Democratic Members Respond to Pentagon Letter Exposing Latest Republican Abuses
WASHINGTON— Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Rep. Adam Smith, the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Adam Schiff, the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, released a letter from the Assistant Secretary of Defense to Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy exposing the latest abuses by Select Committee Republicans.
“Ever since their disastrous 11-hour marathon hearing with Secretary Clinton backfired last fall, Republicans have been trying to redeem themselves by demanding more and more duplicative and unnecessary interviews and dragging out their sham of an investigation closer to the election,” said Ranking Member Elijah Cummings. “The Department of Defense has a critical job to do, which is to keep our nation safe from those who would do us harm. But Republicans continue to squander millions of taxpayer dollars chasing right-wing conspiracy theories and forcing Pentagon officials to waste their time on this partisan fishing expedition.”
“After two years of a politically driven innuendo and $6.7 million in wasted taxpayer money, the last thing we should be doing is subpoenaing our servicemembers,” said Ranking Member Adam Smith. “It is time to shut down the Benghazi Committee and spare our men and women in uniform from this unnecessary inquisition.”
"It has been apparent since the beginning, that the Select Committee on Benghazi would be little more than a politically motivated fishing expedition,” said Ranking Member Adam Schiff. “This week's letter from the Assistant Secretary of Defense demonstrates the cost of that fishing expedition to the taxpayers and to those entrusted with defending the country. It is now clear that the Committee leadership has reached a new level of desperation in its efforts to find anything that would justify its creation and tremendous expense. Nonetheless, I hope the Committee will now respect the needs and demands of our armed forces and desist from diverting any further resources from the national defense."
“At the same time, while I understand your stated intent is to conduct the most comprehensive review of the attack and response, Congress has as much of an obligation as the Executive Branch to use federal resources and taxpayer dollars effectivly and efficiently. The Department has spent millions of dollars on Benghazi-specific Congressional compliance, including reviews by four other committees, which have diligently reviewed the military’s response in particular.”
“Finally, DoD interviewees have been asked repeatedly to speculate or engage in discussing on the record hypotheticals posed by Committee Members and staff, regardless of the interviewee’s actual knowledge or expertise to provide appropriate analysis or insight. This type of questioning poses the risk that your final report may be based on speculation rather than a fact-based analysis of what a military officer did do or could have done given his or her knowledge at the time of the attacks.”
Back in December 2014, Gowdy said he planned to have Pentagon witnesses like Secretary Panetta and others testify at a public hearing in April 2015. But he never invited him. Instead, as widely reported, Republicans abandoned this plan to focus instead on attacking Secretary Clinton’s bid to become president. However, the 11-hour marathon hearing with Secretary Clinton on October 22, 2015, was a failure, as many Republicans stated publicly.
It was not until October 23—one day after the Clinton hearing—that Republicans rushed to invite Secretary Panetta to appear before the Select Committee. Republicans waited 533 days before taking any action to invite the Secretary of Defense to appear before the Select Committee. Their new demands include asking the Department of Defense to track down an individual who posted an allegation on Facebook that planes at his base could have been deployed to Benghazi in time to make a difference. He posted this with the hashtag #ifyouvoteforhillaryyouarebeyondstupid.
Several of these recent Republican requests are for DoD witnesses who have already testified before Congress, and their transcripts are available to the public. Specifically, General Ham has spoken with Congress on the topic of Benghazi eight separate occasions. Of the four witness most recently requested by Republicans on April 22, half have already been interviewed and their transcripts are publicly available.
As a result, the Select Committee is now one of the longest and least productive investigations in history and has spent more than $6.7 million in taxpayer funds. The Select Committee has spent $1.7 million dollars since the Clinton hearing.