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As terrorists armed with AK-47's and grenades were raining fire on the compound in Benghazi with American citizens trapped inside, U.S. Special Forces were told to stand down. That is the account from diplomat Gregory Hicks, about the attack that killed his friend and boss U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Three State Department witnesses said they were frustrated and angry with the response to the siege during testimony in front of the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. The attack happened on then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's watch. The man who replaced her, John Kerry, said Thursday he is ready to answer any questions.
"I am absolutely determined that this issue will be answered, will be put to bed. And if there is any culpability in any area that is appropriate to be handled in some way, with some discipline, it will be appropriately handled," Kerry said.
The co-chair of the State Department's review board on Benghazi, former Ambassador Thomas Pickering, disputed claims that the military could have done more.
"Despite the fact that we have the world's best military, they were neither postured nor placed in a way that could have made a significant difference," Pickering told CNN on Wednesday. "It's regrettable, but it is truth and it is honesty."
Republicans do not appear willing to let go of the idea that more could have been done.
The legitimate question that has not received a lot of attention is: "Why is the military not in a posture, in today's day and age, to help Americans in tough situations, in tough places like Libya?" said CNN's chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash. The military and State Department have implemented changes to update that situation.
Congress continues to press for answers about the planes that did not get to Benghazi on time and the four special operations personnel that did not come. The House Armed Services chair received a letter Wednesday denying him access to the classified timeline about the orders that were made and the reasoning behind them.
"One thing they do want the answer to is who exactly, what is the name of the person who told those four special ops personnel, 'You know what, don't go from Tripoli to Benghazi, stay here.' Who's the person who did that, and why did they do it," Bash said.
That is just one of the many answers Congress seeks, says Bash, because they want to address the bigger question, which is whether the military is in the right posture globally.