Politics

The Benghazi stonewall is mortared with NDAs

The Benghazi stonewall is mortared with NDAs

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) thinks it’s a bit strange that survivors of the Benghazi attack have given public testimony before Congress.  He looked into the matter, and says his office was told by “trusted sources” that “many, if not all, of the survivors of the Benghazi attacks, along with others at the Department of Defense and the CIA, have been asked or directed to sign additional non-disclosure agreements about their involvement.”  He says some of these agreements were signed “as recently as this summer.”

Wolf also referred to a Marine Corps Times story about Col. George Bristol, who was commander of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Siberia at the time of the attack.  According to the Times, the Defense Department has been insisting that Col. Bristol cannot be summoned before Congress for testimony because he has retired… but he’s not retired.  He’s still on active duty through the end of this month.

Defense Department officials have told members of Congress that Bristol cannot be forced to testify because he retired after stepping down during a March change of command ceremony, according to several media reports. The Pentagon reinforced that point of view to Marine Corps Times on Tuesday.

“Col. Bristol was not invited by Congress to testify before he retired,” said Air Force Maj. Robert Firman, a spokesman with the Office of the Secretary of Defense. “The DoD has cooperated fully with Congress and the Accountability Review Board since the beginning of this investigation, and we will continue to do so.”

That isn’t the case, however. While Bristol is preparing for retirement, he is on active duty through the end of July, said Maj. Shawn Haney, a Marine spokeswoman, on Wednesday. He will be placed on the inactive list on Aug. 1, she said. That contradicts statements that Pentagon officials have issued to both Congress and the media.

Pentagon officials said Wednesday that they were looking into the case. The situation will likely frustrate congressional critics, primarily Republicans, who say the Obama administration has not been truthful about the Benghazi attack and the U.S. response to it. They have repeatedly said the White House is guilty of a cover-up, despite an independent report that blamed the State Department for inadequate security at the compound in Benghazi.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) called the Pentagon’s excuses for being unable to produce Bristol for testimony “hogwash.”  Rep. Wolf said that if reports of Bristol’s quantum retirement status, and the blanket of Non-Disclosure Agreements, proved accurate, it would be “a stunning revelation to any member of Congress, and to the American people.”

“It also raises serious concerns about the propriety of the Administration’s efforts to silence those with knowledge of the Benghazi attack and response,” added Wolf.  He asked a series of tough questions about the Benghazi survivors that he doesn’t expect the Administration to answer, “but if this Congress doesn’t ask for the information and compel its delivery, the American people will never learn the truth.”

This was actually Wolf’s third “Benghazi Question of the Day.”  Question Number Two was actually a semi-automatic burst of questions about how the security of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was compromised:

Was there an intelligence failure in vetting the true loyalty of the Libyan security guards for the U.S. consulate?  Which agency was responsible for vetting the militias?

Who provided the terrorists with details of the consulate property? Was it the security guards or someone in the Libyan government who was notified about the ambassador’s visit?

Why did the guards in the car outside the consulate not warn the U.S. staff of the gathering terrorists as they drove away a minute before the assault began?  Were they complicit in the plot?

Question Number One was more of a broad complaint that some of the Benghazi eyewitnesses are singing seven-figure book deals, scheduled for publication in 2014, instead of testifying before Congress.  He wondered if any of that money would be shared with the families of the Benghazi fallen.  Hey, as long as the authors kept quiet through the 2012 election, mission accomplished, right?

I hope he gets to Question Number Four and asks what Barack Obama was doing on the night of September 11, 2012, because not even Edward Snowden has been able to get his mitts on that bit of information.

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