WASHINGTON — Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., says the key to getting to the truth in the Benghazi investigation is hearing from the eyewitnesses who were there.
In an exclusive interview with WND, he says the problem is “to date, no one who was on the scene has been called as a witness.”
Wolf says the witnesses are being pressured to keep quiet, and “many are being forced to sign non-disclosure agreements.”
“Many would like to be subpoenaed, they can’t get subpoenaed,” he said.
That’s why Wolf insists on forming a Select Committee to investigate and hold public hearings into what went wrong in Benghazi.
He has seen his share of scandals in his 33 years in Congress, and of all the Obama administration’s current scandals, Wolf thinks this one needs special attention for a number of reasons.
The House Government Oversight and Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is currently holding hearings on Benghazi.
Wolf has introduced a bill, co-sponsored by 158 fellow House Republicans, to turn the investigation over to a Select Committee.
He said that’s not a knock on Issa, who Wolf suggested could well chair the Select Committee, but he believes too much of the investigation has been done behind closed doors.
Wolf said the only way to effectively find out what really happened would be to hold an open invesitgation by a committee that could focus on one issue, unlike Issa’s committee, which is also investigating scandals at the IRS and the Justice Department.
What investigators know:
- On Sept. 11, 2012, a group of heavily armed terrorists attacked the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, for hours with weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
- The attack came in two waves and lasted from 9:40 p.m. until after 6:00 a.m., when Libyan soldiers finally arrived to evacuate the surviving American personnel.
- U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, computer specialist Sean Smith, and CIA security contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed.
What investigators want to know:
- Why was the ambassador there?
- Why was the security inadequate and actually reduced shortly before the attack?
- Why were prior requests for more security denied?
- Why did no one send U.S. forces to help Americans under attack?
- Why did the administration erroneously blame the attack on a spontaneous protest about an anti-Islamic video on YouTube?
- Why did the administration change the CIA’s original version of what happened?
In the video above, Wolf told WND there are many reasons a Select Committee is needed and began with the most important.
“Four people died. No one died in the other scandals.”
He said, secondly, it is more complex than the IRS scandal, which deals just with the Treasury Department.
“This deals with the Justice Department because the FBI is the lead investigator; the State Department because this was a consulate; it deals with the CIA, the NSA and all the intelligence communities because this was a CIA annex; the Defense Department because there was a failure to come rescue these men,” he observed.
“Thirdly, it deals with the whole issue of the war on terror. They arrested somebody in Tunisia but they wouldn’t allow us to interview him. Finally, after five weeks the FBI team got the right to talk to him. We give Tunisia $320 million (a year) and we can’t even get an honest answer out of them. Egypt has arrested somebody but President Morsi will not allow the FBI to enter to interview him.”
He says Congress must have the Intelligence Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Government Operations Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Homeland Security Committee and the Armed Services Committee come together in one unified effort, and the hearings must be public.
Wolf then mentioned a key fact that has been largely overlooked in coverage of the Benghazi scandal.
“To date, no one who was on the scene has been called as a witness. And they have to be subpoenaed.”
The congressman then contrasted the fate of the victims of the attack with the current positions of the key players in the drama.
“Hillary Clinton is making a couple of hundred thousand dollars a speech and now running for president,” Wolf said. “General Petraeus is working for a big financial firm up in New York City. Leon Panetta has signed a $3 million book deal. Susan Rice is now the National Security Adviser. Jack Lew, who was (White House) Chief of Staff, is now the Treasury Secretary. Denis McDonough, who was the head of the National Security Counci, is now Chief of Staff.
“Compare that to four dead Americans. And we don’t know, and their families don’t know, what happened. Others were wounded, some so severely it will affect them for the rest of their lives.
“Doesn’t that kind of shock you? I thnk if we do not have a Select Committee we will never know what happened,” Wolf said with emphasis.
When WND asked why it was important to hold a public investigation on Benghazi, Wolf returned to a key point.
“We have not heard publicly from people who were on the ground,” he replied.
When asked why, he observed: “I think many people in the administration do not want it to come out. And there are those in Congress, who for some reason, who aren’t anxious to get it out.”
Wolf then made a dramatic charge.
“They are being pressured. Many are being fored to sign non-disclosure agreements,” he insisted, referring to those on the ground in Benghazi who were eyewitnesses to the attack.
WND asked if a public hearing would force what they know into the open.
“They would subpoena them. Many would like to be subpoenaed. They can’t get subpaoenaed. ”
He said what’s needed is a Select Committee similar to those in the Iran-Contra and Watergate investigations.
“It has the support of the Wall Street Journal, George Will, Charles Krauthammer, everyone who has looked at it says this makes a lot of sense,” said Wolf.
The congressman said Issa’s committee is not able to get to those people “because they are only dealing with the State Department” and that if you had a Select Committee and “a unified staff where you know when they say something to you, everyone else knows.”
“Whereas now, they can say one thing to one committee and another thing to another committee,” Wolf said.
“Most importantly, everything must be done in public. If you don’t do it in public, you’re never going to find out. If we do not do this in public, the American people will never know what happened,” he emphasized.
Wolf doesn’t appear to believe four subpoenas issued by Issa’s committee to the State Department this week will get much information.
“How about the CIA? The people I’m talking about didn’t work for the State Department. How about the Department of Defense? How about the contractors?”
The congressman then made a musical comparison.
“Years ago in Central Park, Simon and Garfunkel sang a song called ‘The Boxer’ with the words, ‘A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.’ The Congress is hearing what it wants to hear and is disregarding the rest. The rest is where the real story is.”
Wolf wouldn’t speculate on whether the idea to blame the video for the attack came from the White House. But he does say the issue brings up another reason for the Select Committee.
“This could involve the White House. But you don’t have people from the White House testifying, or the Justice Department, the intelligence community, the Department of Defense or the contractors,” he said.
WND asked why no one sent help to Benghazi.
“You talk to people who were there and they didn’t know how long this was going to last. Eight hours? Eight days? Eight months? The Iranian hostage crisis lasted for more than 400 days.”
Wasn’t that all the more reason to send help?
“They should’ve sent help. Absolutely. They violated the ethos of the military: leave no one behind. Talk to (WND contributor) General (William “Jerry”) Boykin. He can tell you. They violated that.”