By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
The latest hearing by the House Select Committee on Benghazi was held on December 10th, as Congress is about to head out the door for Christmas. The hearing was unfortunately still focused on the far-from-independent State Department Accountability Review Board. It’s time to move on. There is plenty to investigate. The critics of any further investigation are citing the latest report from Rep. Mike Rogers’ (R-MI) House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) to argue that the whole investigation should be shut down.
That’s the narrative previously promoted by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who also referred to the flawed HPSCI report’s assertion that it is a “definitive” accounting in his opening statement at Wednesday’s hearing.
Rep. Cummings also informed the American people that Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) had agreed to outline the scope of the Select Committee on Benghazi’s investigation by the end of the year, and that he and Chairman Gowdy would meet with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on December 11th to establish new rules for the Select Committee. A House Democrat press release indicates that the Select Committee will be narrowing its scope and adopting official rules to provide more equality between the two parties in terms of questioning future witnesses. “This should appease Democrats who have long criticized the panel as designed to rile up the Republican base,” commented Lauren French for Politico. It may also water down the investigation.
Gowdy appeared on Greta Van Susteren’s show on Fox News after the hearing, and said that the committee would be calling National Security Adviser Susan Rice and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify at some point, but that he and Rep. Cummings “are going to consult with each other before any decisions are made.”
Instead of “narrowing the scope” of this investigation, it’s time to expand the scope, to include the dereliction of duty, the cover-up, the reason we overthrew Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi in the first place, and how and why the U.S. knowingly facilitated the shipment of arms to al Qaeda. You can read about all that in the Interim Report from the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, which was produced last April.
Rep. Mike Rogers appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Candy Crowley last Sunday. The focus was on the then-soon-to-be-released report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on the so-called “CIA Torture report.” But at the end, Crowley brought up Benghazi. It was clear she didn’t really want to, but it was hanging out there.
Here was the exchange:
CROWLEY: I can’t let you go, even though I’m out of time, because I need to ask you about the Benghazi report that your committee put out. It’s been criticized by a lot of Republicans. Some have aid it was a bunch of an expletive that I can’t use on TV, saying, you know, you slow-walked this. It was a sloppy report. You never wanted to find the Obama administration, you kept saying this is in the past, let’s move on, and that it will not be the definitive report. Your reaction?
ROGERS: It’s been criticized by a lot of Republicans. Some have said it was a bunch of an expletive that I can’t use on TV, Oh, it’s not meant to be the most definitive report. I wish—people who were some of the most vocal critics never read the report. Actually, some of the most vocal critics never accessed the classified evidence or the classified annex to the report. I find that a little bit troubling that they would spend so much time looking for a partisan angle on this.
Here’s the problem when I—that I learned as a young FBI agent in Chicago. If somebody loves your investigation, best to start over. And what happened is, we decided that we were only going to use facts and then corroborate those facts to come to a finding and a conclusion.
If people read the conclusions, which, by the way, is very narrowly tailored to the intelligence community, the State Department was not part of our investigation. The White House was not part of our investigation. This was only isolated to the intelligence community.
The odd thing is, it mirrors—mirrors the Senate Intelligence report. It also mirrors the House Armed Services report, which was also a Republican report. None of those reports differ at all, because they were all fact-based.
My argument is, if you—some people on the left are condemning it. They wanted exoneration. Some on the right are saying they wanted damnation. What we did is laid the facts on the table. And I believe the facts speak for themselves.
There are a lot of unanswered questions in the State Department and the White House. That’s where the Select Committee, I think, can get answers.
While we have, I believe, thoroughly debunked his finding that this was not an intelligence failure, and that there was no “stand down” order, Rogers does admit that the report didn’t look at the White House or the State Department. His answer had a different tone from that of the report itself—less definitive—and to those who argued that this report was case closed on Benghazi, they need to think again. I know that’s what they wish, but it’s not happening.
Also, Crowley had her own controversial history with Benghazi, when she played the straight-woman for Barack Obama during one of the presidential debates in 2012.
The media have been hard at work trying to enshrine the recent House Intelligence Committee report on the attacks in Benghazi, Libya as the gospel truth. In response, Accuracy in Media has been busy debunking this report, and has even published a rebuttal by Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi member Clare Lopez, a former CIA officer. Her piece outlines how the report ignores statements made by the Annex Security Team regarding what happened on the ground on September 11 and 12, 2012.
Now we can read the official debunking of the report by the very people who were present that night in Benghazi, and learn what they have to say about this misleading report. In a powerful indictment of Chairman Rogers’ committee, Kris “Tanto” Paronto and John “Tig” Tiegen have exposed numerous lies and inaccuracies made by the House Intelligence Committee, based on their firsthand knowledge of events.
For example, the Annex Security Team exposes stunning behavior by the Tripoli response team and CIA Annex staff. Excluding Glen Doherty, who was killed in the attacks, these people apparently did not assist the team in guarding against the terrorist threat on the rooftops at the Annex on September 12, 2012—to the point of not providing relief for Paranto to take a bathroom break. Instead, they congregated in Building C, Paronto and Tiegen assert. “Meanwhile, the other Tripoli Teams officers spread out to assess the situation, locate all personnel and fill any security gaps,” the intelligence committee report had stated.
Also, the intelligence committee report boldly asserted, “The CIA security team chief (GRS Staff Team Leader) in Benghazi, in consultation with the Chief of Base, made the decision to organize the rescue mission and to commence the operation.” In reality, Paronto and Tiegen write, they defied orders, departing the Annex and coming to the aid of the Diplomatic Security agents under fire at the Special Mission Compound. The authors even describe Paronto as being “antagonized” by a committee staffer for the team’s decision to defy orders and go to the DS agents’ aid.
The committee’s demonstrated level of misinformation should not, and cannot, be adopted as gospel truth by the media. Paronto and Tiegen’s complete article can be read on Breitbart.com.
Current plans, announced at the latest hearing of the Select Committee, are to hold one hearing in January, one in February, and one in March. What is necessary are Watergate-style hearings, with a sense of urgency about getting to the bottom of this sordid Obama administration scandal.