Exclusive Interview: Rep. Frank Wolf Calls for Select Committee to Investigate Benghazi
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview late last week that time is running out in the push for answers on the scandal surrounding the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, and a select committee is the only way forward to get the full truth out for the American people.
“The current process hasn't worked,” Wolf said of the House GOP leadership’s current strategy of having five different House committees investigate the scandal.
People up here may think it’s worked but the American people do not think it’s worked. Members of the families don’t know really what happened. They don’t understand. They don’t know what happened. You've had four Americans killed and maybe weapons that have gone in to aid the people in Syria that are doing really pretty bad things to a lot of people.
Wolf has a bill—H. Res 36—that would create a select committee to investigate the scandal. He introduced it in January 2013, and it has since garnered the support of 179 House Republicans including himself. Several House committee chairmen and scores of other influential House Republicans have cosponsored Wolf’s resolution. The list of sponsors includes: Agriculture Committee chairman Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Science, Space and Technology Committee chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Transportation Committee chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), and Small Business Committee chairman Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO).
The current Benghazi investigative strategy from House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy has been to split different parts of the investigation up amongst five separate House committees. The House Armed Services Committee, Judiciary Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee, Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence are the five committees Boehner and the rest of House GOP leadership have designated to investigate the Benghazi scandal. Those committees’ chairmen, respectively, are: Reps. Buck McKeon (R-CA), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Ed Royce (R-CA), Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Mike Rogers (R-MI). None of those five committee chairmen are cosponsors to Wolf’s select committee resolution, nor are any members of House GOP leadership.
In a blistering letter to Boehner reported exclusively by Breitbart News last week, three family members of the victims in Benghazi and several military community and conservative movement leaders banded together to demand the Speaker allow Wolf’s select committee resolution to come up for a vote.
“We write to express our grave concern over the failure of your House of Representatives to extract the truth from the Obama administration concerning the attack on our diplomatic and intelligence facilities in Benghazi, Libya; and, the brutal deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, and security officers Ty Woods and Glen Doherty,” that coalition wrote to Boehner in their demand for a select committee.
“To date, five (5) different committees of the House have conducted separate hearings, uncovering information in a piecemeal fashion lacking professional investigators,” the coalition added in the letter. “The five committees’ efforts are disjointed and uncoordinated. The Obama administration has benefited from that dysfunctional process to hide the truth."
Wolf agrees that because the current process has not worked, there needs to be a renewed effort to get a focused investigation through a select committee.
“Whenever you do something, you do it on a unified approach,” Wolf told Breitbart News in his exclusive phone interview.
You don’t just separate this into one committee, this into another committee, because the administration can tell one committee one thing and the other committee another thing. And you don’t limit people to five minutes to answer and ask questions because maybe you want to take a line of questioning to go for a half an hour to develop the thought. Then maybe one member says ‘I didn’t realize that and based on that, I want to follow though and ask.’ So we need a unified effort and what the select committee does is it takes people from the Intelligence Committee, people from the Armed Services Committee, from the Oversight Committee, from the Foreign Affairs Committee, from the Judiciary Committee and, also, we added the Homeland Security Committee. You sort of bring everything together. Now, we’re at the 16-month period.
Wolf said he is unsure who would chair such a select committee and which members would comprise it. “I won’t serve on the committee,” he added. “I wouldn’t want to be on the committee. I’m not asking to be on it. That would be up to the Speaker and the leadership.”
Nonetheless, Boehner and the rest of House GOP leadership continue blocking the efforts to create a select committee and refuse to bring Wolf’s resolution up for vote despite the fact it already has the support of more than 75 percent of the House GOP conference. When asked why GOP leadership is not allowing a vote on his resolution, Wolf said: “I think you’d be better asking them. I don’t know.”
Boehner has been tight-lipped on the matter, but in response to last week’s letter from the victims’ families and conservative and military leaders demanding a select committee, an anonymous House GOP leadership aide said the concerns they raised in their letter were “absurd and inaccurate.”
“The committees’ efforts are coordinated by a full-time leadership staffer, administration witnesses have testified publicly and privately, and the committees have both professional investigators and subpoena authority,” the GOP leadership aide said, according to the Washington Examiner. Per the description from the Examiner, the aide must have come from Boehner’s, Cantor’s, or McCarthy’s office.
Boehner’s office has not responded to repeated inquiries over the past week from Breitbart News regarding the identity of, and details about, that so-called “full-time leadership staffer” who is supposedly coordinating the various committees’ Benghazi investigative efforts.
Wolf told Breitbart News that a select committee “would look at the whole operation” and everything that happened relating to Benghazi, including the potential of gunrunning from Libya to Syria. “Wouldn't that shock the American people if we purchased and then sent into Syria, whereby the death toll in Syria has been about 120,000 people, and had any of these weapons gone into the hands of al Qaeda related groups in Syria?” Wolf said. “You would look at everything [in a select committee]. You would not compromise sources and methods, everything would be protected. Otherwise, the American people will never know what happened.”
If a select committee is not installed soon, Wolf worries that the American people will never have the truth about Benghazi. He points to the recent New York Times article that attempted to downplay terrorist involvement in the attack as evidence that the House needs to up the ante with its investigative efforts.
“Now the New York Times has done their piece, they have reignited the interest and many people are saying that will be the final story,” Wolf said. “That will be it. And that runs counter to things you’re hearing. Unless you have a public hearing with all of the principles there to testify publicly under oath, giving them adequate time to answer in depth questions back and forth, and then also you need to bring in their deputies because they were involved.”
Wolf said he has spoken with those who were on the ground in Benghazi, who say the full truth has not come out yet and that the Times story is not accurate. However, those people are still afraid to come forward and need the protection a select committee would provide for them to do so.
“Lastly, you have to bring in the men who were there on the scene,” Wolf said.
I just spoke with one the other day who was really upset with the New York Times piece, but he still won’t come forward because people are afraid for different reasons. But they have to be encouraged to come forward, subpoenaed and give them the opportunity to publicly testify. Also, these men are really heroes. They saved a lot of people. And I think they ought to have an opportunity to tell their story publicly before the American people. You can protect sources and things like that. There’s nothing here that would jeopardize anything and I think they ought to have the opportunity to come forward. If there were an identity or two [that could be compromised], I’ve put people behind a screen so people can’t see who they really are. But I think otherwise, you and the American people will never know what happened. And now you’re running out of time. You’re coming into the new year and pretty soon you’ll be into an election period. Campaigns heat up. And I think unless we do it [create a select committee], we’re never going to find out what happened.