by MATTHEW BOYLE
Three family members of the victims of the Benghazi terrorist attack and scores of conservative and military leaders are kicking off 2014 by demanding that House Speaker John Boehner install a select committee, Breitbart News has learned exclusively.
U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, and security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed during the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012.
In the letter to Boehner, which was delivered on early Monday afternoon and provided exclusively to Breitbart News, Sean Smith’s mother, Pat Smith, and uncle, Michael Ingmire, along with Tyrone Woods’ father, Charles Woods, joined the call for a select committee to investigate the Benghazi scandal. Other notable signers include former Rep. Allen West (R-FL), conservative leader Ginni Thomas of Liberty Consulting, Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton, retired Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, Freedom Center president David Horowitz, and scores of other military and conservative movement leaders.
“We write to express our grave concern over the failure of your House of Representatives to extract the truth from the Obama administration concerning the attack on our diplomatic and intelligence facilities in Benghazi, Libya; and, the brutal deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stephens, U.S. Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, and security officers Ty Woods and Glen Doherty,” the coalition wrote to Boehner.
Specifically, a House select committee on Benghazi would be similar to the Watergate select committee formed in the U.S. Senate during the scandal that took down President Richard Nixon. It would be a focused committee with members from both the Democrat and Republican parties and staffed with the proper resources to conduct a thorough investigation of the matter. Thus far, Boehner has had five separate House committees investigating the matter that have not succeeded. He has also publicly opposed the creation of a select committee, saying he does not think it is necessary.
There is currently a bill in the House of Representatives, H. Res 36 from Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), that would create such a committee. It has, including Wolf, 179 cosponsors according to the Library of Congress, well more than the majority of the House GOP majority–which is 232 Republican members strong. Yet, despite the overwhelming support from the House GOP conference, Boehner continues to refuse to allow a vote on the installation of a select committee to investigate the Benghazi scandal and continues to block efforts to bring the bill forward.
Now that this new coalition is stepping forward, Boehner may end up facing enough pressure to force him to create the committee.
The letter’s signers are demanding Boehner install a select committee to investigate what happened. They argue that Boehner’s unwillingness to create an official investigative body has benefitted President Barack Obama’s administration, as it has taken advantage of the lack of focus in House investigations.
“To date, five (5) different committees of the House have conducted separate hearings, uncovering information in a piecemeal fashion lacking professional investigators,” the coalition wrote to Boehner. “The five committees’ efforts are disjointed and uncoordinated. The Obama administration has benefited from that dysfunctional process to hide the truth.”
“Hardly any Obama administration witnesses have testified – publicly or privately,” they continued. “You have resisted repeated calls for the creation of a select investigative committee with subpoena authority. It appears that you are satisfied to allow that state of investigative incoherence and ambiguity to continue. The last public hearing by any of the five committees was held in September – four (4) months ago.”
“The families of the dead who fought valiantly to protect the mission and their families, the survivors, and the American people deserve better from you and your Members of Congress,” the letter explained. “They deserve the absolute truth from their government. Your failure to get the truth and hold public officials accountable increases the possibility of other repeat attacks and additional failures to defend Americans abroad.”
The coalition argues that Boehner’s idling through the investigative process has led to things like a recent New York Times story which claimed that al Qaeda terrorists were not involved in the attack but that the attack was sparked by the YouTube video.
“On Sunday, December 29, 2013, the New York Times published a story concerning the Benghazi attacks that directly contradicts the sworn testimony of witnesses who appeared before various committees,” they wrote. “Besides the obvious New York Times editorial and political objectives of inoculating Hillary Clinton and her 2016 presidential campaign from further criticism of her failures as Secretary of State, the story contradicts objective truth and established facts in a way that confuses the public.”
“Your inaction and failure to lead on the Benghazi investigation directly contributes to the repetition of lies; a lack of accountability from responsible government officials; and the political advancement of persons who seek to continue to ‘fundamentally transform’ the Constitution and our country,” they accused. “The New York Times recent publication proves the Benghazi story is not ‘going away.’”
The group further argues that while Ahmed Abu Khattala, “a ringleader of the attack,” has “granted long interviews to reporters in Benghazi cafes,” the Obama administration’s federal law enforcement agencies have “done nothing.” Because of Boehner’s lack of willingness to aggressively investigate the terrorist attack, the coalition argues that no one has been held accountable. “Nearly 16 months after the terrorist attack, the American public has no accountability and no plan of action from House leadership,” they wrote. “The public is subjected to undisputed disinformation from a White House who calls the terror attack a ‘phony scandal.’”
