The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank caught an interesting tidbit from yesterday’s House hearing on the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya last month. The GOP — having spent months railing against the Obama administration for allegedly leaking classified information — yesterday revealed classified information. “When House Republicans called a hearing in the middle of their long recess, you knew it would be something big,” Milbank reports today, “and indeed it was: They accidentally blew the CIA’s cover.”
Accompanying the State Department officials’ testimony was an areal photo of the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, which one of the officials said was “entirely unclassified.” That is until Rep. Jason Chaffez (R-UT) interrupted testimony to point out that the photo contained secret information. Milbank explains:
In their questioning and in the public testimony they invited, the lawmakers managed to disclose, without ever mentioning Langley directly, that there was a seven-member “rapid response force” in the compound [in Benghazi] the State Department was calling an annex. One of the State Department security officials was forced to acknowledge that “not necessarily all of the security people” at the Benghazi compounds “fell under my direct operational control.”
And whose control might they have fallen under? Well, presumably it’s the “other government agency” or “other government entity” the lawmakers and witnesses referred to; Issa informed the public that this agency was not the FBI.
“Other government agency,” or “OGA,” is a common euphemism in Washington for the CIA. This “other government agency,” the lawmakers’ questioning further revealed, was in possession of a video of the attack but wasn’t releasing it because it was undergoing “an investigative process.”
Milbank noted that the New York Times had previously reported that CIA operatives had been evacuated as a result of the attack, but the paper “withheld locations and details of the facilities at the administration’s request.”
Minutes after Chaffetz’s outburst, committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) ordered the photo be taken down. “Too bad he didn’t think of that before putting the CIA on C-SPAN,” Milbank said.