Georgia Congressman Lynn Westmoreland is a member of the Select Committee on Benghazi and joined me in the second segment of today’s show:
HH: Joined now by Congressman Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District. Of course, he’s a member of the new select committee on Benghazi. Congressman Westmoreland, welcome back, it’s great to have you.
LW: Thank you, Hugh, good to be back with you.
HH: Now the Democrats announced today they’re not going to participate in the committee. Does that change your reaction towards its necessity at all?
LW: No. I think it’s a shame that they’re not going to do it, but I mean, the things that they were asking about, asking the Speaker to do, would have done nothing but just stall the investigation just like the administration has already stalled it. So I think the Speaker was more than fair with the breakdown of the committee. And I hate it that they, you know, decided not to do it.
HH: Now Congressman, you’ve got your seven colleagues, or your six colleagues and you now named, so it’ll be a seven person committee until the Democrats stop their embargo, their boycott. How soon do you expect to hire a chief counsel? And have you talked to the chairman about that sort of thing, yet?
LW: Well, you would have to talk to the Chairman and the Speaker about that. We met last Friday, and we do not, I don’t have any idea what that time frame is. I just know that the committee is ready to go to work, but it’s also very important to get a well-respected chief counsel.
HH: When you met on Friday, what was the Chairman’s guidance to you?
LW: Well, the Chairman’s guidance basically is look, this is going to be a fair, open, honest, transparent process, you know, that we are going after the facts, and we’re going to let the facts lead us to the truth. And he said you know, facts are not Democrat or Republican. They’re facts. And so I think that was an appropriate thing to say at the opening meeting, just to let everybody know, is look, you know, this isn’t a partisan witch hunt or whatever Ms. Pelosi called it, a sham or whatever, that this was going to be an honest, sincere effort on this committee’s part, and hopefully Republican and Democrat, just to get the facts and let the facts lead us to the truth.
HH: On the committee with you is one of your colleagues from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Mike Pompeo, also a veteran, West Point grad, Harvard lawyer, and then Susan Brooks…you’ve got a bunch of lawyers there, and you’ve got one Buckeye in Jim Jordan so the committee is strong, and that it’s got good common sense grounding in the center part of the country. So…but generally speaking, it’s a pretty well-qualified, low key group of people.
LW: Yes, sir, it is. And I think that’s what the Speaker was looking for, is some folks that he thought would not just be out seeking the limelight, but that people were good question askers, and interrogators. And so I think that’s what he was looking for.
HH: Now you mentioned when we talked last week, there’s quite a lot that you’ve seen as a member of the Intelligence committee, that you’re only allowed to see because you’ve got clearances, you know, sensitive, compartmentalized, information clearances that a lot of people don’t have. Do you think the committee’s going to be able to get some of that stuff out, Lynn Westmoreland?
LW: Well, we, certainly all of the committee members are going to have access to it, and then I’m sure on as much of the documents as we can, as we’ve already done on the Intel Committee, is ask the intelligence community to declassify as much of it as they can.
HH: Do you think there is more coming that you haven’t already seen?
LW: Hugh, that’s hard to say, because there has been so many documents that have been asked for that we have not received, yet.
HH: Interesting. Have you got a strong enough subpoena authority? Or do your subpoenas have to go to the full House, Congressman Westmoreland?
LW: No, sir. It’ll come from the committee.
HH: Oh, that is terrific. Now I’ve raised, I’m going to talk to Trey Gowdy as soon as I can. Do you expect the members of the committee, I know Mike Pompeo’s going to join me later in the week. Do you expect them to be accessible to the media?
LW: I do. I do. I think you will find them accessible. We’ve done a few things. I just don’t think you’re going to find the committee members trying to be booked anywhere. I think they will be available, and just make this process as transparent as we possibly can without trying to grandstand or headline anything.
HH: Now I’d like to finish our first conversation by focusing on the people who did the attack, the terrorists. Right now, we’re in the middle of following this huge story in Nigeria where this crazy group of Islamists have massacred hundreds and seized hundreds of kids.
HH: And everyone’s worried about them. But Africa is full of these Islamist groups. Is part of the committee’s effort going to be to see if there are any dots that connect these various outposts of Islamist extremism, whether it’s Somalia or Nigeria or Mali or Libya?
LW: Well, Hugh, I think that in some ways, they’re all connected with their radicalism. And I think that you can look at what’s going on in Syria, and what has gone on in Libya, and especially, you know, the night of the attack, they were, you know, I mean, they were all part of a radical group. And I think that the majority of them was al Qaeda related.
HH: And do you think there is a good chance we are going to bring these people to justice eventually? Are you confident in the Bureau and in our foreign intelligence agencies getting the people who killed these Americans?
LW: I think the FBI is making an effort to do this. The problem is, Hugh, is that basically if somebody asks the FBI the question about what’s going, they’ll only respond that it’s an ongoing investigation. And I hope that this committee can look further into that and find out exactly where the process is at.
HH: Last question, Congressman, do you expect to talk to everyone who was on the ground there that night, including the other members of the security forces from whom we have not yet heard?
LW: Yes, sir. I would hope that we would do that, and I think that’s what we have to do to get the full confidence of the American people and those four families that had loved ones murdered. If we don’t try to talk to all of them, and understand that some of them are still with agencies in different parts of the world. But I think for us to do a complete, thorough report, we have to make our best effort to do that.
HH: Congressman Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia’s 3rd, I was so happy to see you on this select committee. I know you’re serious about it, I know you’re all cleared up, and I know you’ll do your best along with your colleagues to get to the truth. That’s all anyone can ask. Thank you for joining us, Congressman Westmoreland.
End of interview.