“While the White House repeats false and misleading information, you continue to ignore claims, documented by Rep. Frank Wolf, of intelligence officers being intimidated with multiple, punitive polygraph examinations and harassing non-disclosure agreement demands,” they claimed. “If Benghazi is ‘phony’ why are intelligence officers being threatened not to speak and subjected to polygraph exams? Why do you stand by passively?”
The coalition also questioned whether Boehner is holding up the investigation because he may be culpable for knowing certain pieces of information about the scandal. As Speaker of the House, Boehner is a member of what is called the “Super 8” in Congress. Other members include House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV); Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY); House Intelligence Committee Chairman and ranking member Reps. Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), respectively; and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and ranking member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). Because of their seniority in Congress, the “Super 8” gets briefed on intelligence matters in a much more intensive manner than other members.
The coalition questions whether Boehner has “guilty knowledge” on Benghazi because of that, and wonders whether a complete investigation into Benghazi would jeopardize Boehner’s political future as Speaker of the House.
“Some analysts believe your inaction and passivity towards getting to the truth concerning Benghazi is because you were briefed on the intelligence and special operations activities in Libya as a member of the ‘Super 8,’” they wrote. “You may possess ‘guilty knowledge.’ We recall how then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi developed a form of ‘amnesia’ concerning a documented briefing she received on so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ – later termed ‘torture’ for political purposes.”
“Are you in the same position as your predecessor?” they asked. “Are you dodging a legitimate, thorough, coordinated investigation of Benghazi because it will damage your political position as Speaker?”
The coalition noted because no select committee with subpoena power has been installed, some members of the House GOP conference have taken to submitting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to attempt to get information about Benghazi out of the administration. “You should be embarrassed that members of Congress, and your own party, are forced to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with Obama administration agencies to get basic information about the Benghazi issue,” the coalition wrote to Boehner.
“What a sad and pathetic statement about the operations of House standing committees looking into this tragedy that FOIA has become the last resort of even Republican Members seeking the truth!” the letter stated. “Are you concerned that the scattershot and untimely efforts of the various committees may actually be doing more harm than good at documenting facts? These are all examples of Republican leadership failures. How are you accountable?”
The coalition continued by criticizing the efforts of Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and one of Boehner’s right-hand men: “Rep. Mike Rogers and the Intelligence Committee seem to act as defense counsel for the Obama administration,” the coalition wrote. “A recent Intelligence Committee weekly update note stated as fact that no arms shipments were being run from Libya, and that no intelligence officers were being coerced not to speak. There is substantial evidence to the contrary on both counts.”
“Why does Rep. Rogers parrot the discredited falsehoods of the so-called ‘Accountability Review Board’ (ARB)?” they accused. “Conflicting accounts, testimony and evidence need to be investigated – not dismissed or ignored. Don’t those contradictions and questions compel you, on behalf of the American people, to take any action to resolve the matter and get to the truth?”
The group asked Boehner why there “was thundering silence” from his office when Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) sent him a letter on Nov. 6 outlining outstanding unanswered questions about the scandal. “You have an opportunity to show strong leadership and resolve a national disgrace perpetrated by specific public officials,” they wrote. “You are failing.”
“Your reluctance to lead and resistance to create a Select Committee on Benghazi must end,” they wrote. “More than 75% of all House Republicans – with the conspicuous absence of those in leadership or committee chairmen – have cosponsored Rep. Wolf’s Select Committee bill. Few bills in this Congress demonstrate such overwhelming support from Republicans.”
“Additionally, the bill enjoys the support of national security advocacy groups, and the Wall Street Journal editorial board, among many others,” they noted. “We urge you to bring the bill to the floor for a vote immediately to start effective oversight on this critical national security matter immediately. We have waited long enough. Your approach is not working.”
Specifically, the coalition demands that the select committee must complete its investigation before the end of the 113th Congress, which concludes at the end of 2014.
“Mr. Speaker, we call upon you to act now and create a Select Committee on Benghazi to investigate all aspects of the United States involvement in Libya, to include, but not be limited to the attacks of September 11, 2012,” they wrote. “It must now also include the protracted cover-up the American people, the families of the fallen and those with loved ones serving overseas have endured.”
“The new committee must have subpoena power, capable staff and Members from both parties who are committed to finding the truth, not playing politics,” the letter continued. “The Committee must be staffed with new, professional, qualified and experienced investigators. It must have resources to conduct a thorough, comprehensive investigation and issue an exhaustive report before this Congress adjourns.”
Click here for a full list of coalition signers.