It seems apparent that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton deliberately tried to freeze out her own department's counterterrorism office during discussions about the Benghazi attack in order to minimize the possibility that the attack would be seen as a terrorist act.
The testimony that will be given on Wednesday before Rep. Issa's oversight committee from Mark Thompson, deputy coordinator for operations at the counterterrorism bureau, was never heard by the Accountability Review Board, the "independent" commission set up by the State Department to look into what happened in Benghazi.
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.
That witness is Mark I. Thompson, a former Marine and now the deputy coordinator for operations in the agency's counterterrorism bureau. Sources tell Fox News Thompson will level the allegation against Clinton during testimony on Wednesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
Fox News has also learned that another official from the counterterrorism bureau -- independently of Thompson -- voiced the same complaint about Clinton and Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy to trusted national security colleagues back in October.
Thompson considers himself a whistle-blower whose account was suppressed by the official investigative panel that Clinton convened to review the episode, the Accountability Review Board (ARB). Thompson's lawyer, Joseph diGenova, a former U.S. attorney, has further alleged that his client has been subjected to threats and intimidation by as-yet-unnamed superiors at State, in advance of his cooperation with Congress.
Sources close to the congressional investigation who have been briefed on what Thompson will testify tell Fox News the veteran counterterrorism official concluded on Sept. 11 that Clinton and Kennedy tried to cut the counterterrorism bureau out of the loop as they and other Obama administration officials weighed how to respond to -- and characterize -- the Benghazi attacks.
This suggests that Hillary Clinton was immediately thinking of downplaying any role by al-Qaeda in the attack. Just why she would do that isn't clear. It has been suggested that politics played a role in the decision to portray the attack as a "demonstration," but that may be too simplistic an answer. Other factors, including a desire to cover up the State Department's failure to adequately protect the diplomats, as well as a perceived need to absolve the shaky new government of Libya of responsibility for any attack, may have played a role as well.
Hillary Clinton should be recalled by the committee to explain this, and other issues that will be raised by the testimony of whistleblowers on Wednesday. With direct testimony contradicting some of her story, she will have to realize that if she plans to run for president in 2016, the Benghazi issue will dog her both in the primaries and general election unless she can put it behind her.