• Today’s Benghazi Hearing: Quick Recap

    May 8, 2013

    Tags: , , , , , ,
    Posted in: Embassy/State, Libya



    The State Department was beaten up pretty bad in today’s Benghazi hearing, with both Deputy Chief of Mission Greg Hicks (second in charge after the ambassador) and RSO (security guy) Ed Nordstrom from Libya contradicting earlier State Department remarks.

    Hicks in particular made it clear that there was absolutely nothing to justify Susan Rice’s September 2012 assertions that the attack had anything to do with an anti-Muslim video demonstration, and that all reporting from Libya, from the first phone call, claimed a terror attack was underway.

    Nordstrom was equally blunt that the State Department willfully understaffed security in Benghazi, and ignored evidence that the Consulate was vulnerable.

    Hicks, Nordstrom and the third witness, Mark Thompson, came off as credible, dispassionate and very serious. Meanwhile, while Republicans were accused going in of playing politics, it was the Democratic members of the committee who were shrill, crude and desperate in trying to degrade (as opposed to rebut) the witnesses.

    Most fingers pointed toward Under Secretary of Management Pat Kennedy and Hillary aid Cheryl Mills as acting as Hillary’s proxies to make the bad, tragic, decisions. Long-term fallout unclear, but a lot of angry people in Foggy Bottom right now. The State Department was portrayed as disorganized, and often far more concerned about political impressions than the safety of its people and informing the American public.

    A decent summary of what was said, from CNN.

    I live-Tweeted most of the hearing. Search Twitter for @wemeantwell or #Benghazi to review.



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  • Recent Comments

    • John Poole said...

      1

      This could have been the Waterloo moment of the Obama administration but not in these times. Again, most Americans are only concerned whether their cable hookup is working properly. Pitch could riff on that subject convincingly.

      05/9/13 12:11 AM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      2

      “The State Department was portrayed as disorganized, and often far more concerned about political impressions than the safety of its people and informing the American public.”

      Yes, thank you. In addition, retaliation is a “protected” activity at State. This is a serious problem that must be addressed. It is with great irony there is a Bureau whose work includes covering workers’ rights globally – Democracy, Human Rights and Labour. Meanwhile, within the bureacracy, the main HR looks the other way or actively supports corrupt HR offices and officials’ ability to conduct retaliation against State’s own employees who deign raise serious issues of concern. As a ECA Bureau human resources staffer stated without concern for how terrible it sounded and in the presence of a State Department union representative, it isnt about what is right or wrong, it’s about what the supervisor deems.

      State officials need to be reminded retaliation IS illegal and need to abide by US laws. It is time to stop rewarding and condoning retaliatory practices at the State Department

      05/9/13 1:20 AM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      3

      State doesnt care about its employees, and protects supervisory officials who throw their staff under a bus while trying to save their own career. These guilty supervisory officials are chickens and gutless.

      The hierarchy at State is a huge part of the problem and how the system is used by one class of higher ups to protect their own, while sacrificing the careers of innocent staff. Reform is urgently needed at State

      05/9/13 2:47 AM | Comment Link

    • JVC said...

      4

      What’s going on @ State is going on writ large in my agency as well. I’m probably the only employee from my department that read “We Meant Well” and reads this blog. This is too bad as it can lead to individuals believing the problems are unique to their agency/department, etc. I can tell you, so far as any anonymous contributor can, that what I undergo on a daily baisi is identical to the sorts of things I read here & saw exposed in the course of the Bengazi inquiry. Most disturbing is the willingness of federal managers to sacrifice public and/or employee safety in the interest of maintaining fiefdoms, etc. I don’t think this situation is forever or endemic to the federal service but rather something that evolved over time… The further we’ve come from 1787 the further we’ve come from the intent of the founders and framers which was, in my opinion, to visit upon humanity, ultimately, and the citizens of the USA, the greatest amount of freedom and liberty ever experienced by Mankind. The behavior of today’s federal managers and bureacrats is inimical to this idea. And it will not last. Aside from the actions we as federal employees, whistleblowers, etc., may take, the days where the US could act as world hegemon are now over and the ancillary effect of this condition will be to increasingly establish a realization in the federal government that it is, in fact, not the end-all, be-all of the human experience…it can barely pay it’s bills. I take some solace from this. There is humilty in decline and our collapsbe may indeed be our redemption. I’m just hanging around to watch some GS-14 heads role.

      05/9/13 4:48 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      5

      “I don’t think this situation is forever or endemic to the federal service but rather something that evolved over time… The further we’ve come from 1787 the further we’ve come from the intent of the founders and framers which was, in my opinion, to visit upon humanity, ultimately, and the citizens of the USA, the greatest amount of freedom and liberty ever experienced by Mankind..”

      This problem has been awhile in the making, not the fault of one administration. It may stem from weak regulations (the never implement kind) and cultural problems where egos run amuck and labour laws scoffed openly. Its fixable, but the will is not there yet

      I’m sorry to hear of your situation. If it’s a safety matter, you might want to consider gathering the documents that provide evidence of who is doing the wrong doing and contact a congressional staffer, sending them a fed ex copy so you have a record it was sent. I think, and you can check with Peter on this, if you send items to a Congressperson, you could qualify for whistleblower status if retaliation occurs — but check with someone knowledgable first.

      Meanwhile if you can transfer out of that crazyness, pull out the stops to go somewhere better. There are good management officials and move to their office, don’t endure what’s not necessary. Good luck there.

