Petraeus Resignation Won’t Interfere With Benghazi Probe, Say Lawmakers – OpEd
By Jim Kouri
In response to the surprise announcement on Friday that Gen. David Petraeus officially resigned from his position as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, many observers wondered if he would still participate in the House and Senate probes into the tragic Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attack.
The popular military leader shocked many when he revealed he had an extramarital affair with West Point graduate and author Paula Broadwell, who had written a book about Gen. Petraeus’ service in Afghanistan.
There are some within the intelligence community, the military and law enforcement assigned to counterterrorism units who accused Petraeus of failing to respond decisively to calls for assistance from CIA operatives posted in Libya amid the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.
A spokesperson for the House Foreign Relations Committee said that all hearings will proceed as scheduled, although Director Petraeus’ resignation will probably change the witness list. It’s not immediately clear if the CIA will send a replacement witness to testify, but a source told Law Enforcement Examiner that the CIA’s Deputy Director Mike Morell may be called to give testimony.
Appearing on Fox & Friends, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) had blasted President Barack Obama and his administration, including the CIA director, for playing politics with the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans, including U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens, dead.
Complaining about the lack of candor emanating from the Obama White House the State Department, the Defense Department and the CIA, Kelly said, “I am appalled by the dereliction of duty that’s taken place by this administration. We’ve got to get to the bottom of this and we’ve got to get it fixed.” Kelly, a first-term congressman, serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Rep. Kelly claims that in a May 3, 2012, email, the State Department denied a request by a group of Special Forces assigned to protect the U.S. embassy in Libya to continue their use of a DC- 3 airplane for security operations throughout the country.
The subject line of the email, on which slain Ambassador Chris Stevens was copied, read: “Termination of Tripoli DC-3 Support.”
“Four days later, on May 7, the State Department authorized the U.S. embassy in Vienna to purchase a $108,000 electric vehicle charging station for the embassy motor pool’s new Chevrolet Volts. The purchase was a part of the State Department’s Energy Efficiency Sweep of Europe initiative, which included hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on green program expenditures at various U.S. Embassies,” Kelly stated.
While the embassy in Vienna was going green, the consulate in Benghazi was getting bombed, and little was done to stop it, according to Kelly.
According to Rep. Issa, the Oversight Committee will expand the focus of the investigation of the attack — that left four men dead, including Amb. Chris Stevens — to include officials in the Obama White House, as well as the Hillary Clinton-led U.S. State Department.
Following the testimony of State Department staffers about the lack of diplomatic security at the Benghazi consulate, Issa sent President Obama an official letter demanding to know why the administration reduced U.S. security in Libya while the country was still emerging from a civil war. The State Department contracted a small security firm to provide untrained and ill-prepared guards recruited from the Libyan population.
Issa said a witness at the committee’s hearing testified that the decision not to call back a 16-person security team over the embassy’s objection was made as part of efforts to normalize relations with Libya, despite Democrats’ denials.
“Americans … deserve a complete explanation about your administration’s decision to accelerate a normalized presence in Libya at what now appears to be at the cost of endangering lives,” Issa wrote. “These critical foreign policy decisions are not made by low- or mid-level career officials — they are typically made through a structured and well-reasoned process that includes the National Security Council at the White House. The ultimate responsibility rests with you as the president of the United States.”
The letter to Obama was accompanied by the release of 116 pages of documents detailing the embassy’s requests for more security.
In his letter, Issa respectfully requested that President Obama provide answers to questions about the decision to remove security personnel from Libya, and how deeply the National Security Council was involved. National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon is being touted as a possible Secretary of State in a second Obama administration, but Republicans have alleged that Donilon is the official who leaked classified information regarding a cyberattack on Iran and a foiled plot by al Qaeda’s wing in Yemen to blow up a U.S.-bound flight.
Issa’s committee letter to Obama also stated that the White House “has not been straightforward with the American people in the aftermath of the attack. The issue of who knew what and when about the details of the attack has become a central source of partisan sparring on Libya, with the administration saying it simply made intelligence public as it became available.”
What has angered many of Obama’s critics was his trip campaign trip to Las Vegas in the middle of the Libyan violence against America. Obama supporters claim he was always in touch with his security team.
But former police chief Ronald Miller said, “Whether Obama thought it was a protest, a terrorist
attack or didn’t know which, he should have called every intelligence and state department official involved into the oval office and stayed until he learned the facts and had taken action to protect all foreign service personnel.”