier in deference to an FBI investigation.

She did not explain why she believed her contact with her own State Department employees could in anyway taint or disrupt an FBI investigation that is reportedly aimed at discovering the identity of the terrorists who attacked the U.S. facilities in Benghazi.

Would Clinton have talked to Amb. Stevens or Sean Smith had they survived the attack? Or would she have waited to speak to them, too, until after the FBI had interviewed them? No one asked Secretary Clinton those questions in the congressional hearings on Wednesday.