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Military retirees press Benghazi probe; 700 seek ‘full accounting’
In separate letters to House members, the groups Special Operations Speaks and Operational Security (OpSec), urged support for the resolution introduced by Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican, calling for a special congressional committee of inquiry to look into the deadly attacks.
“The traditional committee [oversight] process has failed stalled out,” OpSec founder Scott W. Taylor, a former Navy SEAL, told The Washington Times.
In a second letter to every member of the House signed by 700 retired military personnel, Special Operations Speaks demanded a “full accounting” of the Benghazi attack, listing lingering questions about the incident and the Obama administration’s responses.
U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, State Department officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen A. Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods were killed when dozens of heavily armed extremists, including members of a local militia linked to al Qaeda, overran and set fire to the temporary diplomatic post and later assaulted a nearby CIA annex with mortars. The attacks took place over an eight-hour period.
Republican lawmakers have pressed what they say are unanswered questions about the events of that night, and several congressional inquiries already have been held.
Hearings by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee revealed last year that State Department officials rejected several requests for more security from diplomats and security personnel in Libya in the months before the attacks. The security environment in Benghazi had been declining, with attacks on the U.S. post and other Western diplomatic facilities.
In addition, a State Department panel of inquiry concluded last year that four midlevel officials exercised poor leadership and mismanaged security in Libya and at the diplomatic facility in Benghazi.
Mr. Taylor called the investigative efforts “disjointed.”
“None of them have produced the answers we need,” he said.
The committee’s membership would be the chairmen and ranking members of the six committees with jurisdiction over some part of the issue armed services, foreign affairs, intelligence, homeland security, judiciary and government reform plus five other Republicans and two additional Democrats.
Some observers say the resolution has little chance of passage because the committee chairmen already leading investigations will not take kindly to having to share control or the limelight with others.
Mr. Wolf was unavailable for comment Monday, his office said.
Mr. Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, told The Times that “the speaker has confidence in the committees of jurisdiction” and their existing efforts to get to the bottom of the issue.
Mr. Taylor, who lost a Republican primary in Virginia in 2010, said he does “understand the politics of it,” but that Monday’s letter is “just the first step in a concerted effort to really push for this special investigation.”
The calls Monday likely will refocus attention on questions that critics say remain about whether U.S. forces could have done more to rescue survivors, and whether President Obama and his senior security staff were sufficiently engaged with events in Benghazi.
OpSec is a nonpartisan nonprofit made up of former U.S. intelligence and national security personnel, and can advocate on public policy issues but not for or against any particular candidate in elections. Last year, it raised more than $1 million, which it spent to produce TV and Web advertisements and a short feature film all criticizing leaks from inside the Obama administration about its national security successes.
Special Operations Speaks is a political action committee that spent more than $1 million during last year’s general election campaign to urge the defeat of Mr. Obama.
The letter is signed, the group says, by more than 700 former military or intelligence personnel, including more than 20 general officers.
They include retired Army Lt. Gen. Dell L. Dailey, a former State Department counterterrorism coordinator; retired Army Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, a Ranger and controversial former military intelligence chief; and retired Army Maj. Gen. John K. “Jack” Singlaub, who was a founding member of the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA during World War II.
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About the Author
Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...
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