Congressman Lynn Westmoreland On The Benghazi Select Committee
HH: Joined now by Congressman Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia’s 8th Congressional District. Congressman, welcome, it’s great to have you on the program.
LM: Well, thanks, Hugh. How are you doing?
HH: I’m terrific. It is said that you will be named to the select committee on Benghazi. Is that true?
LM: Not that I know of.
HH: Would you welcome the appointment?
LM: Sure, absolutely. Yeah, we’ve been, you know, we put together a working group with the Speaker’s permission about eight weeks ago. And so we’ve been meeting, and you know, just sharing the frustration that we had, with the Speaker, of course, on trying to get some of this information out of some of the agencies. And then I think once this email came out from Rhodes, it just kind of, that was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back, and he decided to go with a select committee.
HH: Now you are a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as is Mike Pompeo, who was on yesterday. And I’m hoping you’re both on this committee, because I think it helps for a couple of you guys to be already read in on the clearances. How long do you think it will take the staff to get up to speed with the clearances necessary to proceed to work?
LM: Well, that’s a great question. And that’s a question a lot of us have been talking amongst ourselves, and the fact that it’s going to be important that to me, he puts people from the Intelligence, Armed Services, Foreign Affairs and Oversight/Governor Reform on there, because we are the guys and girls that have been hearing the testimony and actually kind of keeping up with all the reading of the information and the sources. So we think it’s important for him to do that, and especially on the Intel Committee, because of the interviews that we’ve had with the CIA operatives that were actually on the ground that night, and was in the action. So we just think that’s important.
HH: I’d be thrilled if both you and Pompeo end up on this thing. Now for chief counsel, yesterday, Andrew McCarthy suggested George Terwilliger, who was with the Bush Department of Justice, another name that came up today, Mike Mukasey. There are lots of great experienced prosecutors out there. Are you going to be looking for star quality in your chief counsel, Lynn Westmoreland?
LM: Oh, yes, I think so. And like you said, we’ve got some good, we’ve got some good candidates out there. But I think whoever the chief counsel is, is going to have to be star quality. And you know, we’ve got a star prosecutor in Trey Gowdy that’s going to be chairing this committee. And so I just think that would be just a great additional asset to have a star prosecuting attorney on there to work with Trey.
HH: Now Congressman Westmoreland, earlier today, Chairman Ryan of the Budget Committee was on the program, and he stated emphatically, twice, in fact, it’s a mistake for the Democrats to boycott. I assume you agree with that. But why do you think they would even consider doing that?
LM: Well, I think they don’t want to give this committee any legitimacy, but I agree with Paul. I think they would be making a big, big mistake not doing it. But you look at what Mrs. Pelosi could do when she names her five members, she could really create some havoc in making political appointments to that committee rather than people who are interested in getting to the truth. And so I hope that if she does appoint somebody, she’s going to appoint some serious members that are wanting to get to the truth, get the American people some answers, get these four families some answers about their loved ones being murdered, and not just trying to make it a political circus.
HH: You know, there are some Democrats like Tim Ryan, who’s an old acquaintance of mine, he comes on the show, and he’s from my hometown. And there’s some serious Democrats who take this very seriously that would not politicize this process. I join you in hoping that she puts them on there. But if they don’t, I hope you leave five empty chairs in these hearings, because the American people ought to know that they are indifferent to the murders of Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Ty Woods. And I hope the first day of hearings is devoted to the biography of those four Americans, because we ought to know what this is all about.
LM: Sure. Yeah, I mean, it’s just a very unfortunate situation that we put making friends and trying to have normal relations in a country that basically turned their back on us after they received our military help and assistance in overthrowing Qaddafi, that would murder our folks. And you know, that was basically caused just from trying to be friends and trying to make it look as normalization as possible. And being in the eastern part of that country where you know, the terrorists, that was their mainstay there.
HH: Now I do believe the public is confused about the various, there have been four committees and lots of different hearings, and people really don’t have a great timeline. I’ve posted a timeline that Peter Kirsanow put together over at NationalReview.com. Do you think the American public need sort of a start over context – Libya, Qaddafi, the revolution, the Arab Spring, all that stuff in order to put some coherence into their understanding?
LM: Well, I think that’s a great point, because I mean, this just didn’t happen overnight. What happened in Libya, what’s going on in Syria, these things were built on a failed foreign policy. And you’re right. Going back to some timelines, you’ve got to remember now when this attack happened in Benghazi, in Eastern Libya, there were two flags flying in Benghazi – the American flag and the al Qaeda flag. And al Qaeda, you know, you’ve got to remember that the Brits had pulled out, the Red Cross had pulled out. Everybody else had pulled out but us. And so you know, they need to hear some of this foreign policy background, and how our weakness in our foreign policy, to me, is what led up to this attack.
HH: Lynn Westmoreland, Congressman, thanks for spending time with us. I hope indeed you are on that committee and that you’ll come back early and often as those hearings get underway and the investigation proceeds.
End of interview.