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COMMENTARY: House select committee to investigate attacks on CIA in Benghazi

By Raymond Thomas Pronk
On May 14, 2014

  • Four Americans killed in Benghazi terrorist attack. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, CIA security contractors and former Navy Seals Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.


In the case of the Benghazi terrorist attacks that seriously wounded many and killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three State Department and Central Intelligence Agency employees, was the Obama administration simply bureaucratically incompetent or were they guilty of criminal dereliction of duty, fraud, negligence and obstruction of justice?

Some American people are demanding answers and justice for those wounded and killed. On May 8, the House of Representatives voted largely along party lines to establish a select committee to investigate the Benghazi attacks and the actions taken before and after the attack by President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others in the White House, Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The vote was 232 in favor and 186 opposed.

 On May 5, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) named Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to lead the select committee Benghazi investigation. Gowdy was most likely picked because he was a former district attorney and federal prosecutor and is knowledgeable about Benghazi. He is a second-term Congressman who serves on the House Oversight Committee chaired by Darrel Issa. This committee has been investigating both the Benghazi and IRS scandals.

On May 1 the Oversight Committee heard the testimony of retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell who served as deputy intelligence director at the U.S. Africa Command in Germany (AFRICOM) and was on duty the night of the Benghazi attack.  Lovell said, "There are accounts of time, space and capability discussions of the question, could we have gotten there in time to make a difference. Well, the discussion is not in the 'could or could not' in relation to time, space and capability-the point is we should have tried. As another saying goes: 'Always move to the sound of the guns'."

Lovell testified that "we didn't know how long this would last when we became aware of the distress nor did we completely understand what we had in front of us, be it a kidnapping, rescue, recovery, protracted hostile engagement or any or all of the above. But what we did know quite early on was that this was a hostile action. This was no demonstration gone terribly awry."

In the days, weeks and months following the Benghazi attacks, Obama, Clinton, United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice and presidential press secretary Jay Carney repeatedly misled and lied to the American people. They claimed that a spontaneous protest caused by a hateful video directly lead to the Benghazi terrorist attacks by Islamic fanatics on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.

Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, followed by a lawsuit against the Department of State in October 2012 to gain access to Benghazi documents concerning the talking points used by Rice. She used these talking points on the Sunday news shows of ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News and CNN on Sept. 16. 2012. Rice, echoing earlier statements of Clinton and Obama, blamed Benghazi on a hateful video and not on a planned and well executed terrorist attack.

Finally on April 18, Judicial Watch obtained 41 Benghazi-related State Department documents including an email sent by then White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes to other Obama administration public relations officials. Rhodes email had the subject line: "RE: PREP CALL with Susan, Saturday at 4:00 pm ET." The email lists a goal is "to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy."

However, another document Judicial Watch obtained was an email dated Sept. 12, 2012, from former Deputy Spokesman at U.S. Mission to the United Nations Payton Knopf to Rice noting that State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland stated that the attack on the consulate had been well planned.

The Rhodes email has been characterized by Judicial Watch as the Benghazi smoking gun for the Obama White House, "without a shadow of doubt - lying and misleading the American people."

Charles Kruthammer of the Fox News Channel said "We now have the smoking document, which is the White House saying, 'We're pushing the video because we don't want to blame it on the failure of our policies'."

House Speaker John Boehner had been resisting calls by more than 190 Republican members of Congress to establish a select committee. However after the release of the Judicial Watch documents including the Rhodes email, he reversed himself, saying he was tired of "continued obstruction" by the White House.

During late summer and early fall, C-Span and the television networks should be covering the select committee on the Benghazi investigation to discover the truth and answer the many questions still remaining. This select committee will be compared to the Watergate committee that investigated the break-in of the Democratic Party National Headquarters in the Watergate apartment and office complex in Washington. The findings of this investigative committee led ultimately to the resignation of Republican President Richard Nixon on Aug. 9, 1974, to avoid impeachment.

The select committee hearings will impact the November elections. Many members of the armed forces, their families and veterans want to know why the president did not give orders to various military commanders to try to rescue and support the State Department and CIA employees under attack for many hours at both the diplomatic facility and CIA annex?

Why has not a single terrorist been arrested or brought to justice? Why was the CIA in Benghazi? Was the CIA shipping arms including shoulder mounted surface-to-air missiles that can shoot down airliners as well as military aircraft to rebels affiliated with Al Qaeda in both Libya and Syria? These and many more questions still remain unanswered. Hopefully, the select committee will provide the answers and broadcast them live on television to the American people in the coming months.

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