Investigating Benghaziby Representative Scott Perry
Posted on 2013-09-12
PERRY. Thank you for yielding, and I want to begin by thanking
our colleague from Virginia (Mr. Wolf) for his leadership with House
It should not have to come to a select and special committee to investigate this, but it's very apparent that the administration operating on point on this is doing everything they can and expending all resources to obfuscate, stonewall, and keep the truth and the facts from the American people.
And so, while we appreciate the fact that there are numerous committees in the House investigating this simultaneously, but individually, one concerted effort is probably what it's going to take, at the end of the day, to answer the call of this administration who would rather this information not be let out to the American people.
I just want to start out by saying that, you know, a year ago, a year ago on this day, Americans were waking up to or hearing about on their lunch hour that the first Ambassador in over 30 years, a United States Ambassador, had been killed on foreign shores.
And as a person who's operated in the military and as just a citizen who thinks that, look, some of this would make common sense, on the anniversary date of such a historic event and shameful event in America, that we would increase our security posture, especially overseas.
And as a person who has served overseas during 9/11, the anniversary of 9/11, I know very well that we did increase our security posture. So the fact that this happened really leads to questions as to what the heck was going on at the State Department regarding the security in Benghazi and who was making decisions.
It's disgraceful that an entire year later, despite the fact that a number of terrorists have been identified who have participated in this attack, not one of them has been brought to justice, not one.
And it's also interesting that this administration has the information, the intelligence information that it has regarding Syria. Yet while we were in Benghazi, while we had boots on the ground in Libya, a year later we don't seem to have the facts about the intelligence that occurred there.
Some questions that I have--it's my understanding that Under Secretary Kennedy will be testifying in front of the Foreign Affairs Committee on which I serve next week, and we have some questions for him.
I think the American people want to know why this administration politicized national security during an election cycle regarding the talking points, and who made that order. Who decided that? Who was at the top of that? The reduction in security forces, again, on 9/11, it's my understanding, with an outpost like Benghazi, that it could only have come from one person. There's only one person in the State Department that is authorized to issue that reduction in security posture, and that is the Secretary.
We want to know whose signature is on the authorization. We want to know who authorized not sending help.
In the military, we don't have a stand down order. But somebody said, no, and somebody didn't contingency plan. Somebody wasn't prepared.
Now, the boots on the ground, the fine soldiers, the airmen, the men and women who would have gone into help, they were ready to go. The United States military was ready to respond. It's the chain of command that wasn't, somewhere along the line. And we want to know who made that decision.
We don't know yet what the Ambassador was doing there. Do we really know? We've asked the question, but we don't know what his purpose was. Sure, we hear that he was there to solidify that location as an operations point for diplomatic actions and show that everything was normal in Libya again. But on 9/11 you're really going to send him there with a reduced security posture? Folks, ladies and gentlemen, these Ambassadors don't roll in a car by themselves out to these outposts. They don't even go to their consulates by themselves. They have a security detachment of highly trained people. The vehicles they ride in are not something that you buy on the lot. These guys are loaded up, and they're ready to handle contingencies.
This is abnormal. What was he doing there? Why does this administration continue to stonewall? You're hearing that they're giving us everything that we ask for, the emails and so on and so forth.
[[Page H5536]] Why is it that the emails come in a box, to a SCIF, a secure location, our people in the Congress, we're allowed to look at them, our investigators are allowed to look at them, transcribe information, and then the emails go back into the box under armed guard and they're taken away.
We're not allowed to copy them. We're not allowed to get them all at one time. They're meted out to us. Why is that? If there's nothing to hide, why not have the information so we can all know what it is within the confines of security postures and operational security and security clearances? Finally, or maybe not finally, who's accountable? Has anybody been held accountable? Sure, there were some four employees at the State Department that were excused from their duty for a year, or nearly a year, with pay, and then brought back in. And this is not to disparage those employees.
It's my understanding, since we haven't talked to any of them yet because we've been disallowed to talk to them, that they didn't even know they were held responsible until the day it happened, and they still haven't seen the report that says they were responsible for the reduced security posture. Nobody's been held accountable.
Why wasn't the Secretary involved in the questioning of the ARB, the Accountability Review Board? The person at the top, not even questioned. That's like having a murder investigation in a family where the husband was having an affair and having strained relations with his wife, the wife was murdered, and he was the only one in town at the time, and not questioning that. That's what that's like.
Nobody questioned the Secretary. Really? Was there real-time video information via drone, unarmed aerial vehicle? We heard originally--I was in the questioning, in the hearing with the Secretary, Secretary Clinton, when she originally came earlier this spring, and she said that there was no real-time information.
Yet, on national radio, I heard a guy call into national radio who was the payload operator. And to be clear, the payload operator is not the individual flying the unarmed aerial vehicle. The payload operator is the individual that handles the camera or the weapons system.
So the individual handling the camera called into a national talk show and described what he was seeing as it was occurring. So if we had the real-time information, why weren't we acting on it? Where is that real-time information? Why haven't we seen it? Finally, where was the President during this? I mean, this is a crisis of national proportion and national security. And I know the President hasn't come before Congress to ask a question, and every time we ask anybody else the question, the answer's going to be, well, I don't know. I don't keep the President's schedule.
Why can't the American people know the facts? We just want the truth. We just want the facts. The facts will lead us to the truth. We're not on a witch hunt. The American people deserve to know. The families of the fallen, they deserve to know what happened here.
And I know the administration is hoping that time will go by, debt ceiling, continuing resolution, ObamaCare, Syria, anything will get in the way of finding out what happened here. But we are duty-bound, ladies and gentlemen, Madam Speaker, we are duty-bound to find out this information on behalf of the American people.
I applaud you, Mr. King. Thank you for yielding the time.