The former commander of the special operations task force in Northern Africa the day of the Benghazi attack will speak to Congress behind closed doors tomorrow — the day before he retires.
Lawmakers have long sought the testimony of Marine Corps Col. George Bristol, who left his post in March.
“He held a key position. You look at the chain of command of what happened in Benghazi. He was in charge of Special Forces for North Africa. The Pentagon hid him for a long time. They told us repeatedly over a long period of time that this person had retired. They didn’t have an e-mail or an address. They couldn’t get in contact with him,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said on Fox.
“And then, voila, it ends up he was still on active duty. Now, he’s finally on Wednesday going to appear before the Armed Services Committee. What did he know? When did he know it? What was his involvement? What did he know in the lead-up to Benghazi, what happened that night, and was anything nefarious going on with the cover-up?”
Chaffetz and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) led the charge to hear testimony from Bristol.
The classified briefing for members will be before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
Chaffetz defended his assertion that the Pentagon hid Bristol from Congress — with, among other things, an “administrative error” listing an earlier retirement date.
“I don’t know how many 35-year veterans, or 35-year people, colonels, full bird colonel there in the — somebody actively involved in the Marines is mistakenly identified as somebody who is retired, that they couldn’t identify him, didn’t know where he was. It ends up he was in Woodbridge, a few miles south of Washington, D.C., had not yet retired,” he said. “I find that a bit curious in the whole string of things that have happened in Benghazi. Just add it to the list of incompetence or deception from the Pentagon. It’s one or the other. But they did not let us know where he was. And then when we had a news story out about it they said, well, he actually still is involved.”
The congressman also hinted to a secret deposition on Benghazi today.
“I agreed not to share their name. But they’re going to be coming out. We’ve been doing these depositions in regular order. We’ve been trying to get as much information out there. We have to go do subpoenas. Chairman Issa has been very good at doing this. Then they come in and say, OK, we’re not going to do a deposition and we’ll go ahead and do a formal interview,” Chaffetz said.
“It is a real problem, the over-classification of so many documents and hearings. I think this will be a good precursor,” he added of the Bristol testimony. “But I think as you see the Congress getting into the fall, I know Chairman Issa, myself, others we’re going to have a series of open, transparent, in front of the American people hearings on Benghazi.”
“…Yes, this will be a classified meeting, as we’ve had other classified ones. I want them in the open.”