House Armed Service chair denied access to Benghazi files

posted at 10:01 am on May 9, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

One question left mainly unaddressed by yesterday’s hearing on Benghazi — and by others, as well — is the lack of preparation by the Obama administration and the US military for the potential for attack in Benghazi.  After all, terrorist attacks had been increasing steadily since the fall of the Qaddafi regime in 2011.  Other Western nations had already withdrawn from Benghazi due to the security risks in the region, specifically from the radical Islamist terror networks able to operate freely in eastern Libya because of the removal of Qaddafi. Our own State Department personnel in Libya repeatedly warned Washington about the threat.

Put all of that together with the approach of the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and lights should have been flashing red across the board regarding our outpost in Benghazi.  Instead, the White House, State Department, and Pentagon have repeatedly claimed for months that the US had no assets in place to respond quickly to an attack, even though anyone with a calendar could have pointed out the risk.  One might wonder why the Pentagon didn’t connect those dots on its own, and that seems like a good question for the two Congressional committees overseeing the Department of Defense.

House Armed Services Chair Buck McKeon agrees.  The Pentagon apparently does not, not even to the limited extent of its response to the actual attack:

Pentagon officials have denied a request from a House Republican chairman for access to documents on last year’s terrorist attack in Benghazi.

“I am deeply disappointed in the Department’s response and am committed to continuing the Armed Services Committee’s oversight into the tragedy at Benghazi,” House Armed Services Committee chief Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said in a statement Wednesday.

In April, McKeon asked for all classified information that went into the Department of Defense (DOD) assessment of its response to the attack, which resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

“The department has made every effort to provide the committee a comprehensive understanding of [its] actions” in Benghazi, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs Elizabeth King said in a May 1 letter to McKeon and Ranking Member Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.).

Let’s not put too fine a point on context or even the event itself.  Congress oversees executive-branch agencies.  The House Armed Services Committee is not just entitled to that information, they are required to provide oversight of DoD operations.  The DoD is not required to produce just “a comprehensive understanding” of their actions, but the actual information, especially in the aftermath of such a spectacular failure.

This comes very close to obstruction.  Hopefully McKeon and HASC follows up with subpoenas and hearings of their own to find out why the Pentagon is refusing to cooperate with Congressional oversight.  And hopefully, McKeon expands that context to probing why the US military was so unprepared to protect such an obvious target on such an obvious date.


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This will never have a negative impact on Clinton, Obama, or any Democrat no matter how much they lied.

RedSoxNation on May 9, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Pentagon officials have denied a request from a House Republican chairman for access to documents on last year’s terrorist attack in Benghazi.

There’s a word for that. It’s called “stonewalling”. And it became very popular in the time of Richard M Nixon…

JohnGalt23 on May 9, 2013 at 10:07 AM

The “NO” Adminisrtation.

Jabberwock on May 9, 2013 at 10:07 AM

“Oversight? Well, the Constitution is wrong anyway. So whatever. And you can’t stop us.”

– Braaaaack Obama and Shrills Clinton

LetsBfrank on May 9, 2013 at 10:11 AM

The Pentagon decided that McKeon was trying to forcibly impose his views on their release of documents. They just got finished saying that they won’t accept anyone forcibly imposing his views on anyone in the military …

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 9, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Unfortunately, I do believe that nothing will come of this because the people who own the ink are owned by the Democrat party. To bad because you’d think the murder of those four brave guys should deserve a little explanation.

“what difference does it make now!!!!”

dirtseller on May 9, 2013 at 10:15 AM

How about a Congressional hold on all civilian employee funding above GS-11 at the Pentagon and command centers?

Checks & Balances people, Checks & Balances!

Another Drew on May 9, 2013 at 10:17 AM

Ever-deepening doo-doo.

petefrt on May 9, 2013 at 10:19 AM

No access…

Who controls the purse?

The House.

This is stonewalling.

It is not a decision of some Colonel Admin type.

It came from higher.

Who?

Hit it and hard…hammer it…or it will all simply go away.

coldwarrior on May 9, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Congress oversees executive-branch agencies. The House Armed Services Committee is not just entitled to that information, they are required to provide oversight of DoD operations. The DoD is not required to produce just “a comprehensive understanding” of their actions, but the actual information, especially in the aftermath of such a spectacular failure.

