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Yesterday marked six months from the date that four Americans were killed in a terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, the first American ambassador murdered in the line of duty in 33 years. While the Obama administration begrudgingly cooperated with Congressional panels looking into the attack and the White House response by sending officials to testify, one group still has not yet been made available. CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson wonders — where are the survivors?
Today marks six months since the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya in which four Americans were killed, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Some watchdog groups, members of the media and Republican members of Congress are asking: Where are the more than two dozen U.S. personnel who survived the attack but haven’t been seen nor heard from in public since? There were also an undisclosed number of witnesses at the U.S. compounds in Tripoli but they also have not spoken publicly.
In a recent press report, Secretary of State John Kerry said he visited one survivor at “Bethesda hospital,” and referred to him a “remarkably courageous person who is doing very, very well.” Kerry added, “I’ve called his wife and talked to her.” But the identities, condition and testimony of the survivors and witnesses have been closely held from the public.
Republicans demanded more information about Benghazi in recent weeks before they would agree to allow Obama Administration nominees to move forward in the Senate. A source familiar with material turned over to the Senate Intelligence Committee by the Obama Administration in response tells CBS News that long sought-after FBI transcripts of some survivors were included but had been “blacked out” or redacted. Three Senate Republicans including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., say they want the survivors to be made available for interviews about what happened the night of the attacks.
Attkisson isn’t exactly impressed with the transparency of the Obama administration in other areas of this issue, either:
At a press conference on November 14, 2012, President Obama stated that his administration has provided all information regarding “what happened in Benghazi.” Yet, when CBS News asked for White House photos from the night of the attacks, surveillance video that was promised last November, and answers to outstanding questions, a White House official told us that there would be no further comment.
CBS News has filed multiple Freedom of Information requests for Benghazi-related material, but none has been provided. Judicial Watch, a watchdog group, is suing the U.S. government in an attempt to receive some of the denied information.
Why keep the information from the public? Remember, the annex to which the consulate personnel initially retreated belonged to the CIA, and their testimony undoubtedly involves sensitive areas. However, that doesn’t explain why the Senate and House panels are not getting access to the survivors and their complete testimony, at least in closed session.
Given the very clear failure of communication and preparation that resulted in the sacking of the consulate and the death of an ambassador, it shouldn’t take six months for Congress to get answers and to demand accountability from the executive branch. Thus far, though, it seems like the White House wants this to be the last word: