Top GOP Benghazi Investigator Debunks Conservative Myths: Nothing 'Could Have Been Done Differently'

A former three-star general who served as the Republicans’ chief counsel on the Benghazi Select Committee repeatedly acknowledged as he interviewed witnesses during the committee’s investigation that nothing “could have been done differently to affect the outcome in Benghazi.”

The quotes, which came from multiple interviews conducted by the committee, were revealed publicly for the first time in a letter to  Benghazi Select Committee chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., from ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith, D-Wash.

Although he is not identified by name in the letter, it has been publicly reported that Gowdy had hired Lt. Gen. Dana K. Chipman “to lead the panel's legal team.” Chipman left the committee earlier this year.

While interviewing former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in January, the then-chief counsel acknowledged, “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 in 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.” (Emphasis added)

Later in the interview he told Panetta, “And again, sir, I don’t mean to suggest that anything could have been done differently to affect the outcome in Benghazi, and I think you would agree with that.”

These statements undermine one of the GOP’s most heavily recycled — and completely unfounded — talking points about the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans. Republicans have repeatedly and baselessly claimed that President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered the military to "stand down" and not respond to the attacks. 

Gowdy praised Chipman when he brought him onto the committee’s legal team, remarking, “If you are serious about conducting a fair, thorough, fact-centric investigation devoid of gratuitous partisanship, it stands to reason you would select someone with those same characteristics to lead the investigation."

In the committee’s “Interim Progress Update,” released in May 2015, Gowdy boasted of the “highly-qualified staff” he had gathered to aid the investigation, specifically mentioning Chipman.

In an interview with Defense Department Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash, the form chief council made similar comments to those he had made to Panetta. “I would posit that from my perspective, having looked at all the materials over the last 18 months, we could not have affected the response to what occurred by 5:15 in the morning on the 12th of September in Benghazi, Libya,” he said. “So let me start with that positing or that stipulation.”

During the same interview, he also noted, “I don’t see any way to influence what occurred there. But what I am worried about is we’re caught by surprise on 9/11, we’ve got nothing postured to respond in a timely manner — and you can debate what’s timely, what’s untimely, but nothing could have affected what occurred in Benghazi.”

These statements are all in line with the conclusions of previous investigations, including those conducted by the Republican-led House Armed Services Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee. They also match statements by military leaders including Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey.

Yet Gowdy continues to claim that his committee is uncovering ground-breaking new information, saying in a statement last week that “the committee has identified new facts that significantly impact our understanding of what happened before, during, and after Benghazi.”

Gowdy, in an apparently desperate attempt to find damning information about the administration’s response to the attack, has sought to call as witnesses a man who anonymously called in to a right-wing radio show claiming to have previously undisclosed knowledge of the events and a purported whistleblower who recently spoke with Fox News.

Despite Gowdy’s desperate attempts to salvage the image of his committee, Chipman’s statements raise serious questions about what the Benghazi Select Committee has accomplished in the course of its two-year, $6.9 million investigation.

Bryan Fischer: Maybe Texas Will Secede Over Obama's Demonic Transgender Directive

Among the Religious Right activists reacting calmly today to a reported Obama administration directive on transgender rights in schools was American Family Radio’s Bryan Fischer, who said that the move showed that President Obama is “doing the devil’s work” and that it might prompt Texas to secede from the Union.

Fischer read from a passage in Revelation in which the devil goes down to the earth and “is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”

“So, again, I want to be clear, I’m not saying President Obama is the devil,” he said. “But is he doing the devil’s work? Yes. And he’s immitating the Enemy of our souls because he’s motivated by anger against America as founded, anger against the Judeo-Christian ideals that have founded and shaped this country, and he knows he’s running out of time.”

Later in the segment, a caller asked Fischer “what keeps the states from seceding from the Union and declaring their own government free from the United States with these executive orders.”

“The state of Texas is having their convention this weekend, their state convention, and there is a resolution that the Republican convention in the state of Texas is going to be voting on … about whether Texas ought to secede from the Union,” Fischer said, referring to a planned vote at this weekend’s state GOP convention . “And, trust me, after what President Obama has done today, there’s going to be a lot of energy behind that.”

Right Wing Round-Up - 5/13/16

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 5/13/16

  • Donald Trump is very proud to have Sheldon Adelson’s support after once saying that Adelson turns politicians into his puppets. 
  • Ted Cruz, who spent the first months of his campaign praising Trump, lashed out at Fox News for the network’s positive coverage of Trump. 
  • Trump’s butler clarifies things: “I did write that I think Obama should be hung. I never said kill, I said hung.” 
  • Right-wing activists Jared Woodfill and Cathie Adams lost their campaign to become chair and vice-chair, respectively, of the Texas GOP. 
  • The National Organization for Marriage is quite upset: “It is mind boggling to think about the power that radical LGBT extremists now hold among the Democratic party and leftist politicians like Obama and Hilary Clinton. If they are willing to allow these extremists to force their way into our children’s showers and bathrooms, what limits to their agenda exist?” 

Benghazi Select Committee Wants To Call More Conservative Media Witnesses

After two years of work and $6.9 million spent, the Benghazi Select Committee continues to rely on conservative media as it searches for a critical piece of evidence that will finally confirm right-wing fantasies about the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya.

This week a new anonymous whistleblower emerged who Fox News identified as “an Air Force squadron member who was stationed in Italy during the 2012 Benghazi attacks.” The man told the conservative network, "I definitely believe that our aircraft could have taken off and got there in a timely manner, maybe three hours at the most, in order to basically at least stop that second mortar attack and have those guys running for the hills."

The Washington Examiner reports that the committee is now seeking testimony from this anonymous whistle blower.

However, the accusations raised in this supposedly new revelation have been asked and answered repeatedly during multiple congressional investigations.

At the heart of the matter is whether Defense Department assets could have been repositioned the night of the attack and, if so, why weren’t they. Repeated investigations have answered this question.

Then-House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon told reporters after his committee completed its inquiry, “I think I've pretty well been satisfied that given where the troops were, how quickly the thing all happened and how quickly it dissipated, we probably couldn't have done more than we did.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee also reported that it had “reviewed the allegations that U.S. personnel, including in the IC or DoD, prevented the mounting of any military relief effort during the attacks, but the Committee has not found any of these allegations to be substantiated.”

Furthermore, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey told the House Armed Services Committee:

The President instructed us to use all available assets to respond to the attacks to ensure the safety of U.S. personnel in Libya and to protect U.S. personnel and interests throughout the region. … Because threat streams increased in a number of locations simultaneously, we postured our forces to respond regionally as well as specifically to the events in Libya. In response to events in Benghazi, we deployed a Marine Fleet Antiterrorism Security team, or FAS, team as you probably know it. Prepared a second FAS platoon to deploy and moved the special operations force that was training in Croatia to a staging base in Italy. We also deployed a special operations force from the continental United States to an intermediate staging base in southern Europe.

This follows a familiar pattern for the Benghazi Select Committee: Ignore previous investigations and waste time and taxpayer resources seeking out witnesses who anonymously appear in the right-wing media to raise questions about the attack that have already been asked and answered.

Just last month it was revealed that the Select Committee, led by Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., had asked the Pentagon to search for a caller to Sean Hannity’s radio show who claimed to have been piloting a drone above Benghazi on September 11, 2012.

After more than two years and $6.7 million spent, it is embarrassing that Gowdy is now trolling the right-wing media for witnesses to call before his committee, and it’s yet another sign it is time to wrap up this investigation.

Paranoia-Rama: Obama Did 9/11, Gays Cause Destruction And Public Schools Create Slaves

Far-right activists are still determined to find the truth about President Obama’s background, although it may not matter in the end since, after all, the gay rights movement is on the verge of ushering in the total destruction of America and possibly the world.

Glenn Beck: We Are The New Pilgrims!

Last night, Glenn Beck told his studio audience that the likely general election matchup between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton proves that the progressive movement has taken over the country, alleging that Trump and Clinton are both progressives who don’t intend to preserve constitutional values.

“The America that we know is now officially over,” he said. “The fundamental transformation has happened. The America that was the constitutional, Founding Fathers’ America doesn’t exist anymore. That doesn’t mean America’s not going to go on, it just doesn’t exist. Our new founders are Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Eugene Debs, Margaret Sanger, it is the progressives that have founded and it has taken them 100 years to get it to happen but they have slowly done it and we’re here now.”

