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Benghazi “Whistler-blowers” and the Partisan Hacks

Greg Hicks, former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, told congressional investigators that the State Department internal review of the catastrophe at the mission in Benghazi “let people off the hook,” CNN has learned. [CNN]

Official White House photo: Pete Souza

Official White House photo: Pete Souza

THERE ARE no two people more associated with partisan brawls than Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing, who are now representing the so-called Benghazi “whistle-blowers.” They’re most recent partisan plea for justice was demanding a pardon for Scooter Libby over his involvement in the outing of CIA NOC Valerie Plame Wilson.

There’s a reason Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing have been retained, which is represented by the latest Fox News headline:

Clinton sought end-run around counterterrorism bureau

on night of Benghazi attack, witness will say

The large Fox News headline should alert you to what’s going on, with Brian Stelter offering an anecdote on Fox and Benghazi. They’re coming for Hillary Clinton.

It’s not exactly Whitewater, because that was launched in the spring of the same year that Bill Clinton was running for president, but it’s a close cousin. The latest attempt to tar Hillary Clinton with Benghazi comes before she’s even decided to run for president. But just in case she does, Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova want to make sure there’s plenty of fodder for the media to pick through once it happens. So, they’re back and they’re loaded with Benghazi factoids.

The real shame in this is that if there are legitimate questions to be asked and answered there is no way to trust the information through this hyper partisan lens.

During the Clinton – Lewinski imbroglio, Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova were seen on television more often than any two lawyers. The Washington Post profile of the two, who are married, apprears in the “Clinton Accused” archives.

Jake Tapper reports what CNN has learned about what Greg Hicks, former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya is alleging. Tapper does his sober best to take Hicks and the information being supplied to congressional investigators seriously. But it’s ground we’ve been over before.

Hicks’s beef seems to revolve around U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s characterization of the Benghazi attack on television.

“I thought it was a terrorist attack from the get‑go,” said Hicks, who was in Tripoli during the attack. “I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning.”

Hicks said he never had any indication that there had been a popular protest outside the mission in Benghazi.

“I never reported a demonstration; I reported an attack on the consulate,” Hicks said. Stevens’ “last report, if you want to say his final report, is, ‘Greg, we are under attack.’”

You know, it’s jaw‑dropping that ‑‑ to me that ‑‑ how that came to be,” Hicks recalled. “And, you know, I knew ‑‑ I was personally known to one of (U.S.) Ambassador (to the United Nations Susan) Rice’s staff members. And, you know, we’re six hours ahead of Washington. Even on Sunday morning, I could have been called, and, you know, the phone call could have been, ‘hey, Greg, Ambassador Rice is going to say blah, blah, blah, blah,’ and I could have said, ‘no, that’s not the right thing.’ That phone call was never made.”

Hicks said that “for there to have been a demonstration on Chris Stevens’ front door and him not to have reported it is unbelievable. And secondly, if he had reported it, he would have been out the back door within minutes of any demonstration appearing anywhere near that facility. And there was a back gate to the facility, and, you know, it worked.”

Hicks said that despite being the senior diplomat in Libya after Stevens was killed, he wasn’t consulted at all before Rice went on Sunday talk shows to discuss the attacks.

Rice contradicted Libyan President Mohammed Magariaf, who said the same day that “this was an attack by Islamic extremists, possibly with terrorist links,” Hicks said. “He describes what happens. He tells the truth of what happened. And so, you know, Ambassador Rice says what she says, contradicting what the president of Libya says from Benghazi.”

This violated “a cardinal rule of diplomacy that we learn in our orientation class, and that rule is, never inadvertently insult your interlocutor. 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 or doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The impact of that is immeasurable. 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’ve never been ‑‑ 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.

The day after Rice’s appearance on the Sunday shows, Hicks says, he asked Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Beth Jones, ” ‘Why did Ambassador Rice say that?’ And Beth Jones said, ‘I don’t know.’”

Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will hear testimony from Hicks on Wednesday. Victoria Toensing won’t be far off camera.

The Fox News headline concentrates on former Secretary Clinton. Mark I Thompson, another so-called “whistle-blower,” who we’ve heard from before, has retained Joseph diGenova. Thompson is reportedly going to level accusations at Clinton during Wednesday’s hearings. Thompson is a former Marine and now the deputy coordinator for operations in the agency’s counterterrorism bureau.

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.

So, Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova, through their clients, have leveled their aim at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as Under Secretary Patrick F. Kennedy, a career foreign service officer.

The chaos that ensued on the ground after the Benghazi bombing had its roots long before it started. Foreign service officers like Chris Stevens make harrowing choices to move countries forward after leaders fall. The most fateful decision was moving from the safer city of Tripoli to the unstable city of Benghazi, which was a much more dangerous post. But Stevens believed it had to be done to get closer to the Libyan people, who love him it should be noted, in order to continue the efforts of stabilizing the country after Gadhafi fell.

