JERUSALEM – Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, claimed in a radio interview this week that any involvement by the attacked U.S. facility in Benghazi in arms trafficking “would have absolutely nothing to do with” the lack of adequate security at the compound where Ambassador Christopher Stevens was murdered.
Issa made the statement to radio host Hugh Hewitt after repeatedly deflecting questions about the alleged arms smuggling to al-Qaida-linked Mideast rebels based at the Benghazi compound.
While Issa insists the alleged use of the Benghazi facility for coordinating arms shipments and other aid to the rebels is irrelevant, WND was first to report in October 2012 that it may help explain why there was no major public security presence at what has been wrongly described as a “consulate.”
Such a presence would draw attention to the shabby, nondescript building.
The compound’s alleged use for secret activities may also explain why it was established without the permission of the Libyan transitional government.
The 39-page State Department Accountability Review Board, or ARB, report on the Benghazi attack itself documented the facility was set up without the knowledge of the new Libyan government.
“Another key driver behind the weak security platform in Benghazi was the decision to treat Benghazi as a temporary, residential facility, not officially notified to the host government, even though it was also a full-time office facility,” the report states.
“This resulted in the Special Mission compound being excepted from office facility standards and accountability under the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act of 1999 (SECCA) and the Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB).”
However, Issa claimed in the radio interview that whether there was arms trafficking or not, it “would have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you provide the security necessary for a long-time, loyal ambassador who was a specialist in the Middle East – I visited him in multiple Middle Eastern countries over his tenure. He was asking for more security.”’
“He was denied it,” Issa said. “And ultimately, that becomes the primary scandal in Benghazi, that we know it was wrong to say no to security, it was wrong not to send an effective rescue mission quickly, and it certainly was wrong to flat lie about the cause of this attack for more than a week in a presidential year.”
Asked about the reports of arms trafficking at the Benghazi compound, Issa told Hewitt, “It’s not one of the items that we know, although I’ve seen it on the Internet, too.”
Issa stressed that his own investigation will only focus on why Stevens was denied sufficient security and why terrorists allegedly responsible for the attack have still not been apprehended.
“What we do know is that the ambassador asked for more security, and actually got less security, that there were calls for help that were unheeded by any support from outside, including military personnel that were effectively told to stand down when they tried to be part of a relief mission,” Issa said.
“And of course, Ambassador Rice outright read off of talking points that had to be knowingly false, claiming that there was a video causing this rather than the reality that it was, in fact, a preplanned terrorist attack on September 11,” Issa said.
“What we also know, of course, is they’ve unsealed an indictment today that covers people who as far as we know never left Benghazi, have been sitting having espresso at the coffee shops, and like Osama bin Laden, he was indicted before September 11, but not taken out when there was a chance to take him out. So we have serious doubts about how real this is versus a possible political decision on the eve of CNN making it clear that efforts to take these people out have been minimal or not at all.”
When Hewitt asked Issa again about the reports of arms trafficking to the rebels, the congressman deflected the investigative task to Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
“There’s a specific committee chairman, Mike Rogers, who deals with sources and methods and clandestine activities,” Issa stated. “Our investigation really is about two questions. When you deny an ambassador security he needs, are you denying it because of gross incompetence, in which case, nobody’s been fired? You’ve got to ask why people aren’t being held accountable. Or was this a political aim to make it look like the war on terror was over, that it had been won once Osama bin Laden had been killed?”
With additional research by Joshua Klein.