Unless and until Congress starts prosecuting and jailing culpable individuals in the executive branch for their dereliction of duty, the Obama administration and its allies in the Pentagon and elsewhere will continue to behave in a lawless manner.

All these people took an oath to the constitution, and it’s long past time for Congress to start punishing those, including Obama, who are blatantly violating that oath.

AZCoyote on May 9, 2013 at 10:23 AM

The walls are closing in. We need to make sure Biden is accounted for as well. He was the one running around saying “Osama is dead, GM is alive and al Qaeda is on the run!” all the way up to the election.

DanMan on May 9, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Dem’s circling the wagons around Hillary (on Drudge now):

Hillary Clinton Accepts Public Service Award In Beverly Hills

Sadly, I have no faith that this will go any further towards the truth than did the Fast & Furious hearings (remember them? Me neither). I’m afraid we have in fact passed the tipping point, where a large enough portion of the country is stupid enough to be easily controlled by an all-in media. The Progressive dream state. The rest, as they say, writes itself…

bofh on May 9, 2013 at 10:24 AM

This will never have a negative impact on Clinton, Obama, or any Democrat no matter how much they lied.

RedSoxNation on May 9, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Exactly! What does it take for something to be classified as a scandal in the Obama administration by the press?

melle1228 on May 9, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Hillary dogwhistled years ago with the ‘vast right wing conspiracy’ line, the much more vast left wing conspiracy was underway.

aceinstall on May 9, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Bing West has some interesting tid bits. Somebody is lying and needs to go to jail.
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/347608/benghazi-do-i-say-or-i-do

major dad on May 9, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Instead, the White House, State Department, and Pentagon have repeatedly claimed for months that the US had no assets in place to respond quickly to an attack…

Soooo weird.

We could send both a Learjet and a C-130 transport from Tripoli to Benghazi to pick up some of the State and CIA personnel DURING THE ATTACK (before the second attack and first on the annex), but we couldn’t send members of the Special Forces that were in Tripoli (and told to stand down…twice) to Benghazi because they were too far away?

On the one hand, Greg Hicks, Ambassador Stevens’ deputy, flew from Tripoli to Benghazi between the first and last waves of the attack. On the other hand, SOCAFRICA commander Lieutenant Colonel Gibson and his Special Forces team were on their way to board the same C-130, which carried Mr Hicks from Tripoli, for Benghazi prior to an attack on a second U.S. compound ‘when [Colonel Gibson] got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, ‘you can’t go now, you don’t have the authority to go now.’ And so they missed the flight … They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it.’

Was Benghazi a safer destination to which to travel for diplomats than it is for an American Special Forces team?

Sounds pretty BS-y to me.

The other obvious problem with the Pentagon’s position is that it is based on facts that were unknown when the decision was made. At the times of the decision and multiple stand down orders, NO ONE KNEW HOW LONG THE ATTACK WOULD LAST. No one knew if it would be over in minutes, hours, days, or months, for that matter. 20/20 hindsight is nice, but it is not determinative.

The American Way is to leave no one behind. Evidently, the Obama/Clinton Way is to leave more than 30 Americans behind to die. Even if it takes all night!

It was the heroism of Glen Dogherty and Ty Woods that prevented a terrorist attack that,sadly, killed 4 Americans from turning into a massacre of dozens. They disobeyed stand down orders not once, not twice, but three times. The Commander-in- Chief was A.W.O.L.

Resist We Much on May 9, 2013 at 10:26 AM

Self preservation. The bureaucrats at the Pentagon would rather stonewall this, than provide information that shows somebody in their ranks f’d up.

In the private sector, these asswipes would be looking for new jobs – not so much in the public sector.

This country is screwed.

Hill60 on May 9, 2013 at 10:27 AM

AZCoyote on May 9, 2013 at 10:23 AM

and if they can hold on till congress goes DEM. in 2014 it does just go away.

aceinstall on May 9, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Ask the question. What assets were available?

wolly4321 on May 9, 2013 at 10:29 AM

What are they hiding?

Blake on May 9, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Pull. That. String.

Do not stop until you see the bitter end. Be relentless.

Jeff Weimer on May 9, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Other Western nations had already withdrawn from Benghazi due to the security risks in the region, specifically from the radical Islamist terror networks able to operate freely in eastern Libya because of the removal of Qaddafi.

Let’s not forget that the Brits pulled out due to actual attacks, including an assassination attempt on their ambassador. European journalists were pulling out in droves from the Benghazi area because of the increasing threats to Westerners from Islamists, along with attacks.

Part of the US security detachment was car jacked, so, instead of increasing security, Clinton decreased it. Smart Power.

William Teach on May 9, 2013 at 10:32 AM

This comes very close to obstruction.

The rule of men, not law. Lawless thugs.

petefrt on May 9, 2013 at 10:32 AM

What are they hiding?

Blake on May 9, 2013 at 10:29 AM

The EXACT time and circumstances POTUS ordered the STAND DOWN… which should have been public knowledge BEFORE the election…

This is WATERGATE redux, plain and simple…

Khun Joe on May 9, 2013 at 10:38 AM

President Obama has committed to making his administration the most open and transparent in history…

Ramirez’s take:

http://news.investors.com/photopopup.aspx?id=616043

ITguy on May 9, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Imagine the media outrage if the Presidengt had a last name like Nixon, Ford, Reagan or Bush.

bw222 on May 9, 2013 at 10:47 AM

This is all due to the policy of a light footprint. We had no assets in place because this administration was trying to make a point to someone that our military was not interested in projecting force in the region. Who that someone is, is why we don’t know these answers.

BKeyser on May 9, 2013 at 10:48 AM

What difference, at this point, does it make?!?
We have the most transparent Administration EVA!

If this BS were occurring with an R in the WH there would be protests and riots and calls for impeachment. Instead all we have from the D’s are ‘death is part or life’ comments, and the only reason you want the truth is for political gain.

RedManBlueState on May 9, 2013 at 10:51 AM

the media will start to cover this once the impeachment hearings begin.

phatfawzi on May 9, 2013 at 10:53 AM

How about a Congressional hold on all civilian employee funding above GS-11 at the Pentagon and command centers?

Checks & Balances people, Checks & Balances!

Another Drew on May 9, 2013 at 10:17 AM

How about some prosecutors some federal marshals a few subpoenas a grand jury a bunch of indictments and a boatload of jail cells?

Oldnuke on May 9, 2013 at 10:54 AM

“Look! Jody Arias!!!”

/abc media

VibrioCocci on May 9, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving.

- David Burge ‏@iowahawkblog
http://twitter.com/iowahawkblog/status/332494589934047234

ITguy on May 9, 2013 at 11:05 AM

I am having a very hard time trusting this government! Are we living in Cuba? Where is the TRUTH!! Four Americans died while Obama Hussein and Clinton stood by and did nothing. That is the real story and the decay of America’s strength by these people. I will never forget. Shame on MSM.

karlinsync on May 9, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Responsibility for Benghazi rests entirely in the Oval Office with BHO! Hillary is culpable, as well…..I would be hammering on the military commanders responsible for rapid response in the region. The Pentagon and Panetta should be in the hotseat and a good place to start. Start with subpoenas if necessary. This is a disgrace and will not sit well in the history of this nation.

tomshup on May 9, 2013 at 11:13 AM

This is all due to the policy of a light footprint. We had no assets in place because this administration was trying to make a point to someone that our military was not interested in projecting force in the region. Who that someone is, is why we don’t know these answers.

BKeyser on May 9, 2013 at 10:48 AM

This reminds me of stupid liberals that I’ve known that refuse to lock their doors at night. Their theory is that if you trust others, they will repay your trust. So if a burglar tries your door and finds it open, he will go elsewhere?

slickwillie2001 on May 9, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Remember how lefties used to complain oh-so-loudly about the over-politicization of the DOJ?

Progressives have since made the DOJ an active political agent under Obama, just as they’ve made the EPA, the Labor department and virtually every other department.

But, lets all admit this: Never for a moment would any of us have thought the Obamatons would successfully extend that policization all the way into the Department of Defense. And yet, here we are.

