Hillary Clinton faces Benghazi hearing: live blog

politics | Oct 22, 2015 | By Martin Barillas

The hearing is paused while the members of the select committee adjourn in order to make votes on the House floor.

3:48 Seated behind Clinton is long-time aide Cheryl Mills, who served as chief of staff at State. She has been seen reading her smartphone and passing notes to Clinton during the hearing. In nearly five hours of testimony, Clinton has notably not been asked about her email server. Is this something Gowdy will bring out later? Rep. Roskam appeared to make an attempt to trap Clinton, according to the Wall Street Journal blog on the hearing. "He just read from an email suggesting that Mrs. Clinton was hoping to take a lot of credit for the State Department’s work in Benghazi before the Benghazi attacks. But Mrs. Clinton bristles at him when its revealed that Mr. Roskam omitted part of the email that shows Mr. Clinton was trying to get credit for the now-deceased Ambassador Stevens."
3:37  Republican Congressman  Pompeo,had t direct exchanges with Clinton, is using his second round of questions to corner her on her involvement in “personally” studying the security of all U.S. diplomatic facilities. Clinton said  she did take action on this in various areas around the world, but acknowledged that she didn’t study the security at every single facility. She said there were State Department security professionals who were in charge of that. Pompeo said sarcastically “Yes, ma’am. Leaders lead.”
3:30 Democrat Congresswoman Duckworth sought to link Republican cuts of government funding to supposed lack of security at diplomatic missions.
2012 coverage of Benghazi incident.
3:13 "Fog of war" killed Amb Stevens, says Clinton. 
3:05 Democrat Smith insists on calling the hearing a "prosecution" that has added nothing to the understanding of Benghazi. He claimed that the events of 9/11 did not receive as much scrutiny as that focused by the committee on Clinton.
Rep. Gowdy explained that he wants to know why Sidney Blumenthal sent emails to Clinton, and why those emails were forwarded to Ambassador Stevens in Libya. Gowdy called these emails “drivel” in a suggestion that Clinton was wasting Stevens' time. He asks how were these forwarded and acknowledged when she did not acknowledge Stevens' appeals for additional security.
2:44 Mike Huckabee says:
The above is a video released by a PAC critical of Clinton that was denounced by Democrats as having been aired just before Republicans decided to go ahead with Select Committee on Benghazi.

. giving candid assessment on as likely as & Rosie O'Donnell paddle-boating the Potomac together

2:43 Jeb Bush opines: 
2:39 Gowdy calls the committee back to order for the second tranche of the hearing.
1:19 Fireworks!  Dems want transcripts of Blumenthal testimony and emails. Gowdy insists on releasing testimony of survivors, CIA officers, etc. Wow! 
Cummings accused Gowdy of duplicity in his motivations and insisted on getting Blumenthal's transcripts. Gowdy and Cummings get jiggly over their differences. It is looking serious. They are taking a break now after more than 3 hours of testimony without a break. Gowdy promises to bring up more interesting details in next round of questioning. Wall Street Journals says Gowdy appears defensive (?) It looks like Dems and Reps on the committee genuinely do not trust each other.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R) quoted a previously unreleased email from Clinton that was obtained recently from the State Department. It is an email from Clinton to “Diane Reynolds” — a pseudonym used by Chelsea Clinton — that explains that an “al Qaeda-like group” was responsible for the Benghazi attack. Also released were notes from Clinton’s phone calls with the Libya president and Egyptian prime minister.
1:07 Clinton denies Blumenthal was advising her. She denies the White House knew about his emails.
1:02 Gowdy brings up Blumenthal's "unsolcited" emails. Some offered business deals in Libya. Gowdy mentions emails in which Blumenthal asks for intervention in Libyan business deals. Gowdy is drilling down on Clinton's defintion of "unsolicited." Clinton says she did not know where Blumenthal got his information, but one was a former US intelligence officer. Gowdy mentions that she redacted identifying info from Blumenthal's emails.
12:59 Gowdy goes on the offensive. He says that there is no"prosecution Mr. Schiff." "I advise you not to reach conclusions"
12:56 Rep Schiff (D) asks what is it like to be "accused" of interfering with security. She says she has lost sleep about it. She says she will honor memory of those who were lost and to create more understanding and cooperation between diplomats and Congress so that "Congress is a partner with us" as in "previous times." She brings up loss of Americans in Lebanon 1980s. she brings up bipartinship over terrorist attacks during Bill Clinton's administration.
12:46 Trump tweets:

