By Douglas J. Hagmann
In the event you missed it, the Democratic-Socialist Left has been absolutely giddy about the statement released on July 31, 2014, by the Republican majority House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) pertaining to their investigation into Benghazi. The type of giddy that Chris Matthews described in 2008 when he said “I felt this thrill going up my leg” as he listened to then-Presidential candidate Barack Hussein Obama speak.
The giddiness, of course, relates to the reported finding that there was no deliberate wrongdoing by the Obama administration in the 2012 attack in Benghazi. A closer examination of the facts, however, suggests a potentially embarrassing case “premature elation,” at least in the case of Benghazi.
Although you would think the Socialist Left would be troubled by premature elation as it fails to satisfy the factual needs of an inquiring public, few appear to be. Leading the list of those afflicted by premature elation appear to include not just the entire staff of Media Matters, but specifically writers John Kerr and Jeremy Holden, as they continue to use the word hoax[ia] in reference to the death of four Americans. The use of the word “hoax,” particularly in consideration of the horrific deaths of four Americans, is an affront to journalism and fact-based reporting. Perhaps it is used to compensate for the embarrassment of premature elation. Perhaps… but perhaps an unsatisfied public might find some actual relief in the following factual disclosures, and why their celebratory giddiness is not only unbecoming, but completely misplaced.
First, we must take a look at exactly what was said, who said it, and the context in which it was said. On July 31, 2014, HPSCI Minority member Mike Thompson stated that the HPSCI findings “confirms that no one was deliberately misled, no military assets were withheld and no stand-down order [to U.S. forces] was given[ii].” Upon declassification and release, the conclusion of the report is expected to be non-controversial and conform to the findings of the previous individual agency reports. But what is the HPSCI and do they have all of the information that should be made available to them?
The HPSCI is the primary committee in the U.S. House of Representatives charged with the oversight of the United States Intelligence Community, including the intelligence and intelligence related activities of 17 elements of the Executive branch of the U.S. Government, and also the Military Intelligence Program[iii]. The committee currently consists of 21 members; composition and leadership is determined by which political party holds the majority in Congress. In this 113th Congress of the United States, there are 12 Republicans and 9 Democrats, and is currently chaired by Republican Mike Rogers of Michigan. A full roster of members is listed in the endnotes of this article[iv].
It is critically important, however, to understand that the Executive branch—the White House—has the discretion and power to control information “classification,” and withhold access to information and operational details from Congressional members and committees. Accordingly, the White House is able to directly control what Congress and in the case of Benghazi, what the HPSCI has and has not been permitted to view, regardless of the security clearances of its members. This often creates a very narrow and restricted view of various intelligence activities, as in the case of Benghazi. In short, the HPSCI has been restricted in what information they were permitted to view and review, therefore rendering their findings to only the information they have been able to access. Yet, none of this has been explained in the corporate media, or by the aforementioned jocular journalists.
It is for this reason that it has become necessary to convene a House Select Committee on Benghazi. Led by Trey Gowdy, the Select Committee on Benghazi will have subpoena power, the ability to question principals under oath, examine and cross-examine key individuals about the events leading up to and subsequent to the attacks.
According to their own four-page investigative timeline covering dates from 12 September 2012 through 2 April 2014,[v] the HPSCI reports that they began their investigation the day after the deadly attacks. The investigation originated by an e-mail sent by the Director of National Intelligence to the HPSCI staff, starting a timeline of investigation. This timeline of investigation lists 108 “investigative events,” mostly consisting of the multiple submissions of “Questions for the record” (QFRs) to the various intelligence agencies under their purview, and the answers they reportedly received from September 12, 2012 through and including April 2, 2014. Stated differently, the majority of this investigation consists of a bunch of back-and-forth note passing.
Certain items in this investigative timeline warrant comment. Highlights contained within this investigative timeline include the delivery, by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), a 4,000 page “Benghazi Intelligence Review” binder to the HPSCI on 18 October 2012; a review of the book Benghazi, The Definitive Report on 5 March, 2013, and the publication of a HPSCI-led Interim Report on House Investigations into Benghazi attacks dated 23 April 2013.”[vi]
As stated, there are numerous entries citing inter-agency correspondence and briefings, reviews of other reports and materials, but there is notably limited direct investigative involvement of key individuals under oath or in a hearing setting. True to its commission, it appears to be involved in mostly oversight as opposed to original investigative activities. Additionally, there does appear to exist partisan dissent within the committee.
Item #58 of the HPSCI investigative timeline notes the 23 April 2013 release of the 46-page HPSCI-led Interim Report on House Investigations into [the] Benghazi attacks which contains the following findings that have been glossed over by the recent media coverage:
“An ongoing Congressional investigation across five House Committees concerning the events surrounding the September 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya has made several determinations to date, including:
These preliminary findings illustrate the need for continued examination and oversight by the five House Committees. The Committees will continue to review who exactly was responsible for the failure to respond to the repeated requests for more security and for the effort to cover up the nature of the attacks, so that appropriate officials will be held accountable.”
