Where Congress Won’t Tread in Benghazi Hearings - WhoWhatWhy

Where Congress Won’t Tread in Benghazi Hearings

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Secretary of State John Kerry testifies in the Senate in 1976. AP.

Secretary of State John Kerry testifies in the Senate in 1976. AP.

Secretary of State John Kerry is almost certain to be a witness in front of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, after being released from a subpoena to testify before the House Oversight Committee on June 12.

Never mind that he wasn’t the Secretary of State when more than 100 gunmen attacked the US consulate in Benghazi and killed four people, including Ambassador Christopher Stephens, on Sept 11, 2012. SecState on that day was potential 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The noisy fight between both parties over the necessity for Kerry’s testimony, exemplifies the one thing we know about Benghazi today: We’re no closer to the truth than we were 21 months ago.

Formally known as the Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi, the House panel is the fifth congressional probe into the attack. The four already in existence have produced the requisite reports, yet partisan bickering and finger-pointing over the narrative is all we’ve been hearing from the mainstream press.

As we posited in an earlier article, there’s a possibility that what really happened in Benghazi is unflattering to both Republicans and Democrats, and is being covered up by both sides. Will the fifth Congressional committee’s investigation produce answers, or will it be full of sound and fury, signifying nothing?

We know what kind of questions the committee wants to ask, thanks to Republican Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia, who authored the bill creating the panel. But what’s more interesting is the questions the committee won’t be asking, and why.


The history of Congressional inquiries into national security issues provides a clear lesson—Congress is happy to look for blame anywhere but where it would reflect poorly on its own involvement and funding responsibilities.

Based on that history, and information that has emerged since the Benghazi attack, it is a good bet that Congress will not address the following two issues in their upcoming hearings:

The first issue likely to be avoided is the Benghazi-based CIA covert-action project, compromised by both the death of the American ambassador to Libya, Stephens, and the immediate political response of Congress following the attacks on the State Department complex – which we now know to have been a State Department cover for a covert CIA weapons interdiction operation run out of the “embassy annex.”

There is every indication that a pro-active covert action was in play, involving not only CIA personnel but the ambassador himself. Stephens acted as a conduit to Libyans who had come to trust him when the U.S. and NATO worked with them during the insurgency against Muammar Qaddafi.


A pre-emptive covert operation to interdict heavy weapons from distribution to radical jihadi insurgencies across North Africa is not something the critics of the Obama administration will want to tout. Moreover, it’s something the administration and any agencies involved are legally prohibited from discussing, other than with the limited number of legislators sitting on specific intelligence oversight committees.

They’re also prohibited from talking about such matters publicly. The same constraints would apply to the portion of the operation that seemed to involve procurement of Russian-made weapons intended to be placed with select, non-jihadi insurgents within Syria.

A discussion of the intelligence operation would also expose the Administration’s reason for not identifying an al-Qaeda link to the attack, either in the initial press statements, or in remarks at the U.N. and in any material provided by the CIA. It would be embarrassing for a number of Congress members to admit that they either a) do not understand how compartmentalized security prevents them from getting a straight answer, or b) are simply eager to spin events relating to national security issues for immediate political gratification.

Unfortunately, Congress has a history of ignoring reality in favor of self-serving spin, extending as far back as its feigned ignorance of the covert State Department/CIA military operations in Laos in the 1960s. The truth is, any secret presidential findings about Libya and Syria would be barred from release, and any Congressional intelligence oversight committee members in the know will simply not be called to testify.


The second issue to be avoided is the lack of institutional memory in Congress and the degree to which privatization has been allowed to overtake what were formerly the military’s responsibilities for the security of American embassies and facilities overseas.

The Committee will most likely not call Richard A. Clarke, the former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism.

In 1999, Clarke was assigned to conduct a hard-nosed, pragmatic assessment of embassy security, sending multi-agency teams around the world to look at American facilities from the terrorists’ viewpoint. As a result, the Clinton Administration strengthened security at some places, closed posts that could not be made safe, and suspended diplomatic and consular services in nations where the governments were unwilling to provide security.

That project required money, and it was funded by the Clinton administration and Congress. But, as Clarke relates in his book, “Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror,” these funds were removed from the budget in 2000, and embassy protection slipped to a lower priority – where it has remained ever since.

What are the odds the new Congressional committee will want to hear what Mr. Clarke would tell them — with the whole world watching?

THUMBNAIL: Kerry from 1976

WhoWhatWhy plans to continue doing this kind of groundbreaking original reporting. You can count on us. Can we count on you? What we do is only possible with your support.

Please click here to donate; it’s tax deductible. And it packs a punch.

Where else do you see journalism of this quality and value?

Please help us do more. Make a tax-deductible contribution now.

Our Comment Policy

Keep it civilized, keep it relevant, keep it clear, keep it short. Please do not post links or promotional material. We reserve the right to edit and to delete comments where necessary.


12 responses to “Where Congress Won’t Tread in Benghazi Hearings”

  1. Avatar prairiedog says:

    So a group of terrorists killed another group of terrorists….So.

  2. Avatar Jim Ward says:

    Yes, please call on Former Bush official Richard Clarke to testify!!!

    On TV today, Clarke called the Benghazi committee a political ploy to “smear” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

    “There is nothing more. This has been completely examined, examined many times and we shouldnt even dignify this by pretending it is a serious effort.”

    “Everyone in Washington, on both sides of the aisle, knows this is a political stunt and that’s all that it is. It’s a political stunt using the lives of dead Americans.”

    “And there is no reason in my mind to give the Republicans — or anybody that says this serious — any credibility whatsoever. Just call it for what it is. This has all been examined five ways from Friday. The only point in continuing this discussion is to try to smear the former Secretary of State. That is all this is about.”

  3. Avatar McFerguson says:

    The Select Committee wants to question Kerry about why, under his jurisdiction, the State Department was not and has not been forthcoming with requested e-mails and other documents related to the Benghazi attack.

  4. Avatar Britton George says:

    The only we’re not getting the truth is because the truth is too damning to reveal. Benghazi was involved in gun running to terrorist rebels in Syria and Libya. Chris Stephens was killed cause he wouldn’t go along with the deal when he was the lead negotiator with Turkish officials.

    • Avatar edwardrynearson says:

      A mossad hit?

    • Avatar Harper Collins says:

      Are you making stuff up or do you have any evidence of this that someone can touch, see, or hear? Otherwise, I have no reason to suspect that anyone other than who I originally thought was responsible, Wilford Brimley consortium of evil.

  5. Avatar danny j says:

    As this article suggests, Benghazi was a CIA arms-running scheme gone bad. Weapons used to “regime change” Libya were being shipped to “regime change” Syria. BTW: remember that Islamic radical stronghold Benghazi was the “10,000 civilians” Obama wanted to save from Gaddafi, necessitating our air strikes.

    Richard Clarke is not to be trusted. He is in bed with UAE monarchs. Remember when Clinton failed to drop some cruise missiles on bin Laden’s camp because some “innocents” were there? Those “innocents” were UAE royals who were friends with and funders of bin Laden, and it was Richard Clarke who called off the attack. Funny Clarke didn’t mention that when he famously testified, “I failed you.”


    Oh, and those UAE royals were the people W. Bush wanted to give U.S. ports to.

  6. Avatar tpc4545 says:

    They don’t want Kerry, he’s an idiot,why do you suppose they picked him for SECRETARY OF STATE for his brains……….