Rep. Issa’s majority Republican committee is a partisan investigation into a diplomatic foreign policy matter that these politicians seem not to remotely understand. The so-called “whistle-blowers” have retained lawyers who are infamous in the worst partisan wars Washington has seen in the last twenty years.

It’s not difficult to see what’s going on here.

What happened in Benghazi was a tragedy. The way the information was dispensed to the public afterward was handled poorly by the Obama administration, partly because in the 24/7 new media multi-platform era we live in no White House can respond clearly enough after chaos erupts.

Secretary Clinton didn’t go on the Sunday shows, because she obviously knew what was going to happen if she did. Ambassador Rice took the Administration bullet for Benghazi, but now the partisan hacks are coming back to get the woman they couldn’t touch the first time around.

There were mistakes made in Benghazi. Hopefully our government has learned something from it, because nothing is going to be learned through the partisan lens that is now being utilized to pull scalps.

One wonders what Issa’s Republican committee, as well as the media and James Fox at Fox News, might do today with the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon that happened under Ronald Reagan’s watch, a man who got away with an impeachable offense for Iran-Contra.

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10 Responses to Benghazi “Whistler-blowers” and the Partisan Hacks

  1. PeggySue May 6, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    The GOP wil do anything to hack away at Hillary Clinton’s popularity quotient. Because they know if she runs, their asses will be in a sling. They have no one, nothing to compete with Clinton and their so-called outreach to minorities is laughter inducing. This is same old, same old. If you can’t beat ‘em, smear ‘em. Or cheat at the polls. If Hillary does run it will only get worse. Much worse.

    Btw, I agree that there are legitimate questions to be asked about Benghazi, about what went wrong and how to prevent similar tragedies in the future. But these smear campaigns launched by Fox news aren’t meant to reveal any real answers and/or solutions. This is a witch hunt, nothing more.

  2. Ga6thDem May 6, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    I figure with Issa leading the charge whatever investigation there is going to be will turn into a clown circus

    The whole Benghazi stuff is about nothing more than keeping the far right lathered up about something. . Thousands more Americans died because of Bush’s decision to go into Iraq and nary a peep from the GOP on that account. This whole thing does not seem to resonate with anyone beyond the far right.

  3. Taylor Marsh May 6, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    Rush Limbaugh is refighting the 2012 election over this nonsense today. “Make sure none of this touches her,” is how Rush couched Clinton’s efforts today. It’s all so predictable.

    PeggySue – If we’re going to topple dictators we’re going to be left with a mess that brave foreign service officers are stuck with, which Chris Stevens inherited. Moving to Benghazi, leaving Tripoli, was a fateful decision.

    What Republicans don’t respect and never have respected is that foreign service officers are diplomatic soldiers. They just die post-battle.

    Ga6thDem – What you said on Issa.

    • PeggySue May 6, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

      I agree, Taylor. This is the price we pay [or our diplomats pay] when stationed in dangerous areas around the world. And yes, I did read that Stevens made the call/request to be in Benghazi and he was well loved and respected for his outreach to citizens. We lost a good man and three other Americans. Something went wrong that night. Finding out what that was is a legitimate line of inquiry to try to prevent future tragedies. But that won’t happen with the scream-fest that’s already begun although I understand changes have been put in place based on investigations already made. Not adequately funding embassy security is rarely mentioned. Wonder why???

      I heard McCain is comparing this to Iran-Contra. Huh? And there was the last accusation about Obama where the Watergate comparison was used. All the old Republican sins are flying out of the closet for a revisit, as if to say: see, see the Dems are just the same. I have plenty of complaints about the current state of the Democratic Party but the false equivalencies just don’t fly.

      And Issa? He totally blew his credibility when he charged that Hillary Clinton’s name appeared on what he said was a damning piece of evidence from the State Department. Oops. Turns out the SOS’s signature appears on every document coming out of the State Department. These clowns don’t even do their homework. And they look and sound like utter fools.

    • dafederalist May 6, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

      My only concern about toppling these dictators is the religious fundamentalist we leave in their place or the corrupt governments that take their place. ISSA is just reprehensible in using this committee for clearly partisan means but I am not naive enough to think otherwise. PLEASE Republicans…continue compitulating your Fox viewer base…I think the average age of the fox viewer is “Dead”. They aren’t attracting any women, any young voters or any minorities and the only reason why they were able to retain control of the house is thru all that Gerry-mandering they’ve done over the years.

  4. fairmindedindependent May 6, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

    Fox News is going into overdrive with the Benghazi tragedy. Yep, their going to go after Hillary Clinton because she is a big threat. They have no one to run against her, only Chris Christie or maybe Marco Rubio is their only candidates I can think of that can generate some votes. I think that’s actually sad because I am a big Hillary Clinton fan but it would actually be nice to have a tight and close election. Its best for our democracy, but Hillary Clinton might win this election in a landslide in 2016 if she runs.