      05/9/13 6:53 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      6

      Ah, i meant to say a great quote. Copying, erm, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery lol

      05/9/13 6:54 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      7

      “It’s not the military’s job to protect diplomats; it’s the host government’s. But in the absence of a real government, we NEVER asked the question, ‘So how do we do this?’ – some high-ranking idiot in the US military

      “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Martin Luther King

      05/9/13 11:19 PM | Comment Link

    • tom schmitz said...

      8

      Amb. Stevens and his senior leadership — like Hicks who was his number two and has been identified as a self-described whistleblower — are the ones more responsible than any other govt. official(s) for what happened in Benghazi — it’s troubling to me that the media, congress etc. all paint them as the victims….in the military the CO and the on the ground chain-of-command take responsibility — having spent considerable time in both organizations, I say with some basis, to it’s detriment, the leadership culture in State doesn’t work that way – but, it should – and if it did there would probably be less chance of a future Benghazi.

      05/10/13 12:02 AM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      9

      Sheesh, you have to ask who that person knew to get their position if they say these things.

      The high ranking idiots are usually political appointees or their minions who are drawn into the government through the manipulation of USA Jobs. Political appointees should be done away with. They make terrible decisions and get protected for it. That is such an elephant in the china shop

      05/10/13 12:05 AM | Comment Link

    • JVC said...

      10

      Kyzl,
      I appreciate your comments. The issues I am facing are a complexity of entanglement… People, policies, competing divisions within the same agency, etc. There are also a lot of good people in the mix as you mention. Congressional intervention is definitely in the playing cards. When the problem lies in the structure of the organization itself it becomes especially tricky. An analogy in the parlance of State might be of the DSS who are charged with security provision in places where there is no security. I would not wish to be a DSS officer in large swaths of the developing world. Love this blog!

      05/10/13 4:02 AM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      11

      @ JVC, If transfer is an option, it could be the way to go. It’s ironic with all the great executive and MBA programs in our country, leadership is utterly lacking in much of the bureaucracies. Part of the problem i think is our culture has gotten too competitive and people are unable to cooperate and get things done. Wish there was a way to send people back to the sandbox. Yes poor DSS. Its either that or they are busy being used to pull people’s clearances over nonsecurity matters like HR issues, especially for staff who raise workplace concerns

      @ Tom Schmitz, well State tried blaming, erm, highlighting that Ambassador Stevens was to blame, taking advantage of the situation disgracefully, until supposedly his diary was found in the rubble there at the compound and it came out he too had asked for more security, but was denied, so that quieted State’s game. Leadership at State is complicated and dysfunctional, there are some good leaders but too many spineless and devious ones who neutralize the good ones.

      They are too busy undermining each other and throwing staff under the bus when the heat gets too close to them. The latest thing if I heard right is Hicks asked for an evacuation plane from the pentagon?? Not sure if that is right but was told no. I dont understand why such a request would be refused and if that is the case, it doesnt say much for the leadership whereever he contacted either. The CIA is not exactly smelling like roses in this. They should really be put on the hot seat, the way the whole operation was run. They didnt seem to be gathering as much information on the surrounding groups, as those groups were gathering on the CIA

      05/11/13 4:52 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      12

      SPECULATION: The CIA was involved in their usual dirty stuff in Benghazi and it blew up in their faces. Obama and Clinton knew about the CIA operations. The attack was blowback but not just because of our meddling via regime change. We were there trying to show the various thugs how “bad” we could be thinking that such macho posturing would make it safe to occupy Libya for a long time. Having a career diplomat who saw himself as Lawrence of Libya in Benghazi was folly on his part and State’s part. You don’t try to out tough a tough guy in his own neighborhood. It took NATO months of heavy bombing which most likely killed as many as Qaddafi threatened to kill. “Days, not weeks”. That is Obama’s botched legacy in my opinion.

      05/11/13 2:57 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      13

      “Having a career diplomat who saw himself as Lawrence of Libya in Benghazi was folly on his part and State’s part. You don’t try to out tough a tough guy in his own neighborhood.”

      Or at least, dont arm the tough guy lol if you are really there for the oil or are less than 50% sure about the party receiving the weaponry might not be such a good idea to hand out the arms, but politics makes for strange bedmates. Someone needs to invent an over-the-counter pill for such political entanglements lol. Give the world a break

      If Stevens did entertain notions of a TE Lawrence, harsh reality fixed that. Too many in our system for some reason want to be TE Lawrence. From a regional perspective in the Arab world, TE Lawrence is despised, a duplicitous sell out who lied to achieve British objectives.

      He had to have an unenviable mission all around. Them the reporting on Stevens from State’s view was disturbing and shameful. First Stevens was presented as someone with connections and special skills sent to Libya, than as the muck hit the fan, an effort was made to smear him and then State had to backtrack when Stevens’ diary was found and was mentioned even his request for more security was denied. That says alot if an ambassador is turned down. Says even more if the ambassador is killed and his own agency tries to smear him after singing praises a day earlier.

      Its a cruel irony the Libyans gave Stevens more help in his final moments than his own agency. At least they carried his body. Would be interesting to know who in State was involved in the brief smear effort trying to pin the tail on Stevens. It’s the default mode in State’s hierarchy,find a sacrificial lamb.

      Not sure how the CIA can do what they are supposed to do if their agents dont even speak the local languages. Its a salary.

      05/11/13 11:02 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      14

      *At least they (the Libyans) carried Stevens body

      05/11/13 11:03 PM | Comment Link

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