The lesson to be learned is to fear how easily tyranny can take hold in government. The people no longer run things I guess, and career government leaders (even our military leaders) are loyal to the King.

MTF on May 9, 2013 at 11:21 AM

Most of the generals / admirals are liberal, unfortunately. which means they don’t even see the world as it is.

Can you imagine Patton, MacArthur, etc. listening to some State Dept. or WH weanie standing down when there’s a terrorist attack ? “Oh, sorry, Barry, that message never got to me. Would you like to speak to Chris Stevens and his colleagues ? They’re right here with me.”

God help us.

williampeck1958 on May 9, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Two words, special prosecutor.

jukin3 on May 9, 2013 at 11:25 AM

it’s worse than iran-contra: obama was arming alQ

reliapundit on May 9, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Unfortunately, I do believe that nothing will come of this because the people who own the ink are owned by the Democrat party….
dirtseller on May 9, 2013 at 10:15 AM

How much ink does one need to write Contempt of Congress?

Don L on May 9, 2013 at 11:32 AM

“…why the US military was so unprepared to protect such an obvious target on such an obvious date.”

Hey, I’ve got an idea about that…
Barack Hussein Obama is Campaigner in Chief.

kirkill on May 9, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Obama kills and eats White House dog Bo for lunch.

Media praises his frugality and blames it on the Republican sequestration cuts.

profitsbeard on May 9, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving.

– David Burge ‏@iowahawkblog
http://twitter.com/iowahawkblog/status/332494589934047234

ITguy on May 9, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Thanks! That is Freakin’ BRILLIANT!

kirkill on May 9, 2013 at 11:43 AM

It’s time we stopped looking for a strong leader we think would make a good president.

Our founders purposely designed our govt so that the most power would reside in the chambers of the people’s representatives.

We need the Cruzs, Rubios, Pauls, Gowdys, Issas, McKeons, and any others who are starting to turn into household names to start asserting their power within the House of Representatives and the Senate.

There was a time when the presidency was almost an honorary position, and we need to bring that back.

We need representatives jealous of the power they hold where they are, and willing to back each other regardless of party when any administration dares to buck their oversight–just as we would slap down any military figure that dared to buck civilian leadership.

questionmark on May 9, 2013 at 11:44 AM

When it comes to accountability,the Republican bar is 20 feet high but is lowered to 20 inches for the Democrats. This is what happens when socialist inculcated liberal journalists pour out of progressive oriented journalism schools (these schools themselves part of the entire teachers’ union inspired left-wing educational system.)Thus with a propaganda machine superior to Stalin’s the Democrats are virtually impervious to scandal and, very shortly, not only will they survive Benghazi but the Republicans will be blamed for “bias”, “partisanship” and, yes, even “raaaaacism” for even bringing up this “boring”, “old news” subject.

MaiDee on May 9, 2013 at 11:46 AM

I’m reminded of the philisophical question “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?

When the press is so blatently in favor of one political party over another that they refuse to report on anything that would be bad news for their favored party, nobody hears it. This is very dangerous to our country because the democrats know they can get away with anything.

steel guy on May 9, 2013 at 11:54 AM

When it comes to accountability,the Republican bar is 20 feet high but is lowered to 20 inches for the Democrats. This is what happens when socialist inculcated liberal journalists pour out of progressive oriented journalism schools (these schools themselves part of the entire teachers’ union inspired left-wing educational system.)Thus with a propaganda machine superior to Stalin’s the Democrats are virtually impervious to scandal and, very shortly, not only will they survive Benghazi but the Republicans will be blamed for “bias”, “partisanship” and, yes, even “raaaaacism” for even bringing up this “boring”, “old news” subject.

MaiDee on May 9, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Exactly. Not one thing will come of this. Even if Obama has a Col. Jessup moment in front of Congress and admits to stand down orders for assets that were available and then covering it up, and maybe even admits to weapons being moved to Syrian “Rebels”, not one damn thing will happen. Not one damn thing.

oldroy on May 9, 2013 at 11:56 AM

This comes very close to obstruction. Hopefully McKeon and HASC follows up with subpoenas and hearings of their own to find out why the Pentagon is refusing to cooperate with Congressional oversight. And hopefully, McKeon expands that context to probing why the US military was so unprepared to protect such an obvious target on such an obvious date.