" Hillary is doing a HORRIBLE job at reading from the script. . She is no leader

12:44 "Get my book" says Clinton to Jordan when he suggests she is not being square with the American people. 
12:36 Getting testy! Rep. Jordan saysClinton issued a statement that attributed the attacks to anger over a video about Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad. Clinton says Tunisians and Egyptians were protesting the video at U.S. diplomatic missions. When she tries to draw some distance between the video and the Benghazi attacks, Jordan ssays “I think you knew the truth.” Does he think she is lying? He suggests that no aid given to Amb Stevens because Libya was supposed to be a success for Obama and Clinton. H
12; 34 Clinton testifies that at the time she said that "some" Arabs were protesting the video.Jordan brings up State spokeswoman Nuland statements.
He asks whether Clinton knew the truth.
12:33 Jim Jordan (R-OH) brings up the Innocence of Muslim video!
12:32 Sanchez recalls testimony by ex CIA Director Petraeus that Clinton had called him night of attack. (He was later indicted for indiscretions with classified materials)
12:30 Clinton says that as soon as she knew of attack she contact WH, CIA, DoD, "anyone we knew", including Libyans for help. "A swirl and whirl of constant effort...deeply distressing, that CIA efforts were not successful... evac"
12:26 Rep Sanchez (D-Calif) asks Clinton about Pompeo's assertions on TV that Blumenthal was her main intelligence source. Sanchez reasserts that WaPo gave him 4 Pinocchios for inaccuracy. Clinton laughs and says the statement is incorrect. Sanchez goes on to accuse Republicans of partisan motives for investigation. She repeats assertions made about Clinton by Sens. Graham and Paul (who are not members of the committee).
Trey Gowdy, Chairman (SC-04)
Susan Brooks (IN-05)
Jim Jordan (OH-04)
Mike Pompeo (KS-04)
Martha Roby (AL-02)
Peter Roskam (IL-06)
Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03)
Elijah Cummings, Ranking Member (MD-07)
Adam Smith (WA-09)
Adam Schiff (CA-28)
Linda Sanchez (CA-38)
Tammy Duckworth (IL-08)
12:24 So far, Pompeo (R-KS) appears to be the most pumped about the hearing. Westmoreland's methodical approach did, however, draw out Clinton somewhat.
12:20 Clinton's friend-girl Huma Abedin Weiner is in the audience.
12:15 pm Clinton is asked by Rep. Mike Pompeo (RKS) why security requests did not reach her desk but Sidney Blumenthal's emails did. "He is a friend," she said. Some tips from Blumenthal, she said, were passed on to State, she said. Pompeo enumerates more than 600 email security requests, 80+ in the week before attack.
Some history...
On September 11, 2012, a series of protests and violent attacks began in response to a YouTube trailer for a film called Innocence of Muslims, considered blasphemous by many Muslims. The reactions began at U.S. diplomatic mission in Cairo, Egypt, and quickly spread across the Muslim world to additional U.S. and other countries' diplomatic missions and other locations, with issues beyond the offense at the movie trailer becoming subjects of protest. In Cairo a group scaled the embassy wall and tore down the American flag to replace it with a black Islamic flag.
On September 11, hours before the attacks, in response to the promotion of the film and in anticipation of protests, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued the following statement: "The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others."
12:07 Clinton says some of Amb Stevens security requests were granted, others were not. She says he was in constant contact. She says he gave his requests to Diplomatic Security. She supports DS. She seems to see Montgomery's questions as disparaging DS. 
