The second House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing took place today. In many ways, it was sadly more uneventful than the first hearing, which took place in September. However, there was ONE MAJOR EXCEPTION and it had to do with a name given by one of the witnesses, who was being questioned by Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC).
When Asst Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr – who testified at the first hearing – was asked by Gowdy who the Committee needed to get answers from about why Ambassador Christopher Stevens was in Benghazi, Starr attempted to point Gowdy to the Near East Asia or Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) Bureau. Gowdy told Starr he wanted a name. After suggesting that the individual he was about to identify might not ever speak to him again, Starr invoked the name Anne Patterson, the Assistant Secretary of NEA.
Starr then rightly pointed out that Patterson was the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt at the time of the Benghazi attacks.
The relevant portion of the exchange begins at the 2:45 mark.
As has long been maintained, in the “Ironclad” Report, there is an indisputable Egyptian connection to the Benghazi attacks that political leaders and media have gone out of their way to downplay and avoid.
The admission by Starr that the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt at the time of the Benghazi attacks – who has been despised by Egyptians who demanded the removal of Mohammed Mursi in 2013 – is more than just slightly significant. Evidence of Egyptian involvement in Benghazi, coupled with Patterson’s alleged collaboration with that Muslim Brotherhood government could have serious implications. Hopefully, this admission by Starr will prompt the committee to call Patterson to testify. If that happens, the questions had better be sharper than they were in either the first or second hearing.
If Gowdy really wanted the answer to that question as to why Stevens was in Benghazi, he would depose House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI). In November of last year, Rogers confessed to Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly that Stevens met with his committee in the days before his murder. In so doing, Rogers has already tacitly and publicly admitted to knowing more about why Stevens was in Benghazi than Patterson has. Here is the video:
As has been reported, if Gowdy is truly interested in a bi-partisan hearing, the deposition of a Republican in Rogers should help him achieve just that.
Noteworthy but less newsworthy was Gowdy’s reference to the ‘smoking gun’ email released by Judicial Watch earlier this year and analyzed. In fact, it was this email that served as the straw that broke the camel’s back and caused Speaker Boehner to name a Select Committee to investigate Benghazi. Gowdy invoked the document prior to the more explosive exchange that culminated with Starr naming Patterson, but referred to it as a “memo” and avoided our discovery that revealed the background of one of the recipients of that email as being tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Instead, Gowdy referenced the more commonly referred to second bullet point item, which references Ben Rhodes’ instruction for then UN Ambassador Susan Rice to point to the anti-Muhammad video as the impetus for the attacks. As has been reported, that video likely had more to do with the attacks in Benghazi than conservatives are willing to admit but that’s an argument for another day.
After the first hearing, Chairman Gowdy made a surprise appearance on Fox News Channel’s Special Report with Bret Baier and the Fox News panel. During the panel, Gowdy pledged that future hearings “will be sharper”. Today’s hearing was not. In fact, it was less so.
Again, the second hearing was largely uneventful. Based on Gowdy’s pledge that it not become a “circus”, much of that likely has to do with his desire to tightly control the proceedings and keep tight parameters around the committee members’ line of questioning. Another factor could have to do with the fact that technically, the committee is set to expire at the end of the current session of Congress. Speaker John Boehner must hold a voe in the House to ensure the Committee’s work continues in 2015 and beyond.
A major blunder by one of the members could have conceivably caused problems on that front, especially in light of some reports that Boehner knew much more about what was going on in Benghazi than he is letting on. Giving him a reason to discontinue the Committee would not be advisable.
Nonetheless, it was interesting to consider that the current Inspector General of the State Department was the other witness that testified. His name is Steve A. Linick.
Prior to Linick being confirmed, a man by the name of Harold Geisel served as the Acting Inspector General at State. One of the Benghazi Select Committee members – Rep. Lynn Westmoreland – is all too familiar with this reality. On June 13, 2012, Westmoreland joined Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and four other three other Congressman in signing a letter to Geisel that inquired about Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the State Department. Close adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin was named.
Geisel was given exactly 90 days to respond to that letter and never did. As was reported, Westmoreland is the ONLY one of those five Congressmen who sits on the Benghazi Select Committee and who knows the dangers of Muslim Brothehrood infiltration of the State Department.
The Benghazi attacks took place exactly 90 days later. Westmoreland knows this. Yet, he spent the majority of his time in the second Benghazi hearing questioning Starr. Toward the end of his time, Westmoreland questioned Linick but those questions were largely innocuous:
Here is Part 1 of Westmoreland:
Here is Part 2 of Westmoreland:
Of the Republicans on the Committee, Gowdy, Westmoreland and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) are the only ones who demonstrated the bare minimum requirement of knowledge when it comes to understanding the Muslim Brotherhood threat to western civilization. As has been reported, other than Gowdy, Westmoreland and Jordan every other Republican on the Committee voted to arm the Syrian rebels as recently as this past September; this should disqualify all but those three from serving on the Committee.
In a semi-interesting exchange with Sarr, Rep. Jordan asks why the U.S. was in Benghazi and why the U.S. installation was identified by a term that was something completely different from all of the 285 diplomatic facilities across the world. Jordan’s reason for pounding on this had to do with concerns that re-naming the compound could help to prevent it from being required to meet certain standards. One thing to watch out for is how Jordan tweaks Starr’s ego by suggesting that despite having the opportunity to demand a seat at the adult table, Starr chose to remain silent and remain seated at the children’s table.
Starr did not like that.
Here is Part 1:
Here is Part 2:
Here is video of Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL). Again, mildly interesting but not as explosive as is warranted. He also makes reference to the tweaking of Starr’s ego by Jordan: