Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member, Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), released the following statement prior to the committee’s four-hour briefing, which begins at noon today, on the Department of Defense’s response to the tragedy in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11th:
“The Department of Defense and the Obama Administration have provided an immense amount of information regarding the response to the attack on U.S. personnel in Benghazi. As we begin to mark up the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, and work to address important issues such as sexual assault in the military, today’s briefing is unnecessary and, frankly, a redundant waste of time.
“In the days after the attack, the Department of Defense provided a detailed timeline of what happened, and this committee has gone to great length to execute its oversight authority. Based on that oversight, we know that the President quickly deployed our most capable, specifically trained, manned, and equipped force for this sort of crisis to save the lives of those under attack in Benghazi. Sadly, it did not arrive in time, but mobilizing the appropriate response and understanding the situation on the ground took more time than we had. That is a sad reality that the military would have faced under any President; it’s the tyranny of time and distance. Instead of acknowledging this fact, Republicans have tried to turn this into a scandal worthy of impeachment even when the facts clearly do not support their accusations.
“In 1983, there were two separate terrorist attacks in Beirut, Lebanon. The first attack took place in April, on our Embassy, and a second, in October, on the Marine Barracks. Together, these attacks killed 304 Americans. Afterwards, there were no calls for an impeachment, nor an eight-months-long political sideshow. We were not political parties seeking to win the next election, or raise money; we were Americans trying to understand why Americans died and how we could prevent such heinous acts in the future.
“Republicans in Congress have turned the death of an ambassador and three other Americans into a political witch hunt. For nearly eight months, we have watched Republicans desperately and obsessively search for a scandal, which has not appeared. It’s time to put this madness to an end. It is my hope that today’s briefing is the last act in a sad attempt to manufacture a scandal.”
The House Armed Services Committee has taken a number of steps to fully understand the Department of Defense response including:
- Systematic monitoring of intelligence traffic and multiple secure calls with DoD
- HASC staff briefings and discussions with outside experts
- HASC Chairman’s formal letters of inquiry to: President Barack Obama; General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Vice Admiral Kurt Tidd, Director of Operations, The Joint Staff; Lieutenant General Flynn, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency; General Carter Ham, Commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM); and Admiral William McRaven, Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM)
- September 12, 2012: Staff classified briefing on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in Libya
- September 19, 2012: Full Committee hearing on the attack in Benghazi
- October 18, 2012: Staff classified briefing on intelligence and operations related to the attack in Benghazi
- October 29, 2012: Chairman’s letter to the President
- November 20, 2012: Staff classified briefing on intelligence and operations related to the attack in Benghazi
- November 16, 2012: Staff participated in DoD briefing to House Members
- November 29, 2012: Full Committee, Members-only, briefing on the attack in Benghazi
- February 6, 2013: Full Committee briefing on intelligence and operations related to North and East Africa
- March 15, 2013: Full Committee hearing on the posture of U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and U.S.AFRICOM