Statement Regarding Democrats' Latest Distortion
Washington, D.C. — Select Committee on Benghazi Press Secretary Matt Wolking released the following statement regarding Committee Democrats' latest distortion:
“Democrats are the only ones who ask witnesses about conspiracy theories, so it’s no surprise they continue to be dishonest and take things out of context in order to knock down their own straw men. Chairman Gowdy said nothing new today, despite Democrats’ distortions. This is simply an attempt by Democrats to distract from The Washington Post Fact Checker debunking another one of their false claims today. Benghazi Committee Republicans are conducting serious congressional oversight and a thorough investigation focused on the facts, not proving predetermined political conclusions. If only Democrats were interested in doing the same.”
Here is Chairman Gowdy’s full exchange on Fox News earlier today, which Democrats are attempting to cherry-pick:
FOX NEWS: There’s a report that’s floating out there that says your attorney general [sic] Dana Chipman said from the beginning that nothing could be done to save the four Americans in Benghazi in September of 2012. Is that true?
CHAIRMAN GOWDY: No, sir. Dana Chipman is an honorable, good man. He served this country with great distinction, and he served our committee with great distinction. That was a transcript from one question he asked to Leon Panetta and Jeremy Bash. When you see the full transcript – and you will – then you will see what Dana was talking about was a very small point. The posture of the troops, the order that was given by Panetta and the President, how that order was received. All of that is what we want to ask people about. Whether or not they could have gotten there in time, I don't think there is any issue with respect to that. They couldn’t. The next question is, why could you not? Why were you not positioned to do it? So Dana is a wonderful person, he served the committee with great distinction, and the country. They did him a real disservice when they selectively leaked part of his questioning.
As Chairman Gowdy said last week, “The committee has not interviewed these individuals [who have made public allegations] and therefore cannot vouch for the credibility of their allegations. I can promise these witnesses and others, if they talk to our committee they will be treated fairly .… Democrats may be content to stick to their preordained conclusions, but the committee has an obligation to determine what can and cannot be substantiated when it comes to the new witnesses we have interviewed and the new evidence we have gathered.”
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Dana Chipman said yesterday, “I agree with Chairman Gowdy. If some witnesses refer the committee to other witnesses, the responsible thing to do is interview them. The committee has an obligation to the American people to determine what can and cannot be substantiated, so if an individual makes public allegations about Benghazi, the committee should interview that person.”
Back in January, Chairman Gowdy said, “Number one, were there assets in the region that could have reached Benghazi in time for the second attack? I don't think there's any argument the ambassador and Sean Smith, who died due to smoke inhalation – the only folks who could have gotten there in time, were the GRS heroes who did go, but there were no assets that could have gotten there. The second attack, the one where we lost Glen Doherty and Ty Woods, that is an eminently fair question, but there are two questions. Number one, did we have assets in the region that could have responded? But an equally important question is, if the answer to that question is no, why not? With the Arab Spring, on the anniversary of 9/11, with Cairo having just taken place hours before, why were no assets moving toward that region?”
Also in January, Chairman Gowdy said, “When we issue our report, and hopefully, it is coming sooner rather than later, I think that part of our investigation is going to be the most eye-opening, the most surprising, and frankly, will dwarf the other two tranches of Benghazi in terms of what we have been able to find. So you put your finger on a couple of the issues. Number one, how were the assets positioned? If they were not positioned in such a way as to respond to Libya, Tripoli or Benghazi within the time frame, why not, particularly on the anniversary of 9/11 with, frankly, with Cairo having just happened? Why would your assets not be moving after Cairo? But there’s a third part to this, which is if the President did say do everything you can, and Secretary Panetta communicated that order to his command staff, do everything you can, both of those communications took place before 7PM Eastern time. Why did the first wheel not take off for hours and hours and hours? That is the part that we are getting at, that I would submit to you the other committees did not, and I think you’re going to be surprised at that part of our report.”
Chairman Gowdy also said last week, “The State Department is not in the chain of command. … The chain of command, as I understand it, is President of the United States to the Secretary of Defense, and then that order goes out to his command staff. Now, this is where it’s interesting. We know what the President said to Secretary Panetta, and Secretary Panetta was incredibly clear to our committee, because I did that questioning myself, just to remove any ambiguities – incredibly clear about what he said. So what we need to find out is, OK, what did you say? What did the others hear? And most importantly, we need to understand the time it took from your order, to the reception of the order, to the action on the order. But unless somebody knows something I don’t know, the State Department is not in our military chain of command.”
In October 2015, Chairman Gowdy was asked if there was "any new information about whether there could have been a chance to rescue on that night?" He responded: "Yes sir. There's more information on our military preparedness and our inability/ability to respond. Some of that information I'm not able to give you publicly. I would just tell you this, we have new information in all three tranches of [what happened in] Libya," before, during, and after the attacks.