‘I think Gowdy has been warned away or threatened’
U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairs the House Select Committee on Benghazi
The independent Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, or CCB, has been doing its own investigation and working behind the scenes for the past year and a half to make sure Congress does the job the executive branch has failed to do: Namely, to get to the truth of what happened and to hold people accountable.
A major step forward took place last May when Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced the creation of a Select Committee to investigate, after about 190 House Republicans, under the leadership of then-Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., had co-sponsored legislation for just such action.
The CCB’s members include former military commanders and Special Forces operatives; former CIA and intelligence officers; as well as well-known experts in international terrorism; and experts in media and government affairs (a complete list of members is below).
In exclusive interviews conducted with 11 of the 17 members of the Commission, it is clear that while the CCB is still enthusiastic to work with Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, and hopeful that Boehner is serious about the investigation, various members of the CCB, speaking on their own behalf and not as spokesmen for the Commission, are expressing concerns, wanting to make sure the Gowdy investigation is not compromised by elements within the GOP.
It was a lack of trust in the congressional investigation of Benghazi that prompted the formation of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi in 2013. The founding members of the CCB were U.S Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, U.S. Navy four-star Admiral James Lyons, U.S. Air Force General Tom McInerney (all retired) and Accuracy in Media Editor Roger Aronoff.
Gen. Vallely told WND that he believes Gowdy “has received much pressure not to get to the truth, and we are now coming to the conclusion that there is no longer any intention in Washington, by the leadership of both the Democratic and Republican Parties, to get to the truth.”
“An honest investigation into Benghazi would prove treasonous acts at the very top of the White House and the State Department, and a continuing cover-up in Congress that now involves the Republican leadership and especially House Speaker John Boehner,” Vallely said.
Among the CCB’s most significant findings, released last April in an Interim Report, was that “the U.S. facilitated the delivery of weapons and military support to Al Qaeda-linked rebels in Libya,” and that “on the day of the attacks in Benghazi, whether or not there was an official order to stand down, the result was the same. There were military assets, for example, at the U.S. base in Sigonella, in Sicily, Italy, that could have been brought to bear, and perhaps could have saved the lives of the two men killed at the CIA Annex, the scene of the second attack that night. The failure to attempt to rescue these Americans amounts to a dereliction of duty.”
The commission has found evidence that there was a stand-down order given to the Annex Security Guards at the CIA Annex after the attack began at the Special Mission Compound, one mile away, where Ambassador Chris Stevens and information officer Sean Smith were killed.
The purpose of the mission in Benghazi appears to have involved a scheme managed by U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stephens, first to supply weapons to al-Qaida-related groups and others who sought to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi, and later to Syrian rebels.
Republican leaders are covering up the White House’s offenses, some commission members believe, because the White House made them aware of the gun-running and they gave assent to it.
Gowdy proceeding ‘at glacial speed’
Vallely explained that the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi was formed “after we saw all the stumbling and deception that was going on” with the initial round of Benghazi hearings held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee in January 2013.
The Citizens’ Commission, he said, meets every couple of weeks, and “we’ve gone in and investigated on our own, conducting interviews and uncovering facts.”
The other founding members of the commission share Vallely’s concern.
“Trey Gowdy’s Select Committee is proceeding at glacial speed,” said Lyons, former commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. “It is unclear where Gowdy is going, and the signs are not good.”
Aronoff believes that Gowdy might yet conduct a thorough investigation into Benghazi that would produce the truth, and was encouraged by closed-door meetings that were held last week between the Select Committee and both the State Department and the Justice Department. But he also expressed some concerns.
“At the time Gowdy was picked, all of us were ecstatic,” Aronoff said. “Gowdy was the one guy that, if we were asked, the Citizens’ Commission would have said was the right guy.”
He said that after the first meeting of the House Select Committee, Gowdy was saying the right things, suggesting he would hold a public hearing within a month.
“Whether there was some sort of a deal cut at the beginning of Gowdy heading the select committee we don’t know,” he said.
“We’ve been publicly hesitant to criticize Gowdy, because we’re still hopeful he’s going to be the right guy,” Aronoff emphasized. “We’re trying now to pressure them from the sidelines, and we don’t want to come out blasting Gowdy, saying that the ‘fix is in.’ We still feel the select committee is there, and we want to give Gowdy the benefit of the doubt to see what he does.”
Aronoff explained he was disappointed that Gowdy chose to devote his first two public hearings to examining the State Department Accountability Review Board process.
“Those hearings were pretty bland, not really getting to the heart of the matter,” Aronoff said.
Citizens’ Commission member Pete Hoekstra, who served for 18 years as a congressman from Michigan, and who was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee before retiring from Congress, told WND he retains confidence Gowdy will produce a good investigation.
“I’m not anywhere close to giving up on the work of Gowdy’s committee,” Hoekstra said. “The good thing is that Gowdy and his select committee have jurisdiction across all the different departments and agencies of government that are or might be involved in the Benghazi attack.”
Hoekstra said he still believes Gowdy’s committee “will be the first to give the entire Benghazi incident a complete and thorough look.”
Next hearings classified, closed to public
Jamal Ware, communications director for the Republican majority on the House Select Committee investigation of Benghazi, explained to WND in an email the next hearing likely will be a closed, classified hearing.
He said it’s possible that the subsequent hearing will be open to the public, but he has no details to release because the decision making is still in progress.
Retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles Jones, another Citizens’ Commission member, also expressed concerns about Gowdy’s investigation.
“I think Gowdy is serious, and I think he is a real patriot, but I think he has been warned away from the final conclusion or he’s been threatened,” Jones told WND.
“I’ve been working very closely with the Citizens’ Commission, and I think Gowdy, if he doesn’t go any further than he has, has either been warned within the Republican Party or threatened externally.”
Jones explained he has concerns whether Boehner is enthusiastic about supporting Gowdy’s investigation, despite the instrumental role the House speaker played in constituting the select committee and his public insistence that Gowdy will get to the truth of what happened in Benghazi.
Written by JEROME R. CORSI
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