By Rand Paul
Did Hillary Clinton tell the truth? She appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January and testified that she had no knowledge of a CIA gun-running operation in Benghazi.
Clinton's exact words were, "You'll have to direct that question to the agency that ran the annex," and then she claimed that she did not know whether a gun-running operation was taking place.
In March, The New York Times reported that the CIA has been involved with secret shipments of weapons to Syria for over a year: "The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi, and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports."
CNN now reports that at least 35 American agents were in Benghazi and the CIA is doing everything possible to prevent them from testifying to Congress.
Did Clinton lie because the CIA program was classified? Is it OK to lie to Congress about classified programs?
President Obama's national intelligence director, James Clapper, lied to the Senate in March of this year when he testified that no American records were being collected by the NSA. He tried to explain his prevarication by saying that he responded in the least untruthful way he knew how because the program was classified.
It is a felony to lie to Congress. Individuals who lie to Congress can receive five to 10 years in prison. I know of no exception for lying about classified programs.
Clapper's lie has seriously damaged the credibility of the intelligence community. The NSA initially claimed that terrorist plots were stymied by the suspicionless searches of phone records. However, on closer questioning, it admits that each of the foiled plots really began with other intelligence, not from information unique to searching American phone records.
Even more important than the details of the spying scandal is whether or not officials from the executive branch will be allowed to lie to Congress without repercussions.
Much has been made of the altered talking points in the aftermath of the Benghazi assassinations, but I think almost everyone has fallen for the president's misdirection campaign. The altered talking points were never about trying to get anyone to believe that the attack was not perpetrated by terrorists. By its very nature the attack was an act of terrorism, and no thinking human ever doubted otherwise.
The misdirection campaign was always about the CIA annex and the gun-running operation. The administration feared an Iran-Contra-like scandal so close to the election. Many Republicans fell for the bait because they support arming the Islamic rebels in Syria.
As Fox News reported, "On the night of Sept. 11, in what would become his last known public meeting, Stevens met with the Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin, and escorted him out of the consulate front gate one hour before the assault began at approximately 9:35 p.m. local time."
According to the Times of London, a Libyan ship "carrying the largest consignment of weapons for Syria has docked in Turkey." The shipment reportedly weighed 400 tons and included SA-7 surface-to-air anti-craft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades.
A few months later, the Wall Street Journal reported that the State Department presence in Benghazi "provided diplomatic cover" for the now-exposed CIA annex.
Does anyone really believe that Hillary Clinton, said to be the leading supporter of arming the Islamic rebels, did not know of the CIA operation?
There is only one way to find out. Chairman Issa should depose Hillary Clinton and bring her back before the House Oversight committee. He should ask: Did you have any knowledge of the CIA gun-running operation in Benghazi?
And he should also ask: Did you have any conversations with military personnel about not sending reinforcements to Benghazi from Tripoli or elsewhere?
The American people have not forgotten about the Benghazi attacks and the innocent lives that were taken that day. We deserve real, honest answers from our president and his administration, not a cowardly misdirection campaign.