Security Failures of Benghazi: Today’s Hearing

Today: Security Failures of Benghazi Hearing
12:00pm in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building


Witnesses:

Ms. Charlene R. Lamb (testimony)
Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs, Bureau of Diplomatic Security
U.S. Department of State

Mr. Eric Nordstrom (testimony)
Regional Security Officer
U.S. Department of State

Lt. Col. Andrew Wood (testimony)
Utah National Guard
U.S. Army

Ambassador Patrick Kennedy (testimony)
Under Secretary for Management
U.S. Department of State

Video is currently streaming online. Should also be accessible after the hearing here.

Quick takes from the hearing’s Q& A:

  • RSO Nordstrom is a strong and articulate witness. DAS Lamb not so much. U/S Kennedy so-so.
  • DAS Lamb and U/S Kennedy have never been to Libya
  • U/S Kennedy defended Susan Rice’s statement on tv, wrangles with various members of the Committee including Congressman Labrador  (Idaho, first district-R) who just dot-connected Rice’s “shameful” statement to the WH.
  • RSO Nordstrom’s security request was turned down as the danger pay for post was bumped up.
  • There is a 50-minute video, other agency as source; video not yet made available to Congress
  • Offense/defense skirmishes on staffing, funding, use of classified materials in open hearing, etc. etc.
  • It looks like a classified hearing will also be held.
  • Col. Wood said he expected an attack to happen, it was only a matter of time
  • RSO Nordstrom request was called a recommendation not a request by DAS Lamb.  Confirmed phone call request prior to the cable request; identified DAS Lamb as the person who turned it down.
  • U/S Kennedy cites his 39 service as FSO including service under six Secretary of State and eight presidents since President Nixon, and on his honor declared that there was no political pressure exerted.
  • Professional malpractice?
  • Rep. Gawdy wants to drag Ambassador Rice to a hearing, cites Rep Chaffetz being emotional “by what he saw in Libya”; Rep Cummings defends.
  • Somebody’s head gonna roll; I don’t think it will be RSO Nordstrom. Can’t say the same for DAS Lamb.
  • None of the witnesses were in Libya during the attack; no one mentions RSO David Ubben who survived the attack and is in the DC area.
  • DAS Lamb just gave two other names in Diplomatic Security chain of command who has responsibility for deciding on RSO Nordstrom’s request; acknowledged decision was not her sole discretion: PDAS Scott P. Bultrowicz and Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Eric J. Boswell; PDAS Lamb just gave an underhanded compliment to RSO Nordstrom
  • Kennedy: “We cannot end the security risks to our for our people overseas.”
  • Nordstrom: “We were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident.”
  • Nordstrom: “How thin does the ice have to get before someone falls through.
  • Regional Director, Near Eastern Affairs
  • Nordstrom:Wood:  “We were fighting a losing battle; we could not even keep what we had.”
  • Nordstrom: ““For me, the Taliban is on the inside of the building.”
  • Issa:  “You don’t decrease security at the same time you are increasing hazard pay”
  • RSO Nordstrom sounded calm, DAS Lamb sounded frazzled; U/S Kennedy a seasoned congressional witness who did not hesitate to interupt.

Here are the bump up danger pay rates from June – October 2012 (first column is the rate for Tripoli, the second column is the rate for all other places in Libya, including Benghazi).  This is in addition to the hardship differential and COLA for posts. For context, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan all get 35% danger pay in the latest rates published).

June 17, 2012             25%                      25%

July 29, 2012             30%                      30%

August 26, 2012        30%                      30%

Sept 23, 2012             30%                      30%

Oct 7, 2012                 30%                      30%

Hope to have more later.

4 responses

  1. Wow, in that second clip you posted that Rep. Jordan sure sounds like an a$$hat. What would it have took, indeed? How many incidences? More importantly, does this man have any idea how things function overseas?
    Good job, voters of Ohio’s 4th.

    • I thought the guy had too much sugar, I was waiting for him to pull all his hair out. I don’t know that they learned anything more useful in there, not that they were there to learn. It is interesting that there were a lot more members in attendance. During the campaign season, forced to sit for four hours, imagine that. I’m almost impressed.