Rep. Peter Roskam, a member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, joined Dan & Amy to discuss the committee's 800-page report, the important findings and answer questions about culpability within the Obama Administration as to the deaths of Amb. Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty on the night of 9/11/12.
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Dan Proft: Dan and Amy, and we’re talking about the Benghazi report, the 800 page report, produced and released by the House Select Committee of Benghazi, Trey Gowdy addressed the assembled press yesterday to issue a bit of a challenge; number one, to read the report. Amy Jacobson: Read the report? Who’s got time for that? Dan Proft: Or the reading skills? But he wanted those to do, in addition to reading the report, is as you’re reading the report, take particular note of private knowledge in comparison to public statements. Trey Gowdy: “I want you to contrast the information in the evidence that was available on the the evening of September the 11th. Look at the full body of evidence that was available and then look at what was said and then you draw your own conclusion of whether or not you made the best use of the evidence and the information that was available. It is one thing to say the evidence didn't exist. It existed. We found them we found the DS agent, we found the GRS agents. There are conversations ongoing throughout the night. She actually talked to Greg Hicks. So that argument actually works both ways. If there's a failure of information, she was fairly definitive in certain statements she made other people privately. There was no ambiguity. It wasn’t like, you know, I can't answer that question Mr. Egyptian political leader, we don't know. She's pretty definitive. It was just in the public statements to us that there was less definitiveness. So you are going to have to decide that for yourself.” Dan Proft: And Hillary acting as a spokesman for the Washington Press Corps said this, in response. Hillary Clinton: “I’ll leave it to others to characterize this report, but I think it’s pretty clear that it’s time to move on”. Dan Proft: Well, we’re not moving on quite yet. Amy Jacobson: So insincere. Dan Proft: The press corp has. Amy Jacobson: Well yeah, they said there’s no smoking gun. They read it all, I’m sure they did. Dan Proft: This was received with a collective yawn. Finally it’s over. Finally we can formally absolve and conclusively absolve Hillary and just get on about our business of flaking for her. Well, for more on the report and the work of that committee, we’re joined by a member of the House Select Committee of Benghazi, and thus, by extension, a member of the vast right-wing conspiracy. He is Congressman Peter Roskam, who joins us now. Peter, thanks for joining us, appreciate it. Peter Roskam: Thanks, Dan and Amy. Good to be with you guys. Dan Proft: So Trey Gowdy didn’t want to use the term liar in describing Hillary Clinton, but the record suggests that not only is she, she is inveterate and unrepentant. Peter Roskam: She knew the truth and she told something else. I don’t know how else to characterize that, and it was nearly contemporaneous. So she’s conflating these issues, creating this false narrative, along with many others in the administration. So this is the larger theme, but many others in the administration that started that night, she gave the statement shortly after 10 o’clock on the night of the attack, essentially, and then within a very short period of time she’s communicating privately through an email with her daughter that says nothing about a video and is declarative that it was a terrorist attack, and similarly, when she’s interacting with the Egyptian leadership, when she’s interacting with the Libyan leadership, all the same thing. And I think, this is part of this. The part of evaluating and investigating this for the past couple of years, my take-away is this jarring contrast between the heroism, the initiative, the self-sacrifice that was happening on the ground in Benghazi and was happening in Tripoli, as CIA agents were trying to get to Benghazi, and just the cavernous difference between basically dithering and politics and nonsense that was happening in Washington DC at the same time. It is shocking to actually learn these facts and to see them posted next to one another. Amy Jacobson: So, four lives lost, six hundred requests for security, and no one came to the rescue because they were too busy figuring out the politics of it all? Figuring out what the marines were going to wear? So high school… Peter Roskam: So this is what happened. The attack happens in Washington DC time, about 3:42 pm. About 5 o’clock, the President is notified and the President says, “Do everything to help these people”. He gives the order to Leon Panetta. Panetta then gathers his team as the Secretary of Defense, he evaluates the assets; at 7 o’clock, Panetta gives an order, “Deploy”. Now, here’s where it really starts to break down. It just doesn’t happen. And here’s the scandal. Part of it, is there was never any asset that was ever going to Benghazi; never. There were two unarmed drones – it’s arguable that one of them might have been armed, maybe – but two unarmed drones showed up, and the guys from Tripoli showed up, but in terms of the initiative from Washington, you know that feeling wheels up and help is on the way, never happened and nothing is going to Benghazi. Dan Proft: How can the President give a directive and the Secretary of Defense rewrite that directive and nothing moves? Peter Roskam: Nothing moves because the Department of Defense didn’t move with dispatch. And so that’s