Congressman James Lankford On The Benghazi Hearings This Wednesday
HH: All Benghazi, all the time today as we get ready for Wednesday’s big hearing. Joined now by Congressman James Lankford of Oklahoma, he is a member of the Oversight Committee. Congressman, great to have you back, thanks for joining me.
JL: Great to be back as well.
HH: What do you want to ask on Wednesday?
JL: There’s a whole string of questions really to be able to get the facts out. There are so many things that are unanswered. It seems amazing that we’re six months down the road, and the State Department has done their review of the State Department, and have determined everything’s finished and done and wrapped up. We still don’t know a lot of things. We don’t know even the most basic, the stories of heroism that happened that night as Americans defended other Americans. We don’t know any of those stories. We also don’t know how did they select the number of security that would be on the ground, how did they stabilize the facilities and harden the facilities, what did we learn from the 1998 bombings in North Africa, that we actually implemented and protected here, or did we learn from that, did we just repeat the same mistakes again, and quite frankly, the answer that’s the political answer, question out there as well, is who changed at the White House and the State Department, the intelligence report that did not say that this was some sort of demonstration? We know that for a fact now. It said that it was a terrorist attack linked to al Qaeda at the very beginning, and then it came out it was a demonstration prompted by Egypt. So there are a lot of questions there.
HH: Now Congressman, if I could be so bold as to suggest one for Mr. Hicks? I would like somebody to ask him if he has heard any U.S. official say anything in the media that he immediately thought to himself, subjectively, was a lie, because I want to know if the guy on the ground thinks the story that’s been told is a lie. If he says yes, I mean, that powers forward the investigation. If he says no, I don’t know what we’re spending our time on, but I have to think he says yes. What do you think?
JL: He says yes. I just can’t imagine, his testimony already, that I know of, was that he was completely shocked, and I believe the quote was his jaw hit the floor when he heard that the United States blamed a video and demonstrations on it, and it was an absolute slap in the face to everybody that was on the ground. Not a person on the ground in Libya thought this was a demonstration. Everyone knew this was a terrorist attack. No one there was discussing some video demonstration, because it didn’t happen. And then suddenly, it appears. And not only does it suddenly appear, you’ve got the president, the newly-elected president of Libya, as they’re trying to get their government off the ground, he stands up on that same Sunday morning and says this was a terrorist attack, and then our ambassador steps up right after him and says no, it wasn’t a terrorist attack, it was a demonstration that just went bad off a video. And it humiliated the brand new Libyan leader. So that had diplomatic consequences as well, and I want to find out what happened in Libya when the American government said to the new Libyan president, no, you’re lying, you’re not telling the truth, when at the end of the day, actually, the Libyan president told the truth, and our government was the one that was not telling the truth.
HH: That is interesting, and I hope you guys have your time divvied up a lot. But from the perspective of a member of the media, if Mr. Hicks says into the camera, repeatedly, I hope, the American people have been lied to about this, by senior American officials, and if he names the former Secretary of State or the presidential press secretary, or the deputy secretary of State, Mr. Kennedy, or even the President, then this has got legs. Then this has got people paying attention. If it becomes what did the Libyan president’s feelings think, that doesn’t do it. I mean, I’m hoping you guys use this to focus the attention. Now you’re in leadership, so I’ve got to ask you this question as well.
JL: All right.
HH: Is there going to be a select committee on this?
JL: Well, right now, we’re trying to allow the five committees to all do their work. That’s the key thing. The five committees have all got a task. Once you do a select committee, it involves a lot, and it becomes a huge distraction to the actual work. The five committees need to all gather their stuff, and then we’ll find out if that is warranted. But right now, the five committees aren’t even close to getting all their work done.
HH: Well, I’m afraid we’re losing attention, though, Congressman. I read the interim progress report three times now. I’ve got a heavily annotated copy in front of me. And when I read a paragraph that says Ambassador Stevens traveled to Benghazi on September 10 to fill staffing gaps, and to allow him to reconnect with local contacts. He also planned to attend the establishment of a new American corner at a local Benghazi school, I say to myself that’s like one inch deep into what he was doing there.
JL: Right. And that will be a lot more, a lot more that will come out this Wednesday. This will be the first time that we’ve had people actually in testimony in front of the American people that were there the night that it all occurred. When you talk about Greg Hicks, you’re talking about he was the deputy chief of mission. So when Ambassador Stevens was dead, he suddenly became the head guy there. So he is a very significant player to be able to talk about what was happening on the ground during that night.
HH: Absolutely. And then last question, does the Oversight Committee intend to call former Secretary of State Clinton to testify to you?
JL: We’re going to keep working through witnesses one at a time. We’re going to take the story as it leads. The key thing is the media has the responsibility to do their job, and I hope they do it. But the State Department has a job to actually do an investigation, but the United States Congress has a job as well, and we’re going to do our job.
HH: Is Secretary of State Clinton’s name on that list?
JL: Well, I’m not going to talk about any future hearings at this point. We’re going to talk about the one that’s coming up Wednesday, and we’re going to continue to press forward from there.
HH: I look forward to talking to you after that hearing, Congressman Lankford of Oklahoma. Thanks for joining me on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
End of interview.