The chairman of a special House committee created to investigate the 2012 Benghazi tragedy on Monday instructed his staff to review secretly recorded tapes and intelligence reports that detail Hillary Rodham Clinton’s role in advocating and executing the war in Libya, opening the door for a possible expansion of his probe.
Rep. Trey Gowdy’s decision to seek a review of the materials, first highlighted in a series of Washington Times stories last week, carries consequences for the 2016 election in which Mrs. Clinton is expected to seek the presidency. It could also move the committee to examine the strained relationship between the State Department and Pentagon, which sharply disagreed over the 2011 war in Libya and the response to the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi a year later.
The Times reported last week that U.S. intelligence did not support Mrs. Clinton’s story of an impending genocide in Libya that she used to sell the war against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. The newspaper also unveiled secretly recorded tapes from Libya that showed that the Pentagon and Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich so distrusted her stewardship of the war that they opened their own diplomatic channels with the Gadhafi regime.
The tapes included candid conversations and allegations that Mrs. Clinton took the U.S. to war on false pretenses and was not listening to the advice of military commanders or career intelligence officers.
“Chairman Gowdy and the committee are aware of the details reported by The Washington Times, and we are reviewing them as part of the committee’s inquiry into Benghazi,” Benghazi Committee spokesman Jamal Ware announced Monday.
The emergence of the tapes and a new line of inquiry immediately had repercussions, especially on the political front where the 2016 president race has heated up.
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Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a 2016 GOP hopeful who has been intensely critical of Mrs. Clinton’s handling of the 2011 Libya intervention, said the stories demonstrate she is not the right person to lead the country or the nation’s military.
“Hillary’s judgment has to be questioned – her eagerness for war in Libya should preclude her from being considered the next Commander in Chief,” said Sen. Paul, who opposed the Libyan intervention at the onset.
“We want someone in that office with wisdom and better judgment… We created chaos in Libya – as a result many arms have gone to Syria which are now aiding jihadi terrorists. I couldn’t fathom how Hillary Clinton could become Commander and Chief after this,” he added.
Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman have declined any comment about the tapes.
The Times reported that on one of the tapes, a Pentagon liaison told a Gadhafi aide that Army Gen. Charles Jacoby, a top aide to Adm. Mullen, “does not trust the reports that are coming out of the State Department and CIA, but there’s nothing he can do about it,” the Pentagon liaison said, offering a candid assessment of tensions within the Obama administration.
“I can tell you that the President is not getting accurate information so at some point someone has to get accurate information to him… I think about a way through former Secretary Gates or maybe to Admiral Mullen to get him information.”
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Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, said the Pentagon’s actions were “highly unusual,” but said that it would make sense for the Pentagon to want to make sure their Commander in Chief was getting accurate information.
“I think it’s unusual to have the military say wait a minute, that’s not true,” Mr. Poe said in a telephone interview with the Times. “You have a false report from the Secretary of State, and then the military holding a completely different view of what’s taking place.
“They wanted [the president] to have facts – facts as opposed to what Secretary Clinton was hoping the facts would be; that Moammar Gadhafi was killing innocent women and children. That was was a false narrative. So, it would make sense that they would want to get that information straight to the president and not go through the Secretary of State,” he added
In reaction to the Times final installment of the series on Monday, which revealed secret Libyan intelligence reports that linked NATO supported rebels to al-Qaeda, Rep. Louie Gohmert said the news was not a complete surprise.
“During the Obama-Clinton hunger to enter a bombing war in Libya, some of us knew the rebels included al-Qaeda but we did not know the full extent of their involvement,” he said. “So we pleaded for U.S. restraint. With bombing in their heart and radical Islamists whispering in their ears, the Obama-Clinton team would not even entertain offers of a ceasefire and peaceful transition of power. While acting under U.N. approval to prevent atrocities, it appears the Obama-Clinton bombing barrages caused atrocities that sent a country into chaos which is continuing today.”
The Times series about the Libyan intervention was also picked up across the Atlantic.
Britain’s Daily Mail described the story as “stunning” declaring that, “[Sec.] Clinton will face tough questions about her march to war against Moammar Gadhafi if she runs for president.”
Mr. Poe said that he believes the series will prompt new questions, especially with the current state of military and political affairs in Libya.
“As far as I’m concerned Benghazi is not going away,” Mr. Poe said. “That the U.S. would give in and arm rebels and criminals to overthrow Col. Gadhafi, and then mislead the world on that is shameful. We now have chaos in Libya… it’s the U.S.’ undoing of a country. Gadhafi was no saint, but what we have now are gangsters and jihadists running the country. We have chaos because the US intervened in a deceitful way.
“Unfortunately, the administration is making more of an effort to protect Hillary Clinton’s involvement than they are in finding out the truth about what was really behind the overthrow of Gaddafi by the U.S.”