a big problem and I think, moving forward, we have to sort this out, because look, we ask, America asks its citizens to go to dangerous places and do difficult things, and the deal that we do with them, as diplomats, as members of the clandestine services, as members of the military, is you go in there, there’s an assumption of the risk, but we’re going to do everything as a country to mitigate that risk and if the wheels come off the cart, we’re going to do everything we can to rescue you. And that didn’t happen. So what does that tell diplomats? What does that tell forward leaning clandestine operators or members of the military? Who’s got their back? And just think about this; can you imagine if this was an Israeli operation? Can you imagine Netanyahu sitting back and doing essentially nothing, or not following up, or the Israeli military, them just wringing their hands and literally thinking about politics? Amy Jacobson: Who has blood on their hands though? The marines are ready to go and then they say, “Change your clothes into civilian clothes; no, now change back, now change again”. Who was initiating those directives? Peter Roskam: Changed back four times, Amy, and it took three hours for these guys to change and change and change and change. Ultimately, the American public had to ask and answer that question, “To whom is the responsibility allied?” But who bears the burden? The families bear the burden, and the four guys who were killed, they bear the burden. This is a shame, and I mean that literally. This is a shame. This is a shameful thing to learn, that our country failed these people so miserable. Dan Proft: But here’s the thing, and what I’m trying to get to is specific culpability, you know, the whole government is always, “Mistakes were made”, the mistakes made themselves. No, people made those mistakes. Up and down the chain of command, from Hillary Clinton to Leon Panetta, and then down, perhaps, to military officers who didn’t execute the order that they were given by Panetta. But are we going to see any people actually whistled in to say, “You were told to do this and you didn’t do it, and that’s a problem, and your career is over as a senior military official is”. Nobody is held responsible. Everybody’s responsible, so no one’s responsible. Peter Roskam: Look, I take your point, and I agree with you, and that is one of the really jarring and maddening things, and just that it makes matters a little bit worse, just to pile on, this was a mistake in terms of the policy going in - never got a straight answer, by the way, if there was gun running involved; the administration would never answer that question – it was a mistake as it was happening. So Chris Stevens is sent to Libya; the first time he goes in he is supposed to be accompanied by the military, then at the last minute, the boots on the ground policy says, “Oh, no, no, no. No military accompanying for you”, and he goes in without even diplomatic immunity. He goes in without even the cover of the Geneva Convention. Think about that. Time after time after time they have requested more security support. One diplomatic security agent we learn went out there, came back and said, “This is a suicide mission. Everybody here is going to die”. And that is well in advance of the September 11 attacks. So it’s a mistake going in, it’s a mistake as it’s happening, and it’s a mistake in terms of the cover up and the mischaracterization and the false narrative coming out of it. So look, we get to choose our leaders, and people have to make a decision about who they want to lead them. They sum the totality of this information and so that’s now obviously part of the national discussion. Amy Jacobson: And in the end, it was Kaddafi forces the one that went in and saved everyone? Peter Roskam: Ironic, isn’t it unbelievable? So the very people that the administration was aligned against were the people that got our Americans evacuated out of Benghazi. None of the people in the administration have been billing these relationships with over the past 18 months; in fact, the information indicates that one of the top security guys with whom we had relied was actually next to one of the commanders in the night of the attack against the United States. Dan Proft: How do you respond to the criticism that the Benghazi committee made a mistake by parceling out information, leaking out information, and then this report doesn’t have anything new, it just is a compendium of everything we already know? Peter Roskam: So it didn’t happen that way. It wasn’t a committee that leaked information out, it was democrats on the committee that leaked information out. Democrats put out a report earlier this week that mentions Donald Trump 23 times, I think - just kind of completely absurd – who had nothing to do with this event at all. So it is a work that is a complete work in so far as the information one’s available. It’s 800 pages, I know it sounds long, but I commend it to you, and it is meant to, number one, explain what actually happened, and number two, give recommendations moving forward, so that it doesn’t happen again. But when it comes down to it, we choose people, and people are the ones who initiate, people are the ones who execute things, and people are the ones where the responsibility should lie. Dan Proft: And four people whose names we shouldn’t forget – you see the media reports with names of terrorists all the time – US Ambassador Christ Stevens, Foreign Services Officer Sean Smith, and CIA Contractors Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. Peter Roskam, thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it. Peter Roskam: Thank you guys!