He asked audience members if they would leave the U.S. and move to a new land if they could “practice your religion and live your Constitution in peace.” Most, including Beck, said they would go. “And we can take Ted Cruz as our new leader,” Beck added.

However, Beck lamented that this colonial experiment with Cruz will not occur because “there’s no place that we can go now.” “We’re out of land.”

He urged viewers to “think of ourselves as Pilgrims” who, despite the travails and hardships, will train their children and grandchildren in the proper values and traditions in hopes that they will one day reclaim America.

The best way to rear children in conservative principles, Beck said, is by withdrawing them from public schools and getting them “out of that indoctrination and that brainwashing as fast as you possibly could.” He suggested that parents instead homeschool their kids with lesson plans provided by Liberty University.

Of course, Liberty University also seems to be compromised by what Beck sees as the progressive movement, as its president, Jerry Falwell Jr., has very vocally endorsed Trump.

Perkins: Impeach Obama Over Trans Kids Using The Bathroom

As we have been noting throughout the day, Religious Right leaders have not been reacting well to reports that the Obama administration will direct schools to allow transgender students to use the restroom corresponding with their gender identity.

After claiming that the president is “sacrificing children to advance an evil agenda” and is intentionally causing “social chaos,” Perkins told Fox News’ Todd Starnes today that Congress should launch impeachment proceedings against the president in retaliation:

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told me Congress must intervene to stop what he called an imperial president.

“If the president chooses to go forward with this outrageous order – then congress should begin impeachment proceedings,” he said.

Perkins said the decree should be “resisted with ever legal and moral instrument we have available to us in this country.”

“Every parent, every school board in America should absolutely refuse to sacrifice the safety of their children for the threat of taking away nine federal pennies that make up every educational dollar,” he said.

Starnes also quotes the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ronnie Floyd, who told him that the planned directive is “an outrageous attack on our Creator Himself, upon human sexuality and morality and a further advancement of the flagrant attack on religious freedom in our culture.”

Starnes added some thoughts of his own on the matter, comparing the transgender nondiscrimination directive to the challenges faced by executed anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

The time has come for all Americans to stand up and defy this president's immoral agenda. If losing federal funding is the price we must pay to protect women and children – then so be it.

We will not betray what we know to be true for the government’s 30 pieces of silver.

The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer warned us about a time such as this. Not to speak is to speak, he once said. Not to act is to act.

Far too long American pulpits have remained silent on controversial cultural issues. Preachers don’t want to rock the boat. Parishioners don’t want to cause trouble. Far too long society has turned a blind eye as President Obama fundamentally transformed our nation.

But now the country stands at the edge of a great moral abyss. And we must ask ourselves -- do we defy the president and save the nation or do we keep the peace and sacrifice our children?

World Congress Of Families Timed To Commemorate Anti-Gay Riot In Georgia

A number of American Religious Right leaders will be headed to the former Soviet republic of Georgia next week for the annual World Congress of Families, which is organized by the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society. As Peter noted earlier this week, the event will coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, which the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church has designated the “Day of Family Strength and Respect for Parents.”

It’s not a coincidence that WCF will be in Georgia on that day, May 17, or that Georgian Orthodox leaders picked the anti-homophobia day to commemorate “family strength.” As Tbilisi-based journalist Giorgi Lomsadze noted in EurasiaNet.org yesterday, the renaming of the anti-homophobia day and the timing of WCF coincide with the anniversary a violent attack on LGBT-rights protesters three years ago:

The convention, timed to coincide with the day of a violent 2013 mob attack on an anti-homophobia rally in Tbilisi, will be hosted by a Levan Vasadze, a dagger-sporting homophobic knight dressed in Georgian national attire. Vasadze participated and is alleged to have helped organize the 2013 attack that relegated Georgia’s nascent LGBTQ-rights movement to the periphery of national discourse.

To counter the symbolism of the May 17 anniversary of the mob attack on LGBTQ supporters as a day for celebrating gender and sexual diversity, Georgia’s Orthodox Church pronounced that date as the Day of Family. The Illinois-based World Family Congress subsequently announced its tenth annual conference would also coincide with the anniversary.

