Benghazi Committee Democrats say Gowdy ignoring statements by ex-GOP counsel

The House Benghazi committee’s Republican chairman is ignoring statements by his own former lawyer indicating that the U.S. military acted properly on the night of the deadly Sept. 11, 2012, attacks in Libya, the panel’s Democrats said. According to Reps. Elijah Cummings and Adam Smith, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., omitted the lawyer’s comments when he fired back at the Defense Department for criticizing the GOP-led investigation into the attacks that killed four Americans.

Gowdy’s actions, coupled with delays that have pushed the 2-year-old inquiry into the heat of the 2016 presidential race, “have damaged the credibility of the Select Committee beyond repair,” Cummings and Smith wrote Sunday in a letter to Gowdy.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter.

Cummings of Maryland is the senior Democrat on the Benghazi panel; Smith, of Washington state, is the senior Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. He also serves on the select Benghazi panel.

The criticism by the two Democrats is the latest volley in an escalating, election-year fight over the Benghazi panel’s actions. The panel, created in May 2014, has not conducted a public hearing since October, when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified.

Democrats call the panel a thinly veiled excuse for Republicans to criticize Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. Republicans say the Obama administration has dragged its feet, failing to produce needed documents or interview subjects, delaying a final report.

U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was among those died during the twin assaults nearly four years ago. Previous investigations blamed management failures at the State Department for a lack of security at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, an issue that has dogged Clinton and other Obama administration officials.

Cummings and Smith cite comments by retired Army Lt. Gen. Dana Chipman, who served as chief counsel for Republicans on the Benghazi panel from August 2014 until last January.

Chipman “repeatedly commended the military’s actions on the night of the attacks during closed interviews with Defense Department officials,” Cummings and Smith wrote.

Chipman, a former judge advocate general for the Army, attended a closed-door interview with former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Jan. 8.

Cummings and Smith quote Chipman as telling Panetta: “I think you ordered exactly the right forces to move out and to head toward a position where they could reinforce what was occurring in Benghazi or Tripoli or elsewhere in the region. And, sir, I don’t disagree with the actions you took, the recommendations you made and the decisions you directed.”

Chipman later told Panetta he was “worried” that U.S. officials were caught by surprise during the Benghazi raids, which occurred on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Still, Chipman told Panetta: “Nothing could have affected what occurred in Benghazi,” Cummings and Smith wrote.

The letter from the Democrats comes after Gowdy sent a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter complaining that a top Pentagon official had intentionally mischaracterized the House inquiry.

Gowdy said comments by Stephen C. Hedger, assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs, were “riddled with factual inaccuracies” and did “a disservice to the public” and employees at the Defense Department.

Hedger, in an April 28 letter to Gowdy, expressed frustration with the Benghazi panel, citing a “crescendo” of costly, duplicative and unnecessary requests, including a few based on claims made on Facebook or talk radio.

Fox News

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2 responses

  1. Omitting Lawyer’s Comment’s? Leaving Out Vital Information? Smell’s Of A Cover-up! For Sure!

  2. Every Dana Chipman article which I see makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Former top US Army lawyer Chipman appointed to investigate something? LOL! That is like asking Saddam Hussein to investigate human rights violations.

    When Mr. (as in former Lieutenant General) Chipman was the top Army lawyer, I personally lost over $40,000 when (then) Army Captain Matthew Fitzgerald threatened me to do something totally against US Army regulations – which Fitzgerald was totally aware. This was solely for Fitzgerald’s own self-serving and career-enhancing reasons as flaunted on his annual evaluation (OER). First I reported this to Chipman’s office – who then appointed one of Fitzgerald’s admittedly personal friends to do a faux “investigation.” Despite at least 1-inch thick of provided evidence, Fitzgerald walked away clean and with an unblemished record – and just to add insult to my financial injury, Chipman then promoted Fitzgerald to Major.

    I then reported Fitzgerald to his state bar and he refused to take part in the discovery process – which is a disbarment-driven offense in itself but he is protected by a federal agency. So I tried to take Fitzgerald to federal court. I never even literally got my foot in the door because of something called the Feres Doctrine. Feres, going back to 1950, needs to end for a variety of reasons. Go to Facebook under “Feres Doctrine” and see the timeline.

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