A careful review of entries #59-#108 has failed to find any exculpatory evidence favorable to the White House, the Department of State, and the CIA. Considering the above interim findings combined with further review, it is reasonable to question the statement made by Rep. Mike Thompson who publicly stated that the report “confirms that no one was deliberately misled, no military assets were withheld and no stand-down order (to U.S. forces) was given.[vii]” Considering the distinction between HPSCI on Benghazi and HPSCI “led,” and in particular, the committee was deliberately hobbled by the lack of facts available to them from the beginning based on the White House sanctioned sins of omission, could one expect anything less than the deep-sixing of other findings except for a public release from wrongdoing?
In no way am I excusing the anticipated report of Executive branch “innocence” by the Republican majority HPSCI. Instead, I’m explaining it. In no way am I rejoicing in the anticipated revelations, for they will not tell the whole story as the servants for their savior want you to believe.
There is yet another wrinkle to this convoluted connivance that transcends political parties and government branches that has yet to be fully discussed. It is an inconvenient fact that pulls into the dirty affairs of covert intelligence operations certain members of Congress, known as the Gang of Eight.
When a U.S. President seeks to authorize covert CIA operations, there is a legal way of doing so that would clear him of engaging in any wrongdoing, a word that is interestingly associated with the HPSCI findings on Benghazi. It was first introduced in section 503 of the 1947 National Security Act that made it legal for the president to authorize covert CIA actions by properly informing the intelligence committees of Congress. That Act was amended in 1980, however, and permitted him to limit advance notification of covert actions to eight-(8) Members of Congress, otherwise known as the “Gang of Eight.” The “Gang of Eight” are the chairmen and ranking minority Members of the two congressional intelligence committees, the Speaker and minority leader of the House, and Senate majority and minority leaders. At the time of Benghazi, those informed would have been: House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).
In addition to the President, the Secretary of State, the CIA and the DNI, each of the above members would have to have been “read-in” on covert CIA operations taking place in Libya, and therefore share in the responsibility of the attack. Many Americans continue to maintain a vise-like grip on the right-left political paradigm, failing to understand that their selected leaders like John Boehner were in on the plan from the beginning. Having provided the proper notification to the Gag of Eight, it is easy to see how the President has fulfilled his legal obligation to authorize an arms operation out of Libya, and easier still to understand how the House Committee could “find” that he is guilty of no legal wrongdoing.
As we’ve historically seen in various covert operations from the Bay of Pigs to Iran-Contra, there exist rogue elements within the CIA and the government that expand their operational authority while operating under the cover of their initial authority. Anyone who disbelieves that the United States was engaged in the largest arms running operation in history based on the findings of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence needs a course in remedial history.
The findings of the HPSCI will be undoubtedly declassified and released just in time for the Benghazi Select Committee led by Trey Gowdy to start. Despite what you have learned about the HPSCI, there will be vocal objections to yet another investigation, another committee, and more money needlessly spent. Public conversations will hinge on the HPSCI findings, as well as other dishonest conversation using deceptive language, never getting to the root of the matter.
If you want to know the truth about what happened at Benghazi, or even more importantly, why it happened, you’ve got to understand the bigger picture. The Renegade-in-Chief, working closely with his Department of State and CIA, agreed to use our military and intelligence assets to advance the agenda of Saudi Arabia and a cabal of Sunni Muslim nation-states across the Middle East. A large part of this plan involved the Arab Spring, meant to destabilize the region and place the Muslim Brotherhood in power. The objective in gaining control of Libya was to establish a supply line of munitions and trained men into Jordan, Turkey and ultimately, into Syria to topple Bashar al Assad. This has placed us in a proxy war against Russia, as Syria has always been Putin’s “line in the sand,” and mercenaries for Saudi Arabia.
Unfortunately, the dialogue about Benghazi has been deliberately manipulated into a series of meaningless talking points that include, but are not limited to, “security failures,” lack of diplomatic security, “intelligence failures,” and dialogue intended to detract from the bigger picture. Meanwhile, the jubilant journalists who are compensating for their premature elation by relishing in the forthcoming HPSCI report should not be so selfish in their delight. Like them, the bipartisan HPSCI is not privy to the entire play, nor do they hold the full script. The truth will only be revealed by an aggressive and subpoena heavy cast of characters compelled to expose all that they know. Whether the Benghazi Select Committee led by Gowdy can pull it off remains to be seen.
[iv] Republicans: Mike Rogers, Chairman, 8th District of Michigan; Mac Thornberry, 13th District of Texas; Jeff Miller, 1st District of Florida; Mike Conaway, 11th District of Texas; Peter King, 3rd District of New York; Frank LoBiondo, 2nd District of New Jersey; Devin Nunes, 21st District of California; Lynn Westmoreland, 3rd District of Georgia; Michele Bachmann, 6th District of Minnesota; Thomas J Rooney, 16th District of Florida; Joe Heck, 3rd District of Nevada; Mike Pompeo, 4th District of Kansas; Democrats: C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Ranking Member, 2nd District of Maryland; Mike Thompson, 1st District of California; Jan Schakowsky, 9th District of Illinois; Jim Langevin, 2nd District of Rhode Island; Adam Schiff, 28th District of California; Luis Gutierrez, 4th District of Illinois; Ed Pastor, 7th District of Arizona; Jim Himes, 4th District of Connecticut; Terri Sewell, 7th District of Alabama
[v] House Intelligence
[vi] House Intelligence