Today, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) issued a Dear Colleague letter to members of House and Senate leadership requesting immediate action from both chambers of Congress to fully investigate the facts surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Below is the text of that letter.
January 29, 2013
The Honorable Harry Reid
Senate Majority Leader
522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House
H-232, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
House Democratic Leader
H-204, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Reid, Mr. McConnell, Mr. Boehner, and Ms. Pelosi:
We write to respectfully urge immediate action from the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives to fully investigate the facts surrounding the terrorist attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
The FBI has led an ongoing criminal investigation into the events in Benghazi, relying on cooperation from local and national police in Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt. Incredibly, this investigation has proceeded very slowly with the FBI only reaching the scene of attack weeks afterwards due to the Libyan government's lack of approval. The FBI has also been conducting its investigation in Tripoli - more than 500 miles from the scene of attack. Worsening the situation, the Tunisian authorities recently released Ali Ani al-Harzi, the only suspect in the attack to have been taken into custody. To-date, the U.S. Government has yet to bring to justice any of the terrorists responsible for the attack in Benghazi.
On December 30, 2012, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC) released a report on the Benghazi terrorist attacks entitled, Flashing Red: A Special Report on the Terrorist Attack in Benghazi. Among its findings, it stated that "the State Department failed to take adequate steps to fill the resulting security gap, or to invest in upgrading the Libyan security forces" and that "the Department of State did not adequately respond to security requests from its personnel in Benghazi."
Last week, Secretary Hillary Clinton testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee on the finding of the Accountability Review Board's (ARB) report on the attacks and on the State Department's performance leading up to, during, and following the attack. The ARB found that "systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place."
In a CNN interview last October, Secretary Clinton stated, "I take responsibility [for the security of American diplomatic outposts]. I'm in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts." Yet, Secretary Clinton was not interviewed by the ARB, and she has chosen not to relieve those responsible for gross negligence in the State Department from their posts. Instead, these individuals have only been placed on administrative leave, and they continue receiving paychecks from the American taxpayers.
The Administration's explanation to the American people about what occurred in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 reveal stunning discrepancies between the falsehood that was propagated for weeks on end by Ambassador Susan Rice that the attack was "spontaneous," the outcome of a protest "spun out of control" and the truth validated in the ARB that "the Board concluded that there was no protest prior to the attacks." The American people do not take lightly to being misled about what really happened in Benghazi, and we believe that those decision-makers responsible for such action should be held accountable.
Further, we find Secretary Clinton's attempts to shift the blame for the State Department's mismanagement and poor leadership to a lack of funding from the U.S. Congress extremely troubling. Secretary Clinton's own Deputy Assistant Secretary Charlene Lamb testified to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on October 10, 2012 that budgetary considerations played no role in the State Department's refusal to send additional security personnel to Benghazi.
This is not a money problem - it is a leadership and management problem entrenched within the State Department. Last year, instead of ensuring that Americans in high-risk areas had adequate security, the State Department and USAID spent $322,000 to build dog kennels in Iraq, $750,000 to restore a sixteenth-century tomb complex in India, $700,000 to conserve ruins in Tanzania, and $20 million to spark "private sector competitiveness" in Ethiopia. While some of these programs may support U.S. interests in some capacity, shouldn't the State Department consider the lives of American diplomats more valuable when prioritizing funding?
On May 7, 2012, the State Department denied a request by a group of Special Forces assigned to protect the U.S. consulate in Libya to continue their use of a DC-3 airplane for security operations. Yet four days later, the State Department authorized the U.S. embassy in Vienna to purchase a $108,000 electric vehicle charging station for the embassy Chevrolet Volts as part of the "Energy Efficiency Sweep of Europe" initiative. We find that these priorities in expenditures in light of the deteriorating security environment in Benghazi a matter that requires full accountability by those responsible.
We believe that the U.S. Congress has a responsibility to the American people to conduct appropriate oversight over this issue. We are not satisfied by the testimony given by Secretary Clinton last week, nor do we believe the complete picture was given by the ARB.
In light of all of this, we feel there is a compelling reason for Congress to open its own investigation into what happened in Benghazi.
We appreciate your timely consideration of this matter.
Senator Rand Paul, M.D. Jeff Duncan
United States Senator Member of Congress