Select Committee Interviews Former Commander of AFRICOM
Washington, D.C. — Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy (SC-04) released the following statement after the committee interviewed retired General Carter Ham, the former commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM):
“I want to thank General Ham for appearing today and acknowledging the seriousness of our investigation and the issues at stake. I wish Ranking Member Cummings and the other Democrats on this committee would do the same. Today we gained a lot of new information, because our questions were based on new documents the witness had not seen, and new witness testimony only gathered by this committee. The question isn't why this committee talked to him after others in Congress did. The real question is why, after previous investigations, there was still so much left to ask about.”
From the start, Democrats on the Benghazi Committee have claimed there was no reason for the committee to do any work. “[A]s Democrats, we always believed that there was no point in putting together this committee because the questions had been asked, the questions had been answered … and there had been a thorough analysis,” said Rep. Adam Smith. This is why the Minority has done nothing but constantly attack, undermine, and obstruct the work of the committee’s Majority.
Part of that effort includes objecting to an interview with retired General Carter Ham, the former commander of U.S. Africa Command. Republicans honored the request of his counsel to keep his interview private and unannounced, but Democrats decided to use him to advance their partisan political agenda and leaked word of his appearance anyway.
It is dishonest for Democrats to claim General Ham made his “ninth appearance before Congress on Benghazi,” because that counts a phone call with two senators and accompanying one congressman in Tripoli the month after the attacks. It is also misleading because they are including meetings with no permanent, official record. A thorough, fact-based investigation requires documentation.
Regardless, the Select Committee on Benghazi has obtained tens of thousands of new pages of documents, and interviewed 79 witnesses who had never before been questioned by Congress. It would be irresponsible for the committee to have gathered new information and failed to ask the commander of AFRICOM at the time of the attacks about it.
The committee asked General Ham about the following issues, among others:
- Conflicts in testimony provided by Vice Admiral Charles Leidig and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta regarding specific authority granted to AFRICOM to deploy forces.
- Conflicts in testimony provided by General Ham and subordinates about whether or not the Predator drones flown over Libya could have been armed.
- Whether assets were stationed at Souda Bay, Crete, and whether they were considered as part of a response.
- What forces General Ham considered putting on higher alert prior to the attacks and why they were not.
- Why it took so long for designated forces to deploy.