Nightly News   |  May 06, 2013

New witnesses to testify on Benghazi deaths

House Republicans have released an interview with a diplomat who says when he asked for military help several miles away from the embassy, he was overruled. The Pentagon said today the commandos had to stay and defend the embassy in Tripoli and were not prepared for a combat assault mission. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>> of what happened during the attack never went away. specifically the question of what the u.s. knew, when they knew it, and what they did about it. congress is set to here dramatic new information on this topic later this week. our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell has new details from our washington newsroom tonight. good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. republicans are gearing up for hearings this week with new state department witnesses they say will undercut hillary clinton 's explanation of what went wrong in benghazi . the attack on the benghazi mission started around 9:40 p.m . by 3:00 in the morning ambassador chris stevens and information officer sean smith were dead. two other americans, former navy seals work as contractors didn't die until several mileses away. special forces flew in but couldn't stop the onslaught. he called for military help from four more special forces operatives in tripoli but was over ruled. hicks, a diplomat said, i believe if we had been able to scramble a fighter or aircraft or two over wen geoas quickly as possible after the attack commenced there would not have been a mortar attack on the annex in the morning because i believe the libyans would have split. the pentagon said they had to stay and weren't prepared for a combat assault mission. as for buzzing the benghazi consulate withighter jets to scatter attacker, the closest f-16s were in italy or five hours away. for months there were charges of cover-up. hillary clinton took the blame and pushed back.

>> what difference, at this point, does it make? it is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to ever keep it from happeningagain.

>> reporter: now house republicans say they have witnesses who can ove clinton covered up.

>> it's damaging because it happened on her watch. the important thing is that hillary clinton is no longer secretary of state but there are many people still at state department who were involved in this at the highest levels who continue to keep their jobs.

>> reporter: tonight admiral mike mullen and ambassador tom pickering said we had unfettered access to everyone and everything including all the documentation we needed. our marching orders, they said, were to get to the bottom of what happened and they did. there is an obvious political undercurrent as they take aim at hillary clinton . brian?

>> andrea mitchell in the d.c. newsroomonight. thanks.

>>> the u.s. air force official in charge of sexual assault prevention and response has been