Gowdy and Chaffetz: 'We Need to Have More Hearings'

By Susan Jones | May 9, 2013 | 8:45 AM EDT

Witnesses, from left to right: Mark Thompson, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism; Gregory Hicks, Foreign Service Officer and former Deputy Chief of Mission; Eric Nordstrom, Diplomatic Security Officer and former Regional Security Officer in Libya; testify at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Wednesday, May 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) says anyone listening to Wednesday's congressional testimony on the terror attack in Benghazi would conclude "that there was a concerted effort shortly after Benghazi to protect the president's re-election bid, and right now there's a concerted effort to insulate and protect Secretary Clinton."

Gowdy said Congress, "for once" did its oversight job by holding the hearing, at which three State Department whistleblowers testified.

"There's no statute of limitations when it comes to the truth, and the least we can do for our four murdered fellow Americans who were serving in our stead, under our flag, is to find out exactly what happened. And we took a big step today. But, Sean, today is just one step," Gowdy told Sean Hannity on Fox News.

"We need to have more hearings with more firsthand eyewitness accounts," Gowdy added.

Some of the people named by the three witnesses at Wednesday's hearing -- including Regional Security Officer in Libya John Martinec -- have not come forward with their version of events.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), said he was particularly dismayed to learn that "we had four Special Forces there on the ground in Libya ready to risk their lives. They wanted to get in the fight. Their fellow Americans were under attack (at the CIA annex in Benghazi). They were being killed. And these brave people had their guns, they were ready to go, they were getting in the convoy, and then word came down and said you had to stand down.

"That's not the American way. That's not the American military I know. But we've got to find out who made that order," Chaffetz said.

"We were told by the president, we've been told by everybody, that they did everything they could to save those people, but we heard testimony today from the chief of missions (Gregory Hicks) that they were told to stand down. And that is just -- that is not going to stand. We have got to get to the truth."

President OBama was briefed by then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about the attack on the U.S mission in Benghazi in the late afternoon of Sept. 11, 2012, about an hour the attack happened but hours before the CIA annex was attacked.

Gowdy noted that nothing at Wednesday's hearing indicated "what the president was doing while this seven-hour long siege took place. So, I want to be fair to him, but the simple fact is I, even after eight months, cannot tell you what the commander-in-chief was doing when our people under our flag were being murdered and under assault on a foreign land. It is sad that a member of Congress after eight months can't answer your question," he told Hannity.

Chaffetz, who went to Tripoli three weeks after the attack in Benghazi, said he met there with Hicks, who testified on Wednesday that he was advised ahead of Chaffetz' visit not to cooperate with the congressman:

Hicks told Congress he was "instructed" by State Department attorneys "not to allow" the Regional Security Officer in Libya, the acting deputy chief of mission, or himself to be personally interviewed by Rep. Chaffetz.

"So the people at state told you, 'Don’t talk to the guy who is coming to investigate?'" Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) asked Hicks.

"Yes sir," Hicks replied, adding that such a thing had "never" happened before.

Hicks also explained how Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton's chief of staff at the time, called Hicks and "demanded a report" on Chaffetz' visit. "She was upset," Hicks said, because a State Department minder -- lacking the proper security clearance -- had been excluded from Hicks's meeting with Chaffetz.

Speaking to Hannity Wednesday night, Chaffetz called it a "stunning" revelation: "I mean, the idea that a member of Congress trying to seek out the truth, and they are being told not to allow that member of Congress to have an individual conversation, I mean that's pretty stunning."

Asked if they see any "obstruction issues" or "potential criminal issues" arising from the testimony, Gowdy said it's too early to say. 

"And again, it's embarrassing to say that after eight months, but we are still going through documents. We are still gaining access to documents. It's too early to make that call, Sean. But it's also this, it's too early for Jay Carney to say that was a long time ago. Jason and I watched a row of grieving parents and spouses and children and I promise you to them eight months was not a long time ago."