CNN's State of the Union misleadingly hyped congressional Republican demands to interview survivors of the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The report ignored, however, that multiple key witnesses to the attack have already testified before Congress and more are scheduled to testify in the future.
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CNN Overlooks Previous Benghazi Survivor Testimony
CNN's State Of The Union Ignores Previous Testimony To Imply No Benghazi Survivors Have Spoken To Congress. On CNN's State of the Union, host Candy Crowley questioned Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) about her and Sen. Lindsey Graham's demand to interview survivors of the Benghazi attack, ignoring the fact that Congress has previously spoken to individuals who were on the ground during the attack:
CROWLEY: [Ayotte] wrote a letter to the State Department asking to interview survivors of the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi more than a year ago. But the administration has refused, saying in part, "Because these survivors are potential witnesses in a terrorism prosecution" and that "disclosure of their identities could put their lives ... at increased risk."
There is a movement by Senator Lindsey Graham to block all of the president's nominees until survivors of the Benghazi attack are allowed to come and testify to various committees. Are you on board with that tactic? [CNN, State of the Union, 11/3/13]
But Benghazi Survivors Testified Before Congress Previously And More Testimony Is Scheduled
LA Times: Two "Key Witnesses" Were "Grilled For Hours" On Capitol Hill. According to an October 28, 2013, report in the Los Angeles Times, "Two of the Justice Department's key witnesses in last year's terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, were summoned to Capitol Hill this month and grilled for hours in separate legal depositions" by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA):
Two of the Justice Department's key witnesses in last year's terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, were summoned to Capitol Hill this month and grilled for hours in separate legal depositions.
Issa, mounting his own congressional investigation, learned the agents' names in May, and in September began pushing for access to them. The agents are Alec Henderson, who was stationed in Benghazi, and John Martinec, then based in Tripoli. [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/13]
LA Times: Rep. Issa Learned Identity Of Survivors Through Previous Benghazi Testimony. According to the October 28 Los Angeles Times article, Issa learned the identities of the witnesses through former Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks, who had been stationed in Tripoli during the attack:
The powerful Republican House chairman learned the identities of the three agents from Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission in Libya, who testified before the committee.
Hicks revealed that "Martinec ran into my villa [in Tripoli] yelling, 'Greg, Greg, the consulate's under attack.'" He said Martinec had been in phone contact with Henderson in Benghazi, and that Henderson told Martinec "the consulate had been breached and there were at least 20 hostile individuals armed in the compound." [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/13]
Daily Beast: Multiple CIA Officers Who Were At The Base During The Attack Testified Before Congress. According to a May 24 report by The Daily Beast, multiple CIA officers who were in Benghazi at the time of the attack have already testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence:
On Wednesday, Deputy CIA Director Mike Morell -- along with CIA officers who were at the agency's Benghazi base on the night of the attack -- testified at a classified hearing before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In the closed hearing, according to U.S. officials with knowledge of the proceedings, Morell was asked by Republican members about how the second wave of attackers knew to go to the CIA annex, which was a mile away from the diplomatic mission. Morell responded that at this point the CIA did not know whether the attackers had known the location of the annex or learned about it on the evening of the attack, according to these sources. [The Daily Beast, 5/24/13]
CNN Reported That More CIA Employees Are Scheduled To Testify Before Congress On Benghazi Attack This November. According to CNN's own reporting, eyewitnesses to the Benghazi attacks will testify in another closed door session before the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Oversight and Government Reform the week of November 11:
A House Intelligence subcommittee will hear from CIA security officers who are expected to tell a much more detailed story about the terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans last year, CNN has learned.
The men, described by sources as former Navy SEALs, former Army Special Forces and former Marines, were under contract to guard CIA agents on the ground there.
The security officers were among those who responded when Stevens' compound was attacked on the night of September 11, 2012.
They will appear before lawmakers behind closed doors during the week of November 11, sources told CNN. [CNN, 10/31/13]
Administration Warned That Further Testimony Could Jeopardize Prosecution Of Terrorists, Endanger Lives Of Witnesses
DOJ: Compelling Eyewitness Testimony Could "Jeopardize Any Criminal Prosecution Of The Terrorists." According to the Los Angeles Times, the Department of Justice (DOJ) repeatedly warned Issa that forcing testimony of eyewitnesses to the attack could hurt the integrity of the prosecution's case against the attackers:
Weeks before the interviews, top Justice Department officials repeatedly warned Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) against doing so, saying it would seriously jeopardize any criminal prosecution of the terrorists. They wrote three times to the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, strongly urging him not to insist on interviewing the agents.
The interviews have not been released. But the Justice Department expressed concern that Issa might reveal some details from the interviews, or that defense lawyers could subpoena them if suspects are apprehended, according to the sources, who did not have permission to speak publicly, citing the ongoing investigation. At least one person has been named in a sealed indictment in the Benghazi attacks.
The interviews "would prematurely alert individuals who may be charged about details of the government's case against them," and would give defense lawyers a golden opportunity to review the depositions and impeach the agents if they testified as prosecution witnesses, the Justice Department warned in one of the letters, according to sources. [Los Angeles Times, 10/28/13]
State Department Warned That Testimony Could "Put [Witnesses'] Lives, As Well As Those Of Their Families And The People They Protect, At Increased Risk." According to FoxNews.com, in a letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the State Department warned that revealing the identities of the eyewitnesses to the attack may place the witnesses and those near them in danger:
In a letter to Graham ... [the State Department] also wrote that "because these survivors are potential witnesses in a terrorism prosecution, as well as law enforcement professionals who engage in security activities around the world including at high-threat posts, disclosure of their identities could put their lives, as well as those of their families and the people they protect, at increased risk." [FoxNews.com, 11/1/13]