As news breaks of an arrest in the attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi that killed, among others, Ambassador Christopher Stevens, questions continue to surface regarding those responsible for investigating the incident. Of particular note is House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers.
On Tuesday, Judicial Watch’s Micah Morrison questioned whether Rogers had a deliberate impact on keeping Congress at bay when investigating the attack on the Benghazi consulate due to his connections to the private contracting industry. Rogers, a Republican, has earned his share of ire from the civil libertarian far-left; Glenn Greenwald once described him in typical dramatic fashion as “notorious in Washington for literally making things up and smearing political opponents and journalists he doesn’t like.”
Rep. Rogers’ commitment to the Benghazi investigation has come under fire from sources far closer to the center than Greenwald, however. While he once attacked a faulty New York Times article on the matter and appeared to pursue his own investigation, he has been named among several Republican congressional leaders who wanted nothing to do with a select committee to investigate Benghazi. The Daily Beast reported that Rogers’ opposition to the committee led him to warn its members to avoid falling into “conspiracy theories” and exercise caution in suggesting potential scenarios for blame.
Morrison raises a question that has boiled beneath the surface about Rogers for months: whether the work of his wife in private security contracting impacted his hesitance to promote the Benghazi select committee.
According to Businessweek, for many years, Kristi Clemens Rogers was president and CEO of Aegis Defense Services LLC. Aegis’s website touts its extensive work in North Africa. While the description of its work keeps the country’s name a secret, the site’s URL clearly gives away that they conducted work in Libya. In “country,” the company “used a combination of expats and local nationals to produce the best results. … We have extensive information networks in-country as well as excellent relationships with key local influencers.”
Not much information is available about Aegis’s work in Libya or whether investigating private security in Benghazi would have an impact on the corporation. However, this is not the first time that Rogers has been accused of a conflict of interest in relation to his wife. The website Tech Dirt noted the Aegis link regarding an entirely separate national security issue: the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which would allow private security corporations and the government to share information about cyber attacks the same way such information passes to the NSA when related to conventional acts of terrorism. A private security corporation like Aegis would be precisely the sort of corporation that would benefit from a law that allows for further interaction between the state and private enterprises. This gives Rogers’ support for the bill a veneer of impropriety that is magnified when the overlap of the couple’s networks is also viewed through the lens of Benghazi.
Should the ties prove to have had an impact in Rep. Rogers’ decision to personally attempt to dissuade enthusiasm for investigating the death of a United States ambassador, he would not be the first involved in the endeavor to raise red flags. The executive director of the select committee, Philip Kiko, once lobbied for the American Civil Liberties Union, and he has an extensive background in bipartisan lobbying that ties him into a thick cobweb of D.C. insider interests. J. Michael Allen, one of the top congressional staffers on the investigative committee, had an even more direct tie to the relevant left, founding a consulting firm with former Clinton aides.
Months–if not years–of investigations by citizen journalists and some in Congress may one day reveal the true backdrop surrounding the terrorist attack that took the life of Ambassador Stevens. Perhaps all these appearances of impropriety will remain appearances. Yet America’s greatest political problem is precisely that appearance, now the calling card of Washington–an inescapable stench of hands washing hands and a complete vacuum of outsider ideas or interests represented.