WEST PALM BEACH, Fl, April 20, 2013 – The effort to push Congress to appoint a Select Committee to investigate Benghazi gained traction last week, thanks to the leadership of Congressman Frank Wolf, OpSec and the father of slain Navy SEAL Ty Woods, Charlie Woods.
OpSec is a nonpartisan advocacy group for Special Operations and Intelligence forces. The mission of the group is to “protect US Special Operations Forces and national intelligence assets from political exploitation, misguided policies, and intentional misuse of classified information, all of which expose them and their families to greater risk and reduce their ability to keep Americans safe.”
COL (Ret) Jamie Williamson and Fred Rustmann , CIA (Ret), from OpSec accompanied Charlie Woods to Washington last week to meet with members of Congress. Woods was on the Hill to discuss the need for HR 36, establishing a select committee to investigate and report on the attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) introduced the bill last December seeking to create the House Select Committee on the Terrorist Attack in Benghazi. That committee would be charged with investigating every aspect of the attack on the consulate in Benghazi. The members of the committee would include the chairmen and ranking members of the committees on Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, Judiciary, Homeland Security and Government Reform and Oversight, with other members appointed by House leaders based on expertise.
Wolf reintroduced the legislation in January 2013 to the new Congress.
Until this week, the legislation had 70 co-sponsors. With the help of OpSec and Charles Woods, the number is now up to 119, with a majority of the republicans in Congress backing the measure.
Members of Congress expressed high interest in the visit, and press provided extensive coverage of Woods at his press conference with Congressman Wolf and two other members of Congress. Woods also met with investigators at the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressional members of the House Oversight Committee, and was introduced to Democratic House members Carolyn Mahoney of NYC, John Dingell of Michigan, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Congressmen Gerlach, Perry, Randy Forbes, Scott Rigell, Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and received a call from Senator Inhofe’s office.
According to a member of the delegation, there was so much interest, Woods literally ran out of time to meet with all of them.
During his press conference from Washington, Woods expressed dismay at the lack of information from the Obama Administration on Benghazi. He noted, “I know nothing more [about the attack] than what’s been made public. No one has contacted me.”
He further stated, “Seven months later, we still don’t know what has happened.”
“They fought a battle for eight hours and not one airplane, not one armed drone, not one bit of military support [was] given to them” despite the presence of U.S. assets in the region, Woods said. “This is extraordinary and we need to know … who was it that gave the order to stand down.”
At the same press conference, Congressman Wolf added, “I don’t think the American public is satisfied with the answers we’ve received. More importantly, the families [of those killed] are not satisfied. They along with the America public want to know why no one came to the rescue of their loved ones.”
Patricia Smith, the mother of Sean Smith who was killed in Benghazi wrote a letter supporting establishing a committee. In the letter, she wrote, “I agree completely with items 1 thru 16 of this resolution. I especially want to know WHY the four were abandoned the way they were. My son told me that he saw someone taking pictures just before this happened and reported it. He told me they asked repeatedly for better security.”
The letter goes on to say, “Please, Please help me find out who is responsible and fix it so no more of our sons & daughters are abandoned by the country they love. It is very difficult to find out. Leon Panetta advised Pres. Obama that the attack was occurring and Pres. Obama went to bed without sending help. It is too late for my son but not too late for those that follow.”
Speaker John Boehner (R-OHIO) has sole authority to create a select committee. Although he has expressed support for an inquiry, he has so far refused to appoint a committee.
Boehner was also unable to fit a meeting with Woods in his schedule last week, although one of his staffers met with the delegation.
The Speaker did hold a press conference backing further investigation and later in the week Tweeted, “We are determined to get to the truth regarding the terrorist attack in #Benghazi, will not let it be buried in a haze of bureaucracy.”
Boehner also said he expects the chairmen of five House committees to release a “comprehensive progress report” on Benghazi next week. He said the joint report from the chairman of the Oversight, Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, Intelligence, and Judiciary committees is “the beginning of what I’d describe as the next phase.”
None of the leaders of the five House committees named by Boehner have signed on as co-sponsors to Wolf’s resolution.
While Boehner’s announcement was an attempt to dampen criticism over lack of a Special Committee, the reports are unlikely to provide new insight. The “new” report is little more than a compilation of the existing Congressional reports, providing no new answers.
As a result, the report is likely to only heighten frustration with lack of legislative action on Benghazi, and could attract even more backers for an investigative committee.
Moreover, news reports suggest a whistleblower could emerge on Benghazi in the next several days, raising even more questions about the attacks.
OpSec and Woods are vowing to maintain the pressure on Congress. OpSec has already created a video plea to contribute to the effort and remains committed to gathering support for HR 36. To sign the OpSec petition supporting a Select Committee, visit opsecteam.org.
Woods also shows no sign of giving up the fight.
“We don’t just want another paper report,” Woods said. “We want people who were on the ground” to testify and explain “why they failed to provide support and protection.”
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