The pace of the investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attacks has been slowed because the Obama administration has not produced documents requested by the committee, according to Committee Chair Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.
The panel was charged with learning the truth of the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya. Four Americans died in the attacks.
“It’s taken way too long and way too much of our energy in simply gaining access,” Gowdy said. “There continues to be time wasted negotiating with executive branch entities who do not want to give us what I believe Congress is entitled to.”
Gowdy said the Pentagon, State Department and CIA have all put up resistance to giving the committee information it needs to fully understand what took place.
“There are witnesses we had to insist on and then we were told no, then we were told we can’t find them, and then we were told, ‘It would take X,Y, Z and you don’t want to do all that,’ and there were all these excuses,” said Gowdy, who noted that some documents requests have taken more than a year to be answered, with others never answered at all. “There is no way we can do this investigation without talking to these people… and it takes time,”
Gowdy said the delays have been an unwelcome factor that has dragged out the investigation.
“Nothing gets better with time, except maybe wine — but investigations do not. I wanted to have this done in December 2015 … But you have to have access to documents and witnesses — that is the lifeblood of an investigation. And when one side controls documents and the witnesses and the other group is trying to conduct the investigation, that creates something of a quandary,” he said.
For example, the committee asked in November 2014 for copies of correspondence from top State Department official Patrick Kennedy. The final pieces were received this January. Other records belonging to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills and deputies Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan asked for in 2015 were just shared this spring after being accidentally misplaced.
“I guess if something happens one time, you have defense of incompetence but when it happens 101 times and it is continuing to happen? I don’t think sheer incompetence explains it,” Gowdy said.
Gowdy said that late-arriving documents have impacted the panel’s ability to question witnesses.
“The intelligence agency is generally not interested in oversight, and it’s not just our committee — there’s a general reluctance to share with Congress period,” Gowdy said. “It’s taken way too long and it’s taken way too much of our energy in simply gaining access.”
Gowdy said there are inconsistencies among witnesses that must be resolved.
“There is, I don’t want to say conflicting testimony, but testimony that is not harmonized,” Gowdy said. “So the witnesses I am interested in at this point are witnesses that can fill in blanks. Anyone who can help me understand the decisions made and not made and timing behind them.”
“All along I have been happy to skip the drama and get the documents, but in the process we’ve got lots of drama and not all the documents,” Gowdy said.
Via Western Journalism