    • secularhumanizinevoluter May 6, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

      “Fox News is going into overdrive with the Benghazi tragedy.” “is going into overdrive”? is GOING into over drive?!!!!!!! Is it just me or have they been screaming BENGHAZI,BENGHAZI,BENGHAZI practically since it happened?

  5. newdealdem1 May 6, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    “I think that’s actually sad because I am a big Hillary Clinton fan but it would actually be nice to have a tight and close election.”

    OY. ;) ;)

    First, Christie (I’ll go out on a limb here and say that) will never be the choice in a
    GOP primary given it’s total submission to the Tea Party where being Ivory Soap Zealot “Pure” (in their blinkered eyes) is the only way to roll. To them Christie has cooties as he’s not only hugged Obama in a brotherly, solidarity way but he actually praised him in public and told everyone who dissed him for his reasonable behavior that he had a loyalty to his NJ compatriots.

    IF and let me stress that again, IF SOS Clinton decides to run for POTUS (and, I will be mucho gusto verklempt if she does) and her opponent is one of these Tea Party/Repulsive Libertarian true believers, I wish with every fiber in my heart and soul and corporeal being :) the election results are not “tight and close” because most Americans are disgusted by the Tea Party and it’s zealotry as every poll I’ve seen in this regard documents. And, I include myself in those results even if I’ve never been asked in any poll my opinion in this regard.

    For various reasons in addition to wanting to see the Tea Party/Libertarian Repulsives receive a metaphorical kick in their collective demented arses, IF SOS Clinton runs, I want to see the election results (which elevates her to our 45 POTUS) to be a BLOWOUT. And, nice has nothing to do with it especially where the Tea Party/Libertarian Repulsives are concerned.

    “During the Clinton — Lewinski imbroglio, Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova were seen on television more often than any two lawyers. The Washington Post profile of the two, who are married, apprears in the “Clinton Accused” archives.”

    Oh, I remember this horrid “professional” couple well. I haven’t seen them in years but it’s no surprise to me that these rabid partisan hacks who did so much damage in the ’90′s along with the rest of the GOP vampires who never let up on hunting the Clintons, are back and in the role they are playing to once again “try” to GET a Clinton.

    I truly hope some reasonable and reliable reporters will remind the American public of what the Toensing-diGenova’s did to add to the cacophony of targeting the Clintons like rabid, partisan skunks.

    I was watching Andrea Mitchell on my DVR this evening and she had on Chris Cillizza who wrote a column in WAPO today (which I haven’t read) about the “whistle blowers” coming forth to testify this week before the hypocritical high-hackery committee chaired by Darrell Issa and who will be represented by theToensing-diGenova’s. And, she never said one word about these high hacks but said that “there was a chink in Hillary Clinton’s armor”. Mitchell makes me dizzy when it comes to Hillary Clinton and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least (as she did during the ’08 primaries) if she sided with Issa.

    • PeggySue May 6, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

      Wouldn’t surprise me either. Mitchell always couches her comments when it comes to Hillary Clinton. But Maureen Dowd takes the prize. I have never read such drivel and pop-psychology nonsense when Dowd gets on her high horse over the Clintons.

      The Republicans will do anything to smear and misdirect because they have nothing for 2016 but a bunch of crazy people. They’re demented. Christie would be their best bet but he’d never survive the primaries–he’s too liberal [haha] for the tri-cornered hat faction.

      If this Benghazi ‘investigation/hearing’ turns out to be another round of terrorist act vs act of terrorism word play the GOP will slit their own throats. Didn’t work last year; won’t play well on a second round. This is another staged witch hunt for the Tea Party base, people who never heard a conspiracy theory they couldn’t wallow in. If the smear campaign can bring down those phenomenal Clinton polling numbers that’s even better.

      And yes, if HRC runs? I want the blowout, where the The Grand Old Party is blasted back to the Stone Age where they belong.

  6. newdealdem1 May 9, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    At the link, there is an interesting “fill in the blanks” about Hicks and his position as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) from one insider/American diplomat.

    Whilst I don’t deny Hicks’ being very upset about the loss of his friend and colleague, Chris Stevens. That seemed real enough to me, but there was something about this guy that didn’t sit well with me when I watched a bit of the hearings last night on cspan. Sour grapes came to mind and that It just seemed he wanted his 15 minutes in the spotlight.

    From Foreign Policy Magazine:

    “From an American diplomat, e-mailing Situation Report this morning:

    “Hicks is classic case of underachiever who whines when big breaks don’t come his way. 22 years as an FSO and he is still an FS-1 (COL equivalent). His uninformed comments about F-16s validates why he is still a mid-ranked officer. Where was his testimony on his role in trying to talk his ambassador out of making an overnight visit to a place he knew was dangerous? Very few DCMs who lose an ambassador can expect greater responsibilities…and there are dozens of talented FS-1 ranked ‘desk officers’ working honorably at the State Department. Also of interest is that he is running for a senior leadership position in the State Dept. union/professional association, [American Foreign Service Association]. He didn’t get my vote.” “

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