In January, the three-day hostage-taking of American and other Western oil workers in Algeria ended with 23 hostages dead. The U.S. survivors were able to tell their story quickly, and several soon appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes to answer questions about their ordeal.
But the survivors of the 9/11/13 terrorist attack on Benghazi that left U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three coworkers dead have been “sequestered” or hidden for a full six months. Congress, which has plenty of questions about how and why the Benghazi intelligence failure happened, has been stonewalled.
That’s why fed-up GOP members say that they are prepared to issue subpoenas for some of the survivors to appear before Congress if they don’t get more of their questions to the White House answered.
Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican who chairs a House oversight committee on national security, says Senate Republicans may also delay the delay the confirmation of Deborah Jones, the State Department official who has just been named to replace Ambassador Stevens. The Hill reports that GOP representatives Frank Wolf of Virginia and Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania have written to new secretary of state John Kerry asking him for the names and contact information for each of the 30 CIA officers and civilian contractors who survived Benghazi. Both men say they have gotten no answers about why requests from the U.S. ambassador for more security weren’t ignored and about how the Benghazi consulate was defended.
Kerry is said to be negotiating with the exasperated GOP members, and admits he has visited with at least one survivor while they were being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center near Washington. But other Democrats dismiss the need for Congress to interview survivors. Senator Jay Rockefeller, a senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, says that “As far as Republicans are concerned . . . this has always been a political issue and that is the way they will continue to pursue it.”
Perhaps the best way to judge if the GOP request is political grandstanding is for the Obama administration to grant it. Should nothing come of it, Democrats can then fire away at will. But until then, suspicions that the survivors may have valuable insights into what happened at Benghazi are well founded.