Three State Department 'whistleblowers' to testify next week on Benghazi

Three State Department officials described by Republicans as “whistleblowers” with damning insider knowledge about the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi will testify next week.

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The House Oversight Committee identified the three witnesses as Gregory Hicks, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli during the attack; Mark Thompson, the deputy coordinator for operations in the agency’s Counterterrorism Bureau; and Eric Nordstrom, a diplomatic security officer who was the top security officer in the country in the months leading up to the attacks.

They are expected to testify before Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-Calif.) panel on Wednesday.

“I applaud these individuals for answering our call to testify in front of the Committee,” Issa said in a statement. “They have critical information about what occurred before, during, and after the Benghazi terrorist attacks that differs on key points from what Administration officials – including those on the Accountability Review Board – have portrayed.”

“Our committee has been contacted by numerous other individuals who have direct knowledge of the Benghazi terrorist attack, but are not yet prepared to testify,” he added. “In many cases their principal reticence of appearing in public is their concern of retaliation at the hands of their respective employers. While we may yet add additional witnesses, this panel will certainly answer some questions and leave us with many new ones.”

Nordstrom offered some of the most pointed criticism of the security deficiencies in Libya when he testified before Issa's committee last year that State Department officials in Washington denied repeated requests for more protection for the mission. The other two officials have not been heard from publicly before.

“The takeaway … for me and my staff, was abundantly clear — we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident,” Nordstrom testified in October. “And the question that we would ask is: How thin does the ice have to get before someone falls through?”

"For me,” he said, “the Taliban is on the inside of the [State Department].”

The hearing comes as House Republicans are refocusing their attention on the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans amid calls by more than half the Republican Conference to create a select committee to investigate the Obama administration's actions before, during and after the events of last Sept. 11. House Republicans say the Obama administration has threatened whistleblowers with retaliation and prevented them from coming forward, something the State Department has strongly denied.

An independent State Department review of the attack faulted Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBroadway play 'Hillary and Clinton' closing early due to low ticket sales Broadway play 'Hillary and Clinton' closing early due to low ticket sales Facing challenge from Warren, Sanders touts strength against Trump MORE's State Department for “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies.” It did not recommend anybody be fired, however, because it “did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his or her duty.”