12:06 Clinton just outed the presence of CIA officers in US embassies worldwide.
12:05 Rep Montgomery (R) drilling down on Clinton on security at Benghazi. Clinton said that 18 incidents before Sept 11, 2013. Montgomery wanted to know how many would have raised an alarm with her. She dodges. "Maybe it's hard to understand," she said to Montgomery.
11:57 Clinton appears to blame Republicans for lack of diplomatic security for not passing budget.
11:54 Clinton asserted that 100 diplomatic facilities were attacked since 2001. I'm not sure about that...
11:48 Rep Adam Smith (D-WA) complains about $4.2 million spent by the committee. When are Democrats otherwise concerned about spending taxpayer dollars?
11:18 Rep Susan Brooks is drilling down with Clinton... when did she know and what did she know.
11:15 Clinton: Libya "risky" but Stevens "volunteered."
11:12 Clinton says she sent Amb. Stevens on "expeditionary diplomacy" after getting advice from security professionals, Asst Secretary Jeff Feldman, Asst Secretary for Diplomatic Security. "a risky undertaking." "19th century diplomacy"
Politifact rates as "Mostly True" the report from Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif) that 66 Americans were killed in terrorist attacks on US diplomatic facilities during the George W. Bush administration.  Here is a list provided by Politifact.
Below is a list that is circulating on the Web:
January 22, 2002: US Consulate Kolkata. 5 killed
June 14, 2002: US Consulate Karachi. 12 killed
February 28, 2003: US Embassy Islamabad. 2 killed
June 30, 2004. US embassy Tashkent. 2 killed
December 6, 2004. US compound Saudi Arabia. 9 killed
March 2, 2006. US Consulate Karachi. 2 killed
September 12, 2006. US Embassy at Syria. 4 killed
march 18, 2008. US Embassy Yemen. 2 killed
July 9, 2008. US Consulate Istanbul. 6 killed
September 17, 2008. US Embassy Yemen. 16 killed
11:06 Clinton says no cable came to her requesting additional diplomatic security in Libya.
10:56 Clinton claims that Libya is not a "disaster" now.
10:54 Clinton reminds the Repulican questioner that she was the Secretary of State
10:48 Clinton says no American military on the ground in Libya. I guess she is not counting any covert operations. It's a matter of semantics. There might have been forward air observers, "civilian" advisors to Libyans engaged in fighting each other, ...
10:40 Clinton wants Congress as partner in reforming State Department diplomatic security, says she implemented 29 suggestions from Pickering investigation.
10:38 Clinton likens Benghazi to death of Marines in Lebanon during Reagan years, attacks under Clinton, and under Bush administration after 911.
10:35 Clinton pays tribute to diplomats who serve in places where there is no U.S. military. "Who put their lives on the line for our country"
10:33 Clinton says she wants to move forward as a nation. Says she launched her own review and reforms post attack. Says thousands of Libyans came out to the streets in tribute to dead Americans.
10:32 Two months before his death at the hands of terrorists, Ambassador Chris Stevens requested in a July 9, 2012, cable to Washington DC 13 security personnel to help him safely travel around Libya.  Stevens reported "Overall security conditions continue to be unpredictable, with large numbers of armed groups and individuals not under control of the central government, and frequent clashes in Tripoli and other major population centers." The cable said 13 security personnel as the "minimum" needed for "transportation security and incident response capability." A congressional source said Patrick Kennedy, a deputy to Clinton, turned down the request. 

