Rule of Law

Pressure Grows for Benghazi Select Committee

Pressure is growing on House Speaker John Boehner to appoint a select committee on Benghazi.

So far, 178 Republican House members have called for a select committee with broad powers to investigate the killing of Americans in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. Three out of every four Republicans on the committees currently with jurisdiction, recognizing the failure of the current process to obtain answers, have asked for a select committee to be appointed by Speaker Boehner.

These numbers easily satisfy the “Hastert Rule,” as a super-majority of the GOP conference wants House leadership to chart a new, more aggressive course.

Currently, five committees “investigating” Benghazi are limited by each committee’s unique jurisdiction.  The Foreign Affairs Committee, for example, can’t talk to Department of Defense witnesses.  The Armed Services Committee can’t talk to State Department witnesses or review State Department documents.  And the Intelligence Committee won’t let anyone talk to CIA witnesses.

As Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) noted, “Americans from across the political spectrum recognize that not only are they not being told the truth [about Benghazi], but they feel Congress needs to change its approach to the investigation by creating a special committee.”

A select committee is part of regular House order, and would solve all the shortcomings of the status quo.

Benghazi has highlighted the shortcomings of the status quo, especially if House leadership takes a passive approach toward the Obama administration.  More on that later.

A select committee would bring together the five committees to provide cross jurisdictional subpoena and investigative authority to hold public hearings and issue a final report.

For now, the Obama administration is enjoying the internal strategic stalemate between rank-and-file House members and leadership.

As a result, Americans are kept far away from the truth of what really happened.

Exhibiting a growing frustration, Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) has even challenged the frozen status quo.  Nunes is on the Intelligence Committee, one of the committees with a sliver of oversight into Benghazi.  Nunes, for now, is one of the few Republicans still not calling for a select committee.

Yet Nunes has made it plain in a letter to House Speaker Boehner that the status quo isn’t working.  As a member of the Intelligence Committee, Nunes is privy to classified information about Benghazi.  While his letter does not reveal classified information, it is nevertheless terribly revealing about the mess.  One inference is that the people who attacked and killed Americans had sophisticated training.

Another, more troubling, inference is that American firepower might have saved lives that night, if there had been the will to use it.

Leading national security experts also realize the status quo isn’t getting us answers.  Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Allen West, Gen. Jerry Boykin and even Senator John McCain have all called for a select committee on Benghazi. Perhaps most importantly, the families of the fallen in Benghazi have called for a select committee.  Yet GOP House leadership continues to resist.

Why?  Why wouldn’t House GOP leadership do whatever is necessary to expose the broken trust of the Obama administration?

There are some troubling possibilities.  For example, was House leadership briefed on the situation before it exploded on September 11, 2012?  Or, were the perpetrators of the Benghazi attack American “allies” in the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi?  Might the unwillingness to deploy American might to save lives that night expose a more dangerous aversion to the projection of power that would embolden our adversaries?

Or perhaps the unwillingness to appoint a select committee is simply another manifestation of a lack of will to use the Constitutional powers of the House to fully engage a reckless and radical Obama administration.

None of these explanations are comforting — especially to the families clamoring for answers.