Joining the Call II: Benghazi Scandal Needs a House Select Committee

| May 9 2013
John Walker

(Editor’s note: John Walker’s piece below reinforces our call from this morning and adds useful information, especially, though not exclusively, on the framework for a select committee set up by Rep. Frank Wolf .)

 

Speaker Boehner Should Take Charge of the Investigation

Now that three State Department officials have recounted what really happened in Benghazi on September 11, it is time for House Speaker John Boehner to appoint a Select Committee to pursue the investigation.

Testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee Wednesday was riveting and revealing. The witnesses told the whole story of September 11 from their perspectives, debunking many falsehoods circulated for months by the Obama administration.

Key testimony revealed that administration officials knew almost immediately that well-armed terrorists coordinated the attack. Testimony also said that the military failed to send aid to the victims of the attack. Finally, it disclosed that the administration’s claim that the attack was a spontaneous demonstration in response to a rogue video was false.

A bipartisan Select Committee would focus the investigation with its own budget, staff, and a clear mission. It would set a strict deadline to complete its work; it would have subpoena power to compel testimony from a wide range of witnesses.

Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) has provided the framework for a select committee to investigate Benghazi. He has been calling for such a committee since late last year and now has 139 House members supporting his proposal (House Resolution 136).

It remains for Speaker Boehner to support the resolution, get it passed by the full House, and quickly form a Select Committee to move the Benghazi investigation forward. Up to now the Speaker has resisted Wolf’s proposal.

The testimony this week was a major development in unraveling the Benghazi scandal. But questions still remain.

“The months since the attacks have been marked by unanswered questions that have brought the Congress and the American people no closer to understanding what happened that day,” Wolf said in a recent statement. “No one has been held accountable and no solutions have been developed to prevent similar attacks in the future. All of this points to the critical need for a comprehensive investigation.”

Wolf’s resolution calls for a 19-member bipartisan panel that would have 90 days to complete an investigation and make recommendations. The committee would be comprised of the chairmen and ranking members of six key House committees plus seven others appointed by the Speaker and the Minority Leader.

The Select Committee’s charter is spelled out in the Wolf resolution. It says the committee shall conduct an investigation of and submit a report to the House on:

  • Any intelligence known to the United States relating to the attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012;
  • Any requests for additional security, or actions taken by federal agencies to improve security at the consulate before the attack;
  • A definitive timetable of the attack;
  • How the relevant agencies and the executive branch responded to the attack and whether appropriate congressional notifications were made;
  • Any improper conduct by officials relating to the attack;
  • Recommendations on what steps Congress and the President should take to prevent future attacks;
  • Any other relevant issues relating to the attack or the response to the attack.

Skeptics will charge that a Select Committee would go over old ground and would fuel the fire of partisan charges. Nevertheless, serious questions remain unanswered.

These questions include who changed the talking points used by UN Ambassador Susan Rice five days after the attack and who refused military assistance during the heat of the battle.

Speaker Boehner has a real opportunity to show leadership and move forward quickly to establish a Select Committee. Only then will the Benghazi investigation proceed with bipartisan support and the prospect of finally finding all the facts.

8 comments
Campbell
Campbell

The key to success in a Select Committee is subpoena power. It is a clear path to truth. John Walker

dleeper47
dleeper47 moderator

Excellent post.  Might the ultimate "Report to the House" point to indictable offenses?  Like lying to Congress?  Abuse of authority?  Gross negligence leading to deaths of Americans?  Attempts to influence a presidential-year election?  Is there already enough material to call for a special prosecutor, independent of Eric Holder, like a Ken-Starr or Patrick-Fitzgerald person?

 

Neither Democrats nor Republicans should allow a travesty like the Benghazi scandal to simply slide away.  If, as citizens, we let that happen, what precedent willl we have set?  What kind of country will we have left?

dleeper47
dleeper47 moderator

 @Campbell So a Select Committee could subpoena the President?  Or Eric Holder? That sounds really powerful.  

 

Would the subpoena targets have to comply?  Subpoena is Latin (I think) for "under penalty," no?  What are the penalties?  Could Holder or Obama be arrested if they don't appear & testify?  Imprisoned?  Awkward, no?

 

What would the next step be?  A special prosecutor?  I wish I knew more about the law for a case like this ... maybe Watergate or Teapot Dome or some other scandal provides some precedent?

Aluminum Foil Hat
Aluminum Foil Hat

 @dleeper47 

 

"Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US"  "Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda link allegations""Bush knew Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction"

June 14, 2002, U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan Suicide bomber kills 12 and injures 51.

February 20, 2003, international diplomatic compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Truck bomb kills 17.

February 28, 2003, U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan Gunmen on motorcycles killed two consulate guards.

July 30, 2004, U.S. embassy in Taskkent, Uzbekistan Suicide bomber kills two.

December 6, 2004, U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Militants stormed and occupied perimeter wall. Five killed, 10 wounded.

March 2, 2006, U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan Suicide car bomber killed four, including a U.S. diplomate directly targeted by the assailants.

September 12, 2006, U.S. embassy in Damascus, Syria Gunmen attacked embassy with grenades, automatic weapons, and a car bomb (though second truck bomb failed to detonate). One killed and 13 wounded.

January 12, 2007, U.S. embassy in Athens, Greece A rocket-propelled grenade was fired at the embassy building. No one was injured.

July 9, 2008, U.S. consulate in Istanbul, Turkey Armed men attacked consulate with pistols and shotguns. Three policemen killed.

March 18, 2008, U.S. embassy in Sana'a, Yemen Mortar attack misses embassy, hits nearby girls' school instead.

September 17, 2008, U.S. embassy in Sana'a, Yemen Militants dressed as policemen attacked the embassy with RPGs, rifles, grenades and car bombs. Six Yemeni soldiers and seven civilians were killed. Sixteen more were injuredYet, Benghazi is the scandal of the century....

 

WesternFreePress
WesternFreePress moderator

 @dleeper47 Yes, that's just the question I ask in the previous post. Letting this slide will embolden the worst and most corrupt among us!

WesternFreePress
WesternFreePress moderator

 @dleeper47  @Campbell If Watergate could bring down Nixon; if Monica Lewinsky could bring about the impeachment of Clinton; Benghazi can certainly be investigated fully. What matters is will.

dleeper47
dleeper47 moderator

 @WesternFreePress  @Aluminum Foil Hat And did any of the atrocities on your list include orders to potential rescuers to "stand down" when there was still time to invervene and save American lives?