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MILLER: Rand Paul demands answers on U.S. gunrunning in Benghazi
Question of the Day
Sen. Rand Paul suspects the U.S. was secretly running guns through the consulate in Benghazi to arm Syrian rebels. The Kentucky Republican said the Obama administration must provide answers about whether firearms trafficking through Libya was related to the terrorist attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
"We need to ask a lot of people in the administration, including Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton and others: Were we shipping arms to Turkey? And, was that why the ambassador was there in Benghazi? And why the CIA annex was there?" Mr. Paul said Sunday in an interview with Shannon Bream of Fox News.
President Obama recently named Mrs. Rice as his new National Security Adviser.
When asked what what answers he would get from officials such as Mrs. Rice, Mr. Paul said the likely response will be that the information is classified.
He added that, "I had a conversation with another congressman today who said that he asked someone within the leadership of Congress whether or not arms were being exchanged in Benghazi, and the response he got was, 'That was classified.'"
Mr. Paul concluded that, "When someone tells me that -- that's not a denial -- that's saying that, 'I'm not going to talk about that.' To me, that almost sounds like yes." The State Department did not respond to request for comment.
When Mrs. Clinton testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Paul asked her directly about gunrunning — via Turkey — to arm Syrian rebels.
"When I asked Hillary Clinton that question in the committee hearing, she never said, 'No we weren't involved with transferring guns out of Libya,'" he told Fox News. "She just said, 'Oh I can't imagine. That's not under my — that would be the CIA. We would have to ask them.' But she acted like she'd never heard of the question."
In the Jan. 23 hearing, Mr. Paul asked her directly: "Is the U.S. involved with any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons, buying, selling, anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey out of Libya?"
"To Turkey? I will have to take that question for the record. That's — I — nobody's ever raised that with me," Mrs. Clinton responded.
"It's been in news reports that ships have been leaving from Libya, and that they may have weapons," Mr. Paul continued. "The annex that was close by — were they involved with procuring, buying, selling, obtaining weapons, and were any of these weapons being transferred to other countries, any countries, Turkey included?"
"Well, Senator, you'll have to direct that question to the agency that ran the annex. And I will — I will see what information is available and ..." Mrs. Clinton replied.
"You're saying you don't know," Mr. Paul offered.
"I do not know. I don't have any information on that," she answered.
The ongoing congressional investigation into the Benghazi scandal has taken a toll on Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the September 2012 attack. A Gallup poll out Monday show Mrs. Clinton now has her lowest favorability rating since 2008.
The House Oversight Committee's hearings with whistleblowers giving shocking testimony on the administration not protecting Americans in Benghazi has affected the public's view of the likely 2016 presidential candidate. Mrs. Clinton's positive rating fell from 64 percent in April to 58 percent in June, while her unfavorable rating rose from 31 to 39 percent.
The Obama administration needs to come clean about whether or not it has been arming Syrian rebels and what, if any, role that played in the death of our ambassador to Libya. Mr. Paul should continue to demand accountability for any arms trafficking.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Emily Miller is senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times. She is the author of “Emily Gets Her Gun … But Obama Wants to Take Yours” (Regnery 2013). Miller won the 2012 Clark Mollenhoff Award for Investigative Reporting from the Institute on Political Journalism.
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