Panel grills ex-officials over Benghazi
WASHINGTON — House Republicans investigating last year's deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, pressed a former U.N. ambassador and former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman on Thursday over their review of the Obama administration's handling of the matter.
GOP members of the House oversight committee asked why former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top administration officials weren't questioned during the inquiry overseen by Thomas Pickering and Adm. Mike Mullen. They chaired an independent panel that reviewed the Sept. 11, 2012, attack, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Their report last year harshly criticized the State Department for its security posture in the months before militants stormed the Benghazi facility. But House GOP members said it was incomplete and lacked independence.
Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., called the report by Pickering and Mullen a “whitewash” and asked why Clinton and Tom Donilon, then Obama's national security adviser, weren't interviewed. Pickering said they weren't involved in Benghazi security decisions.
“If the secretary wasn't involved, I must be on another planet,” Mica answered.
Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina later asked Mullen whether he interviewed President Obama.
Fellow Republican Rep. John Jordan of Ohio accused Mullen of tipping off Clinton's former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, about the investigation. Rep. Jason Chaffetz , R-Utah, argued with Mullen about U.S. or allied military assets; Chaffetz insisted they could have been mobilized during the attack.
“When we bombed Libya for months, we did so in connection with our NATO partners, and you never asked that NATO partners to help and engage,” Chaffetz said.
Mullen responded sharply: “I actually commanded NATO forces, and the likelihood that NATO could respond in a situation like that was absolutely zero.”
Pickering was the U.N. envoy during President George H.W. Bush's administration. Mullen was the top U.S. general under Presidents George W. Bush and Obama.
Mullen defended his and Pickering's report.
“We had unfettered access to State Department personnel and documents. There were no limitations,” Mullen said. “We received the full cooperation of all witnesses and every State Department office. We interviewed everyone we thought it was necessary to interview. We operated independently and were given freedom to pursue the investigation as we deemed necessary.”
The hearing with Pickering and Mullen carried on for nearly five hours. After breaking, the panel heard from the father of slain Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods and the mother of Sean Smith, who worked as an information technology specialist when he was killed in Benghazi.
“I still do not know why there was insufficient security when clearly the people on the ground were begging for it,” said Pat Smith, who has strongly criticized Clinton and others in the Obama administration. “Why wasn't our military called in to help? That is what the military is for. They didn't even try.”
In advance of the hearing, House Democrats released an 80-page report that concluded the military wasn't ordered to “stand down” during the Benghazi attack .
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- People who knew Virginia TV station shooter Flanagan recall his quick temper
- Clinton: Women ‘expect’ extremism from terrorists, not GOP candidates
- Compatibility of 1st-responder radios in doubt
- Obama marks Hurricane Katrina anniversary in New Orleans visit
- Planned Parenthood alleges ‘smear’ campaign in letter to top lawmakers
- Bison gores worker on California’s Catalina Island
- Ex-crime lab chief: Illegal’s fatal shot in San Francisco likely accidental
- 13 states spared EPA regulation of waterways
- ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ series premiere sets cable record
- Virginia reporter, cameraman killed on air; gunman also dies
- Dow, S&P, Nasdaq soar 4% despite China worries, but volatility expected to endure