Benghazi is back in the news. Two years ago terrorists attacked our diplomatic facility in that eastern Libyan city. They killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens, a State Department staffer and two CIA-hired former Navy Seals.
Earlier this year the Republican-controlled House of Representatives established a select committee to probe what exactly happened before, during and after the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks. The skirmish first struck a Benghazi diplomatic facility and included a running gunfight to a more secure facility in the same city that we now know functioned as a CIA base of operations. Deadly attacks continued at the CIA annex. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairs the select committee.
The New York Times on Sept. 5 covered the release of a new book on this topic titled "13 Hours." The authors are CIA-hired commandos who were stationed at the annex and mounted a rescue operation for Americans under attack at the diplomatic facility. Mitchell Zuckoff, a professor of journalism, is also credited with helping them write their account.
The authors, who were all former special operations members of our armed forces, relate that the base chief of the annex "stopped them from interceding in time to save the lives of Stevens and an American technician during the attack on the diplomatic mission there."
Their account describes their repeated protest that their base chief ordered them to wait in their vehicles fully armed while the attack on the diplomatic facility was taking place less than a mile from their position. They relate the radio call from a diplomatic security agent shouting to them, "If you guys do not get here, we are going to die." The commandos share in the book that they actually left their base in defiance of the chief's continuing order to stand down.
Noted author and political candidate Kenneth R. Timmerman has also contributed a book on this topic. The book, released earlier this year, is titled, "Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi." Readers may recall that Timmerman was the Republican candidate for Congress in District 8 two years ago. He was also governor candidate Charles Lollar's running mate in this year's GOP gubernatorial primary in June.
Timmerman is a personal friend of mine, as I volunteered for his congressional campaign in 2012. I believe his work to be the definitive account of both the events on the ground two years ago in Libya and the ensuing spin machine that went into effect after those attacks.
I also appreciate that Timmerman places these events in an even greater context of trends and grave concerns in the whole Middle East region. He's written extensively on such topics in other books and has been published in major media outlets.
Timmerman also goes to great lengths to knock down different myths or speculation that have developed about various questions surrounding this entire series of events.
The first appendix of his book includes a question-and-answer section. The first question addressed relates to any evidence of a demonstration inspired by an Internet video that might have led to the attacks. Timmerman documents that at 6:02 p.m. Washington time, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "was informed that this was a terrorist attack." Yet four hours later she put out a written statement incorporating the notion that a protest was sparked by a video that got out of hand.
The second appendix question asks the rationale for Stevens being in Benghazi in the first place, given many threats to Americans and European interests that had occurred in that part of Libya. Gregory Hicks, who was the second in command State Department official in Libya at the time, has testified to Congress that the department had a goal of expanding this diplomatic facility into a full-blown consulate before Clinton's departure as secretary of state.
Some have suggested such an opening would have given Clinton an opportunity to showcase her work as secretary. She had previously announced that she would not serve in any second term of the administration.
Timmerman's book contains many additional revelations. I have a feeling these will be incorporated into the select committee's public hearings. He shared with me that he briefed Gowdy and key staff on his findings.
According to a report in Wednesday's Washington Examiner those public hearings will begin next week. My hope is that they will be fact-based, not theatrical, in nature. We will know that very soon.