The chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi lashed out at President Barack Obama’s willful failure to respond to document requests from the panel, whose work the chairman wanted completed by December.
“This committee’s thorough, fact-centered investigation has been repeatedly stonewalled by the Obama administration, Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, and Committee Democrats,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy (R.-S.C.), a former federal prosecutor and also a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The select committee was impaneled to investigate the events surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on American personnel and facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
Gowdy said the White House has accumulated 10,000 days of delay—totaling more than 27 years.
In the last nine months, requests from the committee have received documents delayed nearly 6,000 days, with the shortest delay of 136 days and the longest delay taking 534 days, he said.
One of the most vocal members of the committee, Rep. James Jordan (R.-Ohio), said he backed up his chairman and shared his frustration.
“Instead of addressing its failures to protect Americans abroad, has consistently stonewalled congressional efforts to uncover the truth,” Jordan said. He continued:
When former Secretary Clinton came before the Benghazi committee, she obfuscated instead of addressing the fact that she hid the truth from the American people and more importantly the families of those who died, while acknowledging to her family and to the prime minister of Libya and the president of Egypt that it was indeed a terrorist attack and had nothing to do with a video. This is what frustrates folks around the country. They understand that sometimes good men and women give their lives serving our country. But what they can’t accept is when their leaders aren’t straight with them and won’t own up to their mistakes.
Critical to the panel’s work is that members and staff must review documents before calling and questioning witnesses, so to further compound and confound the committee’s inquest, the administration then delays the appearance of witnesses.
Gowdy said Congress specifically reprogrammed $6.5 million in the State Department budget to elevate the administration’s practice of stalling documents and witnesses.
“Not only have they failed to identify a single administration witness worth talking to or a single document worth accessing in the past two years, they have affirmatively delayed the identification of witnesses and the production of unquestionably relevant documents,” he said.
The chairman said he was particularly upset by how Democrats on the committee have worked to thwart his efforts. “Committee Democrats have not lifted a finger to help the Select Committee speed up its investigation and release a report.”
Jordan said although Obama and the Democrats have hindered the investigation, the investigation continues to press forward.
“We would have wrapped up our investigation by now if we weren’t still waiting for documents from the State Department,” he said. “This administration has continually dragged its feet instead of helping us do our job and get to the truth about what happened when four Americans lost their lives in Benghazi. Despite this administration’s efforts, we are making headway and nearing the completion of our report.”
No other scandal intertwines the legacies of Obama with his former secretary of state Hillary Clinton as tightly or as exquisitely. Each one knows what the other did and did not do that long night in Benghazi. Each one needs to hold the uneasy truce in place until Election Day.
Maybe then, Gowdy and the rest of us will finally find out what really happened.