10:28 Clinton says she is honoring the service of the four men: Ambassador Stevens and others including CIA operators. "I knew and admired Christ Stevens."

10:27 Cummings wants to put an end to the Republican "fishing expedition."

10:21 Among the spectators within sight behind Clinton is Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX).

10:20 Cummings says Republicans refuse to have head of CIA and DoD questioned along with Clinton. "Why is (Gowdy) telling Republicans to shut up?"

10:17 Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland goes on the offensive. Clinton nods and smiles vaguely in a sagacious manner as Cummings denounces Republicans and "the answers that got" on previous investigations before the Select Committee was formed. This came about once Clinton announced her candidacy. "Wasting millions of taxpayer dollars," says Cummings.

10:16 "GOP won't stop investi-hating Hillary until they can prove she personally Bengahzi'd Vince Foster" was the headline of an article at the progressive Daily Kos website written by Barbara Morrill

10:14 Gowdy goes on the offensive against Democrats on the committee for blocking the appearance of certain witnesses and the revelation of Clinton's emails.

10:13 Gowdy says the delay in having Clinton appear is due to Clinton's "email arrangement."

10:11 Gowdy appears to be defensive by assuring Clinton that the investigation is about her but it is about the response to the Benghazi attack and the death of four Americans. It is about "preventing it from happening to others."

10:05 Gowdy says security at Benghazi facility was inadequate, asking what Washington and U.S. military did or did not do. He asks why getting information is so difficult to obtain.


We know what they gave us.  What do we owe them? Justice for those who killed them.  We owe their families our everlasting respect and gratitude.  We owe them - and each other - the truth. 

The truth about why we were in Libya. 
The truth about what we were doing in Libya.  
The truth about the escalating violence in Libya before we were attacked and these four men lost their lives.
The truth about requests for additional security.
The truth about requests for more personnel.
The truth about requests for more equipment.
The truth about where and why our military was positioned as it was on the anniversary of 9-11. 
The truth about what was happening and being discussed in Washington while our people were under attack.
The truth about what led to the attacks.
The truth about what our government told the American people after the attacks.
Why were there so many requests for more security personnel and equipment, and why were those requests denied in Washington?
Why did the State Department compound in Benghazi not even come close to meeting proper security specifications?
What policies were we pursuing in Libya that required a physical presence in spite of the escalating violence?

10:03 Gowdy pays tribute to the Americans killed in Benghazi.



Chairman Gowdy refers to Clinton ad Madame Secretary. She is actually now a private citizen. Ordinary protocol would only dictate the title "Honorable.'


10:01 Hillary is in the building and shaking hands all around. 


9:57 am

The attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi was initially reported by media sources as a protest by Muslims against a YouTube video, Innocence of Muslims, that was produced and uploaded by Mark Basseley Youssef - an Egyptian Christian who resides in the U.S. The video was deemed by Muslims as anti-Islamic and was cited by some protesters and a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Egypt as the cause of unrest. Obama administration investigators later deemed that attacks as premeditated and bearing no relation to the offending video. However, terror suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala stated that the assault was in retaliation for the video. Whether the committee investigating Hillary Clinton's role in the aftermath of the deadly attack, and whether the U.S. response was affected by the video, is yet to be aired.


9:30 am
Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton will face a special committee in the House of Representatives at 10 a.m. EST to answer further questions about her response to the crisis that unfolded in 2012 in Benghazi, Libya, when Muslim terrorists seized control of a U.S. diplomatic facility and killed the American ambassador and several other Americans. She will face seven Republicans and five Democrats in the Ways and Means Committee hearing room who sit on a committee chaired by Republican Trey Gowdy, a skilled former prosecutor.
Questions for the former First Lady could easily go on for an entire day. The committee will attempt to determine what was her role as America's chief diplomat in the hours during which the attack on the Benghazi facility unfolded. Also at issue is her handling of potentially sensitive and classified information on a private email server.
However, the committee will question her under a cloud of accusations from Clinton and other Democrats that foloowed remarks made in September by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) who said that the special committee had successfully driven down Clinton's poll numbers as she continues to advance in her presidential nomination quest. Gowdy has forcefully denounced any suggestion of partisan motives for the current inquiry. Republicans on the committee are expected to avoid any appearance of partisanship during the proceedings today. 
Clinton has been outspoken in her self-defense. During her first appearance before Congress on the Benghazi matter, she famously retorted while still serving as Secretary of State when pressed by Republicans about her role, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” Her frustration and remarks have become a signal event cited by Clinton's detractors. Clinton may prove to be effective in deflecting attention from her role in the Benghazi disaster since she has experience, not only as a witness before Congress but also as a senator who questioned witnesses. In addition, Clinton was on the impeachment inquiry staff in Washington, D.C. in an advisory capacity to the House Committee on the Judiciary during the Watergate scandal. Working under Chief Counsel John Doar and senior member Bernard Nussbaum, Clinton researched impeachment procedures, as well as the historical grounds and standards for impeachment. Ultimately, that committee's work was crowned by the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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