Loose Canons

Boycotting Benghazi

The media will, but the Democrats can’t.

By 5.12.14

UPI
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Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (R-SC) Select Committee to investigate the 9-11-2012 attacks in Benghazi was established by HR-567, which passed by a vote of 232-186 last Thursday. It’s supposed to be made up of seven Republicans and five Democrats. Speaker Boehner appointed Gowdy as chairman and Susan Brooks (Indiana), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Mike Pompeo (Kansas), Martha Roby (Alabama), Peter Roskam (Illinois) and Lynn Westmoreland (Georgia) as the Republican members. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal) has, so far, declined to appoint any Democrats to the committee.

Gowdy evidently had considerable influence in drafting the bill. It gives the select committee a very broad mandate to investigate everything that led up to, and occurred during and in the aftermath of the attacks, including specifically “…internal and public executive branch communications about the attacks on United States facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012.” The committee is also mandated to issue a report of its investigation that details its findings. Now comes the hard part, which will have to be a long and detailed investigation.

There are three obstacles to the committee’s investigation. The first is the fact that — though unwisely — Pelosi and the Dems may try to boycott the committee’s work in order to drive a political narrative that it is a witch hunt. The second is the entire Obama administration’s dedication to the cover-up of its malfeasance, its abuses of power, and its efforts to avoid any accountability for its actions. The third challenge is the media’s eager complicity in the ongoing cover-up of the Obama administration’s actions.

Pelosi and the Democratic caucus met for hours on Friday without apparently coming up with an agreement on how they will participate. They’re caught in a dilemma of their own making. Having aided and abetted the Obama cover-up, they don’t want to be seen to be giving the Gowdy Committee credibility by participating in the investigation. Their options aren’t good.

First, they can only boycott the committee’s work at their — and Obama’s — peril. Because the committee’s mandate is so broad, the Dems will have to face the fact that Obama’s entire national security apparatus — Hillary Clinton, David Petraeus, Leon Panetta, and the president himself, along with a large number of their subordinates — will have to be subpoenaed by the committee. The Dems can’t fail to be in on these sessions because Obama, Hillary, and the rest must have already demanded that the Dems be present to ask questions calculated to defend them. The Dems’ task will be to ask argumentative questions crafted to protect the witnesses and becloud every aspect of the interrogations.

That’s a given, and the Republicans will have to deal with it by asking real questions — not the kind of mini-speeches Joe Biden used to indulge himself in during hearings of the Senate Judiciary Committee when he lost his train of thought and ran out of time. Gowdy will have to require that his Republicans ask every question in a way to reveal facts and avoid those self-indulgent speeches.

If the Dems aren’t party to every deposition they won’t be able to ask those questions. Even more importantly for them, they won’t be able to leak parts of the transcripts, documentary evidence, and all the rest of the things they may craft to damage the credibility of the committee’s work. Those who aren’t on the committee — Republican and Democrat alike — shouldn’t be privy to its work until it’s published. Gowdy shouldn’t fail to investigate leaks and tell the world who is responsible while the committee’s investigation continues.

So far, the question of the Democrats’ participation has been tied up by their demands for a veto of who is subpoenaed, what documents are demanded, and all of the other actions the committee might undertake. Gowdy and Boehner must reject that demand or the committee’s work can never succeed in uncovering the truth.

Gowdy should accept the Dems’ participation, even if it is decided upon months from now. Whether the Dems appoint one member or the full five, he should give them the ability to participate fully. But that’s not to say he should wait for them. The committee should begin work as soon as its chief counsel and chief investigator are hired and staff organized.

The Obama administration, as I’ve written before, will be the biggest obstacle. Gowdy will face objections to every subpoena for documents and testimony. He’ll have a long fight, extending quickly to citations for contempt of the House as the new normal the Obama gang will impose. They will do everything in their power, including presidential assertions of executive privilege, to stall and prevent the committee from acting. They will stall, pose objections, and make assertions of executive privilege, just like the one in the “Fast and Furious” investigation, which will have to be fought out in the courts. That alone will take months if not years.

Gowdy’s team will have to delve into the actions of a lot of people who haven’t come to the attention of the public. For example, Jeffrey Feltman is now Undersecretary General of the United Nations for Public Affairs. Before that, he was Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. According to one of our sources, he was heavily involved in the decisions to deny the Benghazi diplomatic mission the security reinforcements it repeatedly requested. His emails should be subpoenaed — including those to and from the State Department and White House after he was appointed to the UN - and he should have to testify under oath. He may be the person who can link Hillary Clinton to those decisions. Getting around the UN’s protective screen isn’t a task Gowdy’s group can fail to do.

The media’s participation in the cover-up will continue. We know, from a new Indiana University study, that the so-called mainstream media have several dominant traits. It’s comprised mostly of middle-aged men who are over-educated, unhappy with their jobs, underpaid (in their own estimation, and the men are better paid than the women), and still claim that they’re unbiased. From the beginning — during the 2012 presidential campaign — the media has failed to perform its constitutionally protected job of investigating what the Obama gang did before, during, and after the 9-11-2012 attacks.

They can be expected to do the same throughout the Select Committee’s investigation. They will go to extreme lengths to protect and defend the Obama gang’s narrative and do their best to discredit Gowdy’s investigation at every opportunity.

To help get past the media cover-up, Gowdy will cultivate his own allies in the press carefully. His training and experience as a federal investigator and prosecutor will compel him to try keep the committee’s findings and deliberations confidential during the investigation, but he may as well resign himself today that confidentiality will be breached, even by people divulging classified information. There will have to be a campaign to counter leaks and defend the investigation’s credibility. He will have to do everything he can to prevent classified information from being leaked. The other half of that is he will also have to resist the Obama gang’s effort to classify information that should be readily made public.

There will be demands that key witnesses — such as Hillary Clinton — be questioned prematurely to “clear the air.” But Gowdy can’t agree to that. He has to be prepared for thorough depositions and that means getting the paper trail first and organizing the questioning before the depositions. He’ll only get one chance to question people such as Clinton, Obama, Petraeus and Panetta. Without the right preparation, those opportunities will be wasted.

Gowdy’s investigation will have to be a cross between the 9-11 Commission’s work and that of a U.S. Attorney in New York investigating a mafia family. The terrorist attacks on the Benghazi missions will have to be examined closely to determine the questions left unanswered by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s January report, such as what the CIA was doing in Benghazi and whether its actions were legal.

The Obama mob will conduct itself as would the Gambinos or the Profacis, with one difference. There will be recordings of conversations among the administration’s principals and lesser-ranking staff. All of those recordings have to be obtained and listened to carefully.

Gowdy will have a long, hard slog to get to the truth. The sooner it begins, the sooner we’ll have the facts.

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About the Author
Jed Babbin served as a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush. He is the author of several bestselling books including Inside the Asylum and In the Words of Our Enemies. He is coauthor (with Herbert London) of the new book The BDS War Against Israel. You can follow him on Twitter@jedbabbin.