How long until the WH’s first invocation of national security concerns or Executive Privilege as a reason to deny documents or testimony on Benghazi?

The problem is, if they do this they will be tacitly admitting there is more to the story than the “old news” the ABR “thoroughly” covered.

farsighted on May 9, 2013 at 12:02 PM

The most transparent administration in history.

Chris of Rights on May 9, 2013 at 12:13 PM

The most transparent administration in history.

Chris of Rights on May 9, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Transparently Machiavellian and Orwellian.

farsighted on May 9, 2013 at 12:14 PM

MTF on May 9, 2013 at 11:21 AM

that is my worst fear.

aceinstall on May 9, 2013 at 12:57 PM

Pentagon officials have denied a request from a House Republican chairman for access to documents on last year’s terrorist attack in Benghazi.

Wow. I’d love to see the justification for this.

I don’t know that Congress can necessarily demand to see everything the military has, but the oversight function is very real, and can’t just be politely refused.

This looks like pure stonewalling. And I can’t imagine any reason why DOD would want to stonewall, which means it’s almost certainly coming from the political leadership trying to cover up their own failures.

I don’t see any way that this refusal comes from any less a source than the president himself. DOD has no authority to refuse the request. And it’s extremely significant that they didn’t even offer an alternative, such as allowing interviews with key personnel to answer questions.

I think this is a very foolish move. It’s going to be hard to pretend there’s nothing to cover up about Benghazi when you’re telling DOD to withhold all documents about it from Congress.

Unless, of course, the crime really is worse than the coverup.

There Goes the Neighborhood on May 9, 2013 at 1:19 PM

bho/team will stall, stall, and stall as they have with F&F! That lying crooked bunch just ignores congress/courts and NO one will do a thing about it?
L

letget on May 9, 2013 at 1:23 PM

Self preservation. The bureaucrats at the Pentagon would rather stonewall this, than provide information that shows somebody in their ranks f’d up.

In the private sector, these asswipes would be looking for new jobs – not so much in the public sector.

This country is screwed.

Hill60 on May 9, 2013 at 10:27 AM

I don’t think the bureaucrats at the Pentagon would dare to defy a Congressional request unless they were at least offered cover by political leadership.

The way to test that, of course, is to start issuing subpoenas. Force the president to attempt to exert executive privilege rather than simply directing the subordinates to stonewall.

There Goes the Neighborhood on May 9, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Have these people in Congress forgotten who they’re dealing with. You have either the “Chicago Thugs’ looting the treasury, or the committed Marxists and Communists who will do Anything to cover their As***.

RADIOONE on May 9, 2013 at 1:30 PM

Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving.

– David Burge ‏@iowahawkblog
http://twitter.com/iowahawkblog/status/332494589934047234

ITguy on May 9, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Iowahawk is a National Treasure.

bigmacdaddy on May 9, 2013 at 1:51 PM

You know, growing up, I never really thought about what it must be like to live in a banana republic.

makattak on May 9, 2013 at 2:10 PM

I worked in the Pentagon for three years and briefed congressional staffers on multiple occasions. I can tell you from experience that the power of Congress to withhold funds, to withdraw funds, to hold up promotions, and to write language in bills can be very painful to the DoD. They do have leverage, even as the minority.

STL_Vet on May 9, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Unless and until Congress starts prosecuting and jailing culpable individuals in the executive branch for their dereliction of duty, the Obama administration and its allies in the Pentagon and elsewhere will continue to behave in a lawless manner.

Who actually executes the prosecution, once Congress files charges? DoJ, right?

Not gonna happen. Holder will actively obstruct it.

We’re screwed unless or until the DoJ is cleaned out. And that ain’t happening.

nukemhill on May 9, 2013 at 4:37 PM

Most ethical administration evah…

How do I know this? Nancy said so.

hoakie on May 9, 2013 at 9:11 PM

If Hagel can have access to those files, and he use to work for the Muslims before becoming Secretary of Defense, then any American citizen should have access too.

savage24 on May 9, 2013 at 10:33 PM