Yesterday, the House Select Committee on Benghazi held their first public hearing. Two years after the terrorist attacks on the American Embassy in Benghazi, Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was tasked with finding out the facts from the day four Americans were killed.
And here’s the readout:
“This is exactly what congressional oversight should be: a bipartisan effort by legislators to make sure executive-branch officials don’t repeat past mistakes. The resulting bonhomie was unprecedented in the two years of Benghazi bickering.
“‘I thank you for holding this hearing today,’ Elijah Cummings (Md.), the panel’s hard-nosed ranking Democrat, told Gowdy. ‘. . . I want to thank our colleague Representative Schiff for proposing the topic for today’s hearing, and, Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for accepting that topic.'”
“Rather than photographs of burning buildings and rampaging mobs in Libya, the hearing of the Select Committee on Benghazi featured organization charts. And rather than revisiting the events that led to the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11, 2012, the questions mostly focused on a less discussed issue – whether the State Department has improved security procedures since.”
“The panel itself had a sleepy start. Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, the committee’s chairman and a former prosecutor known for his fiery (and occasionally teary) orations, began by acknowledging that some of his Democratic colleagues ‘question the need for this committee.’ Then he vowed to honor the four Americans killed by keeping an open mind ‘in pursuit of the facts and justice, no matter where that journey may take us.’
“Yet Mr. Gowdy’s promise that he would “rather run the risk of answering a question twice than run the risk of not answering it once” seemed to signal that the committee’s hearings were likely to extend well into next year — and well into the 2016 presidential cycle, in which Mrs. Clinton appears poised to emerge at the top of the Democratic field.”
“The hearing avoided the blame games, political posturing, and conspiracies that have been a hallmark of previous Republican-led investigations into Benghazi. If anything, not enough attention has been focused on the steps taken since Sept. 11, 2012, to secure our diplomatic facilities.
“Gowdy’s first hearing asked exactly the right question, one that both Democrats and Republicans agree on: Are these recommendations being implemented with due haste? In fact, in a rare show of bipartisanship, the hearing was held at the recommendation of one of the committee’s Democrats, Rep. Adam Schiff.”
“The first hearing of a special congressional committee investigating the 2012 attack on an American consulate in Libya could have dissolved into partisan bickering, finger pointing and cut microphones on Wednesday. But it did not.
“Instead the committee, led by Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), focused on how the State Department can better protect U.S. diplomats as it implements recommendations from an independent review board. The 2012 attack in Benghazi killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and has long been political fodder for conservative criticism of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy record.”
“‘We do not suffer from a lack of recommendations. We do suffer from a lack of implementing and enacting recommendations. That has to end,’ committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said.”
“Instead of hostile, blockbuster exchanges with witnesses and sparring between lawmakers, the Wednesday hearing from the House Select Committee on Benghazi is the clearest sign to date that Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C) has no intention of allowing his investigation to turn into a political sideshow.
“‘I remain hopeful there are still things left in our country that can transcend politics,’ Gowdy said. ‘I remain convinced our fellow citizens deserve all of the facts of what happened before, during, and after the attacks in Benghazi and they deserve an investigative process worthy of the memory of those who died and worthy of the trust of our fellow citizens.'”
“Those looking for fireworks from the first hearing of the special Benghazi committee were disappointed, as the low-key session focused on the State Department’s implementation of security recommendations.
“’To those who believe it is time to move on, to those who believe there is nothing left to discover,’ said Gowdy, ‘we have heard all of that before, and it was wrong then.’”
“And two years after the attack, new accusations are still coming to light. Raymond Maxwell, a former State Department deputy assistant secretary, recently told Sharyl Attkisson that State Department employees had instructed him to scrub negative information from documents before they were handed over to investigators.”
“Trey Gowdy had made the first public meeting focus on one of the least juicy aspects of the Benghazi story: ‘Implementation of the Accountabilty Review Board recommendations.’
“This was sort of the point.”
“The head of a new House committee created to investigate the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, chastised critics who have questioned the panel’s relevance, saying he won’t apologize for being redundant in order to ensure all questions are answered.
“Gowdy suggested the State Department hasn’t taken the recommendations seriously.
“’We do not suffer from a lack of recommendations. We do suffer from a lack of implementing and enacting those recommendations, and that has to end,’ the chairman said.”