Frank Wolf: Benghazi Truth Teller to Leave Congress
John Boehner Ignored Wolf’s Call for Select Committee
Only days before he announced his retirement, Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) delivered yet another plea for a House Select Committee to investigate the Benghazi terrorist attacks on September 11, 2012.
Wolf, 74, was first elected from Virginia’s 10th Congressional District in the Reagan landslide in 1980. He is a longtime champion of human rights around the world. Most of all, he is direct in seeking the truth.
Not long after the Benghazi attack, Wolf adopted the issue with determination. Time and again, he took to the House floor to ask question after questions about the attacks that took the lives of four Americans. He never gave up.
Most notable was his call for a Select Committee to investigate the attacks. He garnered more than two thirds of the House Republican conference in support of the call for a committee. The committee would have had its own budget and deadline and subpoena power to compel witness testimony.
A Select Committee is the only way to answer the questions that still swirl around Benghazi. Under Wolf’s proposal, a 19-member panel would include the chairmen and ranking members of the six committees of jurisdiction, plus five members appointed by the Speaker and two appointed by the Minority Leader. The Speaker would appoint the chairman.
Wolf’s proposal has broad support beyond 178 House Republicans, including the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association that represents 26,000 federal law enforcement officers from the Diplomatic Security Service and the FBI as well as U.S. Marshals and agents from the Secret Service and Border Patrol.
Family members of the four Americans murdered on September 11 have endorsed the call for a Select Committee. They have endured months of silence and indignity as the administration continues to ignore their pleas for answers.
Speaker John Boehner stubbornly blocked Wolf’s proposal, preferring to stroke the egos of powerful committee chairmen who refuse to relinquish jurisdiction. Clearly, the truth about Benghazi is not as important as raw congressional power.
Frank Wolf will end a 34-year career at the conclusion of the current Congress. He can be relied upon to continue his call for a thorough investigation of Benghazi until his final day in the House. What remains now are the unanswered questions about Benghazi.
Wolf will leave a distinguished legacy. His greatest mark may be his undeterred call for justice in the still unresolved Benghazi tragedy. Every member of Congress should read his floor speech delivered the week before he announced his resignation. Then they should resolve to act.
Following is the full text of Wolf’s floor speech on December 12, 2013:
Mr. Speaker: Yesterday marked the 15 month anniversary of the Benghazi.
Once again, another anniversary has come and gone with no new answers about what happened that night or just what so many Americans – reportedly around two dozen – were doing at a secret CIA base in Benghazi to begin with. Another anniversary has come and gone with no new public hearings. By my count, the last public hearing was held on September 18 – nearly three months ago – and no new public hearings are scheduled.
But perhaps most important, another anniversary has come and gone with absolutely no one being held responsible for the security and intelligence failures leading up to the attack and no one has been brought to justice. And despite several recent developments relating to the Benghazi investigation, practically nothing has been done in Congress to address them.
First, we’ve recently learned that the CIA Director, John Brennan, distorted the facts in letters to the House Intelligence Committee and me when he claimed that Benghazi survivors were not made to sign new Non Disclosure Agreements.
In another major development, a November 24 article published by Breitbart reported surprising new comments made by Kevin Kolbye, the FBI’s lead investigator for Benghazi, stating for the first time that the FBI arrived on the scene in Benghazi within days – not weeks – of the attacks.
According to the article by Kerry Picket, “The Washington Post reported that while the FBI had agents in Algiers and Cairo, a team of FBI investigators could not get into Benghazi two days after the attack. Kolbye disputes this. ‘We were there,’ he said.”
Is Agent Kolbye correct? Was the FBI secretly on the ground in Benghazi within days of the attack? And if so, why is this being kept from the public? Once again, the Congress doesn’t know; and to my knowledge has never asked Agent Kolbye or other investigators to testify.
Equally important, why is it that we’re learning this from comments before a paying audience at a $400-a-ticket conference rather than in Congressional hearings? It is just like when the American people heard new information about that night from retired General Ham when he appeared a ticketed-event in Apsen, Colorado over the summer.
I guess there is no need to tell Congress in public what happened that night since paying audiences will hear through conferences, books, and maybe even a movie. Finally, I return to my concerns first raised on the House floor in July that the large CIA base in Benghazi may have been used to support covert operations with regard to Syria, including the possible transfer of weapons collected in Libya to Syrian rebels – possibly in coordination with third parties or foreign countries, particularly Saudi Arabia.
These concerns need to be addressed now more than ever after reports yesterday that both the U.S. and United Kingdom have now cut off support to rebels in northern Syria along the Turkish border after the “Islamic Front” – a coalition of jihadi extremist fighters – overran bases run by the Free Syrian Army and seized their weapons and resources.
According to a report from the BBC yesterday, the U.S. and European countries “have reportedly facilitated secret arms shipments” to Syrian rebels, allegedly including anti-aircraft weapons commonly referred to as MANPADS – just like the weapons collected in Libya over the last two years.
A separate Washington Post article yesterday stated, “A covert CIA program providing lethal aid to the rebels, consisting mostly of small arms and ammunition channeled to southern Syria through Jordan, would continue unchanged.”
It is particularly noteworthy that during the same period of time that the CIA base was operating in Benghazi and U.S. weapons collection programs in Libya were underway, respected national security reporter Mark Hosenball wrote on August 1, 2012 that,
“President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, U.S. sources familiar with the matter said. Obama’s order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence ‘finding,’ broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.”
Hosenball continued: “A U.S. government source acknowledged that under provisions of the presidential finding, the United States was collaborating with a secret command center operated by Turkey and its allies,” and “NBC said the shoulder-fired missiles, also known as MANPADs, had been delivered to the rebels via Turkey.”
Are these the same “secret arms shipments” that were just seized by Islamic extremists in northern Syria? Have these or other weapons – transferred with alleged covert U.S. support – been used to kill innocent civilians, including Christians? Don’t the American people have a right to know if their tax dollars are being spent to supply Islamic extremists with weapons used to kill Christians and others in Syria?
It is time for the administration and the Congress to come clean about just what the CIA was doing in Benghazi and elsewhere around Syria.
A Wall Street Journal article from August detailed just how closely Saudi Arabia was working with the CIA to train and arm Syrian rebels, despite some concerns that the weapons could fall in the hands of the extremists.
It appears those concerns are coming true, but the American people still aren’t being told the truth about the U.S. role in arming the Syrians and the role of the CIA base in Benghazi.
It’s time for answers. It’s time for a select committee on Benghazi.
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.