While conservatives flocked to CPAC 2014, a handful of attendees branched off for a discussion about Benghazi, Russia, nuclear sanctions and national security at another conference just down the street.
At the Westin Hotel in National Harbor complex in suburban Maryland, the National Security Action Conference attracted a smaller crowd than its CPAC counterpart at the Gaylord National, but shared some of the same big-name attractions, including Senator Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, who spoke at both events.
Many attendees said their gathering tackled national security issues that were pushed under the rug at CPAC.
“We came out to the event because we felt it would be more intimate, we felt that it would touch on some issues that the larger CPAC wasn’t touching on,” said Daniel Horowitz, a student at Binghamton University who attended both events.
"It is kind of weird that [CPAC] didn’t have a specific forum on Benghazi,” Mr. Horowitz said. “I thought it was really great that this panel specifically addressed Benghazi, keeping it relevant, and that’s something that still needs to be worked out.”
Some welcomed the diversity of the two conferences.
“Sometimes I know CPAC will have certain things that they cycle in and out of what they want to cover in a given year,” Binghamton University Student Assembly Speaker Nicholas Fondacaro said. “It’s good for some people who want to hear a little more about a certain topic that’s not going to be covered, so it’s catering to what’s not being said. … I wouldn’t say it’s division. It’s covering some of the stuff that some of us want to hear more about.”
The National Security Action Conference included panels on the Muslim Brotherhood, border control, the crisis in Ukraine, and a heavily attended panel called “Benghazi-gate” which included remarks from Charles Wood, the father of Tyrone Woods who was one of the four Americans killed in the September 2012 attack on the American diplomatic compound in Libya.
Mr. Woods stressed the need for a select congressional committee to investigate the unanswered questions about the Benghazi siege.
He shared a conversation he had with President Obama in which he asked the president if one of his own family members had been involved in the siege, would he have been more aggressive in his response?
“His answer — ‘I would have done the same thing.’”
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