Rep. [crscore]Trey Gowdy[/crscore] said Sunday that he is baffled that the previous seven congressional committees that investigated the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi failed to obtain emails U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens sent in the months before the attacks occurred.
“How did they miss Ambassador Stevens’ emails? None of the seven previous committees bothered to access the emails of our ambassador,” Gowdy said during an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Gowdy, the chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said that Stevens’ emails show that he requested additional security as soon as he was appointed the ambassadorship in June 2012. But the emails Stevens received from State Department officials indicated that the agency had other concerns. One email asked Stevens his advice on “political messaging” to help sugarcoat the dangerous situation in Libya. Another asked Stevens to vet an intelligence report that then-Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s friend, Sidney Blumenthal, sent her.
Gowdy cited the emails in response to recent attacks from Democrats who claim its Benghazi investigation is aimed at hurting former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s White House bid. (RELATED: Top Dem Calls Benghazi Chair A Liar, Demands He Apologize To Hillary)
Democrats have argued that the Select Committee is pointless, since seven House and Senate committees have already investigated the State Department’s and White House’s posture before the attack and its response after.
The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Committee on Armed Services, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Committee on the Judiciary, and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have all investigated the attack, which left Stevens and three other Americans dead.
But the fact that Stevens’ emails have only recently been uncovered shows that the previous investigations were not thorough, Gowdy asserted.
“If we want a window into Libya and what was happening in the weeks and months before these four were killed, why would you not look at the ambassador’s emails? He was a prolific emailer,” Gowdy said.
Besides thousands of pages of Stevens emails, the committee has uncovered more than 50,000 pages of documents related to Benghazi and Libya that Congress has never seen. That includes emails that Clinton sent and received while she was in office.
Gowdy says that Stevens emailed his concerns about security at the U.S. facility as soon as he was appointed to his post in June 2012.
“He notes that there’s an uptick in violence, and he’s asking for more security,” Gowdy said of Stevens.
But rather than address that request, Gowdy says that Stevens was asked to vet an unofficial non-governmental intelligence report that Clinton received from Blumenthal.
“So [Stevens is] asking for security and [Clinton State Department aide] Jake Sullivan in Washington is asking our ambassador, the day after our facility is attacked by an IED, to read and respond to an email from Sidney Blumenthal,” Gowdy said.
Blumenthal frequently emailed intelligence reports to Clinton pushing strongly in favor of regime change in Libya. At the same time, Blumemthal was working on behalf of a company called Osprey Global Solutions, which was seeking to capitalize on the 2011 ouster of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi.
According to Gowdy, it does not appear that Stevens knew he was tasked with vetting information from a non-governmental Clinton friend. Stevens also did not appear to communicate directly with Clinton through email.
Gowdy also asserts that State Department official Victoria Nuland asked Stevens for “public messaging advice” to help spin the situation in Libya to help the Obama administration. Clinton and Obama pushed for the removal of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi. But his removal in 2011 created a power vacuum. That allowed terrorist groups to gain power.
“He needed help with security. He didn’t need help with PR,” Gowdy said Sunday of Stevens.
Gowdy also said that Stevens’ emails show that he was so disenchanted with the State Department over its security gaps, that “he even joked in an email, maybe we should ask another government to pay for our security upgrades because our government isn’t willing to do it.”
Gowdy’s comments on the emails come just days before Clinton is scheduled to appear for testimony in front of the Benghazi Committee. (RELATED: VIDEO — Benghazi Chair: ‘Shut Up Talking About Things You Know Nothing About’)
Asked what he hopes to learn from Clinton’s testimony, Gowdy said that he wants to know why as violence was going up in Libya, the U.S.’s security profile was going down.
“It wasn’t even staying the same. It was going down,” Gowdy said.
He is also curious why Clinton received Libyan intelligence reports from Blumenthal, a known political operative who was also working for the Clinton Foundation at the time.
“I want to know why certain things made it to your inbox, Madam Secretary, but the plaintive pleadings of our own Ambassador, that you put in place, for more security never bothered to make it to your inbox,” he added, referring to Blumenthal’s emails.