House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa said Tuesday that he has yet to confirm reports that the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that was attacked last September was somehow tied to a gun-running operation conducted by the CIA.
According to a CNN report last week, there has been “speculation” the U.S. operatives were helping to move surface-to-air missiles from Benghazi to Turkey, and then into the hands of Syrian rebels.
On Hugh Hewitt’s radio show on Tuesday, Issa said that was not something of which he was aware and it has not been the focus of his committee’s investigation.
“It’s not one of the items that we know, although I’ve seen it on the Internet, too,” Issa said. “What we do know is that the ambassador asked for more security, and actually got less security, that there were calls for help that were unheeded by any support from outside, including military personnel that were effectively told to stand down when they tried to be part of a relief mission. And of course, Ambassador Rice outright read off of talking points that had to be knowingly false, claiming that there was a video causing this rather than the reality that it was in fact a preplanned terrorist attack on Sept. 11. What we also know, of course, is they’ve unsealed an indictment today that covers people who as far as we know never left Benghazi, have been sitting having espresso at the coffee shops, and like Osama bin Laden, he was indicted before Sept. 11, but not taken out when there was a chance to take him out. So we have serious doubts about how real this is versus a possible political decision on the eve of CNN making it clear that efforts to take these people out have been minimal or not at all.”
Hewitt pressed Issa on that question once again and Issa referred him to Michigan Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Then he explained his focus was on shortcomings, possibly tied to politics, from the Obama administration on that front.
“There’s a specific committee chairman, Mike Rogers, who deals with sources and methods and clandestine activities,” Issa said. “Our investigation really is about two questions. When you deny an ambassador security he needs, are you denying it because of gross incompetence, in which case, nobody’s been fired? You’ve got to ask why people aren’t being held accountable. Or was this a political aim to make it look like the war on terror was over, that it had been won once Osama bin Laden had been killed? And we need to figure out which one of those two occurred, because whether there were, as you’ve heard, arms trafficking or not, would have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you provide the security necessary for a long time loyal ambassador who was a specialist in the Middle East — I visited him in multiple Middle Eastern countries over his tenure — he was asking for more security. He was denied it. And ultimately, that becomes the primary scandal in Benghazi, that we know it was wrong to say no to security, it was wrong not to send an effective rescue mission quickly, and it certainly was wrong to flat lie about the cause of this attack for more than a week in a presidential year.”