View From the Capitol - Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler's Newsletter for the Week of October 22-26, 2012
It has been more than a month and a half since the September 11th terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya – a terrorist attack that killed four U.S. citizens, including Ambassador Chris Stevens – and the Obama Administration is still refusing to give the facts about this tragedy to the American people. Strikingly, most of the information the public is learning is through media reports. It is the responsibility of those in charge to tell us what they know about this sad event.
We learned this week through leaked emails that officials in Washington knew within hours of the assault on the U.S. Consulate that a terrorist group was claiming responsibility for the attack. It is astonishing that with this new information, the Administration’s first response was to blame a video clip for inciting the attack rather than acknowledging the role of radical terrorists intent on killing our people.
Now the revelation of new correspondence between the Administration’s national security team and on the ground officials adds to the lingering questions that remain after the September 11th attack. As a Member of Congress, I hold a responsibility to exercise oversight over the actions of government agencies. Obtaining answers to these questions is absolutely vital as we seek to understand how four lives could be lost through apparent inaction by the State Department. We still need frank answers from the Administration on the following:
- What happened that day?
- What did the Administration know about the nature of the attack while it was happening?
- Why did the State Department fail to supply more security forces despite repeated earlier requests for protection throughout the summer?
- Why did the President and his national security advisers fail to order in nearby military forces to come to the aid of the struggling Consulate staff members while they were under attack?
- Why did it take three weeks for the FBI to go into the compound to investigate, yet it only took days for reporters to get in and take photos of sensitive documents left exposed?
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee convened earlier this month to investigate why the State Department had failed to increase security at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi prior to the terrorist attack. Additionally, Chairman Darrell Issa and Congressman Jason Chaffetz sent a letter and 166 pages of supporting documents to President Obama on October 19th demanding answers about the Administration’s course in Libya prior to the attacks. So far, they have received no answers from the White House. This is unacceptable.
Four American lives have been lost. Sensitive and classified information has been stolen by looters sifting through the rubble of the unsecured Benghazi Consulate. U.S. property has been damaged throughout the region. Our diplomatic officers continue to endure protests and threats. We desperately need clear and firm leadership in the Middle East.
If this matter has been mishandled by the Administration, as it appears it has, the American people have a right to know. The truth about this and other acts of terrorism must not be suppressed. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee I remain committed to ferreting out answers. The American people deserve honest answers and a deep commitment to protecting our people and our property throughout the world.