Joining the Call II: Benghazi Scandal Needs a House Select Committee
(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.
During the course of his career, Walker has worked in Chicago, Washington DC, New York City, and Phoenix. He served as a reporter in Chicago, a press secretary and speechwriter in Washington, and in numerous positions in New York in corporate and financial services communications.
Walker is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.