Benghazi Coverup2CATHERINE HERRIDGE: Nearly 20 months after the attack, the administration’s explanations about who knew what and when are beginning to unravel in a very public way.

The testimony laid bare uncomfortable facts.

BRIG. GEN. ROBERT LOVELL (RET.): This was a hostile action. This was no demonstration gone terribly awry.

HERRIDGE: Retired Brigadier General Robert Lovell, a deputy intelligence director for the Africa Command testified that seven hours into the Benghazi assault, at their command post in Germany, they knew there was no connection to a protest or an Internet video.

LOVELL: It was early on in the evening of September 11.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA): Before 3:15 in the morning?

LOVELL: Yeah, absolutely.

HERRIDGE: Within hours, sources tell FOX a target list was assembled, and Lovell testified a terrorist group with known ties to al-Qaeda was blamed.

LOVELL: It was — we felt it was Ansar al-Sharia

HERRIDGE: Lovell’s testimony is consistent with the September 12 e-mail from State Department official Beth Jones to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s closest aides, including Cheryl Mills, that the Libyan ambassador was told Ansar al-Sharia was responsible. What has largely been overlooked is that hours earlier at 10:00 p.m. September 11, even before the attack was over, Mrs. Clinton sent out a press release directly linking the video to the Benghazi violence. While Mrs. Clinton statement was out of sync with the intelligence, it was reinforced three days later by the Ben Rhodes e-mail, which critics say attempted to shape the public discussion of a terrorist attack. Lovell testified the State Department did not respond quickly that night.

LOVELL: It’s not what they did in that particular situation. It’s what they didn’t do. They didn’t come forward with stronger requests for action.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R-UT): What was the mood in the room? What was the feeling? Was it to save our people?

LOVELL: It was desperation there to be able to —

CHAFFETZ: It was what?

LOVELL: Desperation there to gain situational awareness and to be able to do something.

HERRIDGE: Lovell was not in the operational chain of command, a point emphasized by one committee Democrat.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): There might be some who, for various and sundry reasons, would like to distort your testimony and suggest that you’re testifying that we could have, should have done a lot more than we did because we had capabilities we simply didn’t utilize. That is not your testimony.

LOVELL: That is not my testimony.

CONNOLLY: Thank you very much, general.

HERRIDGE: But Lovell said repeatedly it’s about the future and rebuilding the trust lost in Benghazi.

LOVELL: We should have done more, and we owe it to the memory of those four people that are fallen.

HERRIDGE: The House speaker issued a statement today that Secretary Kerry should come to the Hill to testify unless more documents are provided in response to those outstanding subpoenas.

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Catherine Herridge is Chief Intelligence correspondent for the Fox News Channel. She earned degrees from both Harvard and Columbia universities.  

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