Wolf: Why Is No One Being Held Accountable For What Happened In Benghazi?
Washington, D.C. (January 23, 2014) – Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), author of legislation to create a Select Committee to investigate the Benghazi attack, today wrote a letter to Speaker Boehner alerting him to recent news reports describing how the Obama administration and some members of Congress have sought to blame Ambassador Stevens, who perished in the attack, for the security failures that caused it.
The latest development comes out of an op-ed published in today’s Wall Street Journal written by Stevens’ deputy chief of mission Greg Hicks, who described how the blame should instead be placed on senior Obama administration officials. Hicks was the last person to speak to Ambassador Stevens before his death.
Wolf also cited a recent Washington Post column by Ruth Marcus who described how preventable the attack was and how little accountability has been placed on anyone for the tragedy. He also pointed out the large discrepancy between information in the recently released Senate Intelligence report on Benghazi and the House’s interim report, which was released nearly one year ago.
“You know me well enough to know that my persistence in pursuing answers isn't about politics or a vendetta, it's about the Legislative Branch conducting its most basic responsibility: strong oversight,” Wolf wrote. “To date, we can't honestly say we've fulfilled this Constitutional responsibility with regard to Benghazi.”
Wolf’s measure to establish a House Select Committee on Benghazi, H. Res. 36, presently has 180 cosponsors and has been endorsed by The American Legion, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, respected national security leaders, like former Attorney General Mukasey as well as some of the family members of the Benghazi victims.
For more on Wolf’s work on Benghazi, click here.
The full text of the letter is below.
The Honorable John A. Boehner
Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives
H-232 The Capitol
Dear Mr. Speaker:
You and I have had multiple conversations over the last year about the House's approach to investigating Benghazi. While we have our differences on the House's current approach, I think we can both agree that the current committee investigations, in both the House and the Senate, have not resulted in anyone being held accountable.
Over the last several months, my staff and I have had multiple private conversations with family members of the victims, including some who have never spoken out publicly before. The one thing they all have made clear is that they are very frustrated and disappointed that no one has been held accountable for what happened that night.
In recent days, there have been several pieces published that also point out this absence of accountability. Enclosed is an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal this morning, written by Greg Hicks, the well-respected deputy chief of mission for Ambassador Stevens – and the last person to speak to him the night of September 11, 2012. Mr. Hicks details how the administration and even some in Congress have sought to blame the late ambassador for the security failures, when in fact the blame lies with senior administration officials.
Additionally, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus has written about this issue. In a piece yesterday, Marcus wrote of Benghazi, "the attack was preventable, yet no one has been disciplined for failing to prevent it. [Sen.] Collins singled out Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, who testified that the threat environment in Benghazi was 'flashing red' yet failed to ensure that a facility he approved there had adequate security. If the State Department were a corporation, heads would have rolled."
Mr. Speaker, there has literally been zero accountability for what happened in Benghazi. No terrorist has been detained or killed. No administration official has been held responsible for the security failures and poor response that night. Don't the families of those killed deserve accountability and justice?
What signal does this send to our men and women in uniform, or in the Foreign Service, or in the Intelligence Community? It's hard not to conclude that there's one set of rules for those who serve their country and another for those who run it. Perhaps the most telling part of the Senate report is in the 'additional views' section, which points out that "important questions remain unanswered as a direct result of the Obama Administration's failure to provide the committee with access to necessary documents and witnesses."
Look at the discrepancies between the House interim report last April and the Senate report released this month. The Senate report – released by Democrat Chairman Dianne Feinstein – raised key new issues and findings that the House committees have never shared before. Why? And speaking of the House's nearly year-old "interim progress report," when will the final report of the committees be published, if ever?
Amazingly, the Senate report raised the critical point that while some in the Department of Defense may have known of the CIA facility, neither AFRICOM nor its Commander "were aware of an annex in Benghazi, Libya." And more importantly, just what was the CIA doing in Benghazi that was so secret that AFRICOM was not made aware of its existence?
You know me well enough to know that my persistence in pursuing answers isn't about politics or a vendetta, it's about the Legislative Branch conducting its most basic responsibility: strong oversight. To date, we can't honestly say we've fulfilled this Constitutional responsibility with regard to Benghazi.
We are never going to get to the bottom of what happened that night until there is a bipartisan House Select Committee that can reach across jurisdictional boundaries, compel public testimony and documents that the administration continues to withhold from the Congress and protect those who may want to testify publicly about the events of that evening. I have always made the case that I believe "iron sharpens iron" and that we need the Members and investigators from each of the five committees working together and sharing all information to ensure a seamless review of all of the facts. Perhaps, if we had such a Select Committee, the recent Senate report would have better represented Mr. Hicks' testimony about the administration's failure to provide adequate security in Benghazi, rather than forcing him to pen an op-ed to correct the record.
That's precisely why I and 180 of our colleagues continue to call for a bipartisan, independent Select Committee to ensure the full truth is learned and accountability is assigned. Aren't these recent disclosures from the Senate Intelligence Committee report and Hicks' op-ed today enough to demonstrate huge gaps in the current investigation and the need for clear accountability? What more will it take?
I couldn't agree more with the final sentence of the 'additional views' section of the Senate report: "The families of those murdered in Benghazi deserve the truth, and all of our intelligence, military, and diplomatic professionals who serve overseas in dangerous places are entitled to have confidence that the errors of Benghazi will not be repeated."
Mr. Speaker, it's past time for a Select Committee. We really do owe it to the families and the American people.
Frank R. Wolf
Member of Congress
PS: The men and women who faithfully serve our nation – and the American people – deserve accountability and transparency.