A House investigation of last year's Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, got underway Wednesday.
In emotional testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, three key witnesses said they suspected the attack on the diplomatic mission was terrorism from the beginning.
The assault left U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead.
"The committee's labors to uncover what happened prior, during and after the attack matters," Ed Nordstrom, the State Department counterterrorism officer, testified.
"It matters to me personally," he continued. "And it matters to my colleagues at the Department of State. And it matters to the American public, for whom we serve. It matters to the friends and family of, of Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods who were murdered on September 11, 2012."
How damaging will the Benghazi hearings be to the Obama administration? Jordan Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, addressed that issue and more on Newswatch, May 8.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the panel, said Wednesday's testimony shows what really happened before, during and after the Benghazi attacks.
"These witnesses deserved to be heard," Issa said.
Earlier Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., predicted the hearings will be as devastating a scandal as Watergate.
"I think the dam is about to break on Benghazi," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tweeted. "We're going to find a system failure before, during, and after the attacks."
Graham says the investigation will reveal political manipulation in the weeks before the 2012 election and "people asleep at the switch" in the State Department, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
But Democrats call the hearings "politics."
"If it's a fair-minded question of what we could do better (on security), that would benefit us all," Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said.
"But if it's intended to embarrass the president or perhaps Hillary Clinton then it will be damaging no matter who the next secretary of state is or who the next president is," he said.