The New Yorker’s Natalia Antelava described the violence that erupted after a group of clergymen led a “huge mob” against a small anti-homophobia demonstration in Tbilisi in 2013, ultimately injuring 17 people:

“Fuck your mothers,” a priest shouted.

Another priest came armed with a stool. Their followers carried rocks, sticks, and crucifixes. “Kill them! Don’t let them leave alive,” they screamed.

They smashed heads, windows of shops, and a minibus in which activists tried to escape. Twelve people, including three policemen, were seriously injured.

“Before the van arrived, about ten girls—gay rights activists—were being taunted by a growing, frothing mob. A stone was thrown and split a girl’s head open.… This mob was the creation of the Georgian Orthodox Church and the Georgian government has so far been gutless in standing up to the Church to protect the rights of its citizens. Shame on you, Georgia. Shame on you,” Paul Rimple, a Tbilisi-based journalist, posted on his Facebook page. He later wrote about it for the Moscow Times.

The BBC captured footage of anti-gay protesters attacking a van carrying the anti-homophobia protesters.

Lomsadze notes that WCF’s cheerleading of anti-LGBT sentiment in Georgia, “wittingly or not, might be helping a Russian foreign policy agenda in the region” since the Kremlin has used the issue of LGBT rights in an effort stir up anti-Western sentiment and solidify its influence in the region:

As it descends upon Georgia, the World Congress of Families, wittingly or not, might be helping a Russian foreign policy agenda in the region. Fanning the flames of homophobia has long been Moscow’s soft-power way to urge its former Soviet satellites, including Georgia, to distance themselves from the West. Before Georgia signed an Association Agreement with the EU in 2014, the Russian propaganda machine was put into gear, describing the landmark treaty as essentially Georgia’s gay marriage with Europe. Brussels had to issue public assurances that the treaty, meant for political and economic harmonization, does not contain any fine print requiring Georgia to allow same-sex marriages.

In reality, same-sex marriage is a non-issue in Georgia, where LGBTQ people cannot gather safely in public much less demand marriage rights. Nevertheless, some of the country’s own politicians run on an anti-gay marriage platform, pandering to widespread conservative attitudes and the position of the much-revered Georgian Church. A pending parliamentary vote seeks to amend the Georgian constitution to state that lawful marriage is limited to opposite sex partners.

“Would you want such marriage in your family, men in bridal veils, hairy, bearded men?” asked Tamaz Mechiauri, of the Georgian Dream Party, when asked to explain the reasoning for the bill.

Sally Kern's Farewell Address: Gay People Are Still Worse Than Terrorists

Sally Kern, the Oklahoma Republican lawmaker best known for repeatedly declaring that gay people pose a greater threat than terrorists, said farewell to the Oklahoma House of Representatives this week the only way she knew how … by comparing gay people to terrorists.

In a speech on the House floor on Wednesday, which was posted online by Troy Stevenson of Freedom Oklahoma, Kern once again insisted that “the homosexual agenda is worse than terrorism” and that children are being recruited into homosexuality:

“The homosexual agenda is destroying this nation, it’s just a fact,” she said back in 2008, adding: “I honestly think it’s the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam.”

In 2011, Kern said that while “we don’t have to deal with a terrorist attack every day,” Americans “are bombarded” by pro-gay messages on a daily basis, claiming that homosexuality is “more dangerous” than terrorist attacks “because it will tear down the moral fiber of this nation.”

“[E]verybody understands terrorism destroys people’s lives, it destroys property,” she said. “All I meant was, all I was saying was the homosexual agenda is destroying people’s lives.”

She told anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera that Satan “wants to destroy us” and is “using sexual perversion to destroy the future of America.”

As the Republican lawmaker elaborated in her book, “The Stoning of Sally Kern”:

Terrorists seem to do damage to our nation and to its people. Yet we, the American people, are bringing the wholesale destruction of our nation upon ourselves as we wholeheartedly embrace homosexuality, a lifestyle proven to be dangerous and deadly. We are currently very vigilant against the terrorist threat against us. We seem oblivious to this more pervasive inner decay.

Kern went on to call for homosexuality to be outlawed and to describe herself as a victim of anti-Christian persecution.

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