Op-Ed: Getting to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi (October 14, 2012)


October 14, 2012

Contact: Apryl Marie Fogel

By Congressman Paul Gosar, D.D.S., (R-AZ)

                               Getting to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi

On the eleventh anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on our nation, the brave men and women serving our country at the  U.S. consulate in Bengazi, Libya came under fire, resulting in the death of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. The attackers targeted our mission in Libya, a critical undertaking in a nation struggling to rebuild after civil war, because of what it stands for: the very freedoms and rights that define and strengthen our great country – Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion chief among them. Under ordinary circumstances, an attack of this level, with this much devastation, would elicit many routine questions, but the aftermath of this attack left more.

The assault on the diplomatic mission gives us great cause for concern, but the subsequent outright lies, partisan gamesmanship and political pandering by this administration, the media and even some of my colleagues in Congress add further cause for outrage.    

The immediate information made available to the American people and media by the current administration has now been proven to be lies. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N Susan Rice made the media rounds assuring the world that this was not a terrorist attack. She initially stated that the assault was the result of a non-violent protest gone wrong, and that an obscure video triggered the violence. Today, we know the attack was an act of terrorism and that the video was in no way connected to the violence.

What is more egregious than the outright lies is the information which has since been discovered that our intelligence community had uncovered that Americans were in imminent danger, and most shocking, that officials directly assigned to the security of the consulate, including Ambassador Stevens, had requested additional security and their pleas went unanswered or were rejected.   

Last week, my colleagues and I on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee had the opportunity hear from four key witnesses as to how and why things went so terribly wrong in the weeks leading up to this attack and the days following it. The testimony we heard was distressing. To hear Eric Nordstrom, regional security officer at the U.S. Department of State say in response to the state department denying much needed support that “it was abundantly clear, we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident,” is heartbreaking. The desire for Americans serving our nation overseas to be secure and protected is not partisan, it is not political, it is what should be expected and what should be guaranteed. 

For Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charlene Lamb, who is responsible for diplomatic security around the world to testify that "We had the correct number of assets in Benghazi," given what occurred and the response is shameful.

As a member of the historic freshman class of 2010 and relative newcomer to politics, I couldn’t help but look at this from the perspective I hope I never lose: not everything needs to be partisan. Truth, justice, and accountability are not dependant on the next election date. When dealing with a crisis, members of Congress should not have to hold hearings to unravel the circumstances which cost four Americans their lives regardless of who sits in the Oval Office.

The first priority of those throughout the various agencies responsible for securing our foreign resources should be the safety and well being of those Americans. Instead of spinning a crisis and the facts surrounding what was a clear failure to protect those serving our nation, those responsible should own their mistakes and work to ensure they cannot and will not be repeated

I expect more official inquiries to follow not because we’re in an election year or because the occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania is from a different party than that leading the U.S. House but because there are still lingering questions, because America has lost confidence in our nation’s leaders, and because we owe it to those who lost their lives, to their families and to those still serving to ensure past failures are not repeated. I will honor my oath of office, I will honor those who give of their time serving our nation. I will not relent until we are confident we know all we can to prevent the tragic events that took place and the political spin that followed.