"Explosive" Hearing set for Wednesday – Gowdy, Issa Speak

Editor’s Note – We are all anxiously awaiting the hearing set for Wednesday on Benghazi. SC-Rep., Trey Gowdy has warned us that this going to be very interesting, “explosive”, when interviewed by Fox News:

“There are more Benghazi hearings coming, I think they’re going to be explosive,” Gowdy said on Fox News. “I am bound by certain measures of confidentiality, but I would tell you that you are getting very warm,” Gowdy said when asked by a Fox News anchor during an interview whether witnesses could be coming forward.  When asked about the hearings Gowdy replied they, “are coming sooner rather than later.” (Read more here.)

Additionally, Chairman Issa spoke to a Republican gathering in his district in North County, San Diego about the hearing:

South Carolina Representative Trey Gowdy

Benghazi Rescue Bid Was Weakened, ‘Whistleblower’ to Testify, Issa Says

Congressman says hearing Wednesday will reveal that troops were ordered to stand down. Two ex-Navy SEALs died in the September 2012 siege.

A rescue mission to save the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans was gutted amid the Benghazi siege, a “whistleblower” will testify Wednesday, said the head of the House oversight panel.

Rep. Darrell Issa of North County told Republicans gathered at an awards dinner Friday that the former deputy chief of mission to Libya would be one of several to testify about the Benghazi attack of Sept. 11, 2012.

Media reports identify the diplomat as Gregory Hicks, who was in Tripoli at the time and reportedly took a call from Stevens during the attack. Issa didn’t use Hicks’ name, but did identify the other whistleblower as Mark Thompson, the State Department’s head of counterterrorism.

“He was there for every one of those phone calls—7½ hours in which they begged for help” during the deadly attack, Issa said of Hicks at the annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner at the Rancho Bernardo Inn.

Two of the victims of the Benghazi attack were former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods of Imperial Beach and Glen Doherty of Encinitas. They died trying to rescue members of the diplomatic mission as part of a security team contracted through the CIA.

Issa said the whistleblower—who effectively became the acting ambassador when Chris Stevens was killed—“was there for the time in which they launched an internal rescue mission and military personnel were told to get off the plane.”

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Issa said the whistleblower will testify that U.S. officials didn’t want troops on the plane because of the admonition “we do not want a military presence.”

“So less good people—less capable of fighting their way in—were on that plane,” Issa told an Aragon Ballroom audience of 640.

Although reports have circulated for days that “whistleblowers” would testify before Congress, none had been named. Nor what they would say.

Conservative media, including Fox News, reported in November that a CIA backup team was ordered to “stand down” and not come to the rescue of the Benghazi consulate, despite pleas for help.

In addition, Thompson will testify that “he never got a call” about the Benghazi attack, Issa said before introducing Luis Fortuño, the Republican governor of Puerto Rico, as featured speaker.

Thompson, the counterterrorism leader, heard of the attack “through friends of friends,” Issa said. “He knew it was terrorism—just as the charges de affaires will tesifty that … everyone in Libya knew it was terrorism in Moment 1.

With no doubt in their minds that the attackers were terrorists—instead of a mob enraged over an anti-Islamic video—“they clearly relayed that to the State Department,” Issa said.

But U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was deployed to the Sunday talk shows instead of Thompson, Issa said, “as part of the normalization that was going on” with Libya.

Issa said Wednesday will be a “very long day,” joking that he would forgo his coffee habit.

He said Friday night that he was flying back to Washington on Saturday to prepare for the hearing Wednesday.

The whistleblowers will say that Rice “clearly had better talking points,” but they were changed for “no security reason, no practical reason.”

Since the leader of Libya was calling the attack terrorism at the time of the Rice TV appearance, “we effectively called the president of the host nation a liar—but that’s what we did on those Sunday shows,” Issa said.

Issa speculated that Jay Carney, President Obama’s press secretary, will call the testimony old news. “Or perhaps former Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton [will say]: What difference does it make?”

But Issa told the Republican crowd: “We left our people and did not make a proper attempt to rescue them for those 7½ hours,” Issa said. “And as a result, every State Department individual, every person serving overseas, asks the question now: What happens if it’s me, and I’m on my own?”

“That’s what difference it makes,” Issa said.

The Benghazi issue was revived Tuesday when Obama was asked about allegations that his administration is preventing whistleblowers from testifying before Congress about the incident, The Associated Press reported.

Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters at the State Department:

“We have to demythologize this issue and certainly depoliticize it. The American people deserve answers. I’m determined that this will be an accountable and open State Department as it has been in the past, and we will continue to do that, and we will provide answers.”

On Tuesday, Issa “complained that he had not received responses to four letters he sent to the administration calling for whistleblowers’ lawyers to get the security clearances needed to represent their clients,” AP said.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell has denied that any employee had been threatened or told to remain silent.

“The State Department would never tolerate or sanction retaliation against whistleblowers on any issue, including this one,” Ventrell was quoted as saying. “That’s an obligation we take very seriously, full stop.”

5 named in Fast and Furious – Time for Holder to go

Editorial Note – With information and testimony in hand, there appears to be enough evidence to move forward on at least five individuals; from the field office in Phoenix, all the way up to top management in DC – imagine how many more heads will roll when it all comes out regarding the cover-up. Once again, SUA calls for the resignation of Eric Holder at DoJ. His contempt alone is grounds for dismissal.

What happens next is unknown, but like all such scandals, the truth will eventually emerge. When it does, likely long past the election in November, and regardless of who wins, those responsible must receive the maximum penalties. Why? Because not only were crimes committed, a message needs to be sent to all future office holders and their appointees -political ideology cannot interfere with the proper administration of any office. Strict adherence to the oath and our rule-of-law system must be upheld.

SUA has one question about the report written by the LA Times – Why is it, that when Congress acts in a way that implicates the current executive administration, they feel the need to make sure the reader knows it is a Republican led investigation, but when the same administration speaks to budget delays – Congress is considered to be a monolithic entity. We know the answer of course – Democrats cannot be held to account for what they do in Congress.

The narrative always blames the Republicans, and hides the Democrats. Excellent “editorial reporting” LA Times.

Two more reports are set to come out as well. Stay tuned!

Exclusive: Five ATF officials found responsible for Fast and Furious

By Richard A. Serrano – LA Times

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, co-authored a report finding that five senior ATF officials were responsible for the Fast and Furious operation. (Tim Sloan / AFP/Getty Images / December 7, 2011)
WASHINGTON — Republican congressional investigators have concluded that five senior ATF officials — from the special agent-in-charge of the Phoenix field office to the top man in the bureau’s Washington headquarters — are collectively responsible for the failed Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation that was “marred by missteps, poor judgments and inherently reckless strategy.”

The investigators, in a final report likely to be released later this week, also unearthed new evidence that agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Phoenix initially sought to hide from the Mexican government the crucial information that two Fast and Furious firearms were recovered after the brother of a Mexican state attorney general was killed there.

According to a copy of the report obtained Monday by The Times, the investigators said their findings are “the best information available as of now” about the flawed gun operation that last month led to Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. being found in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over subpoenaed documents.

Two more final reports, they said, will deal with “the devastating failure of supervision and leadership” at the Department of Justice and an “unprecedented obstruction of the [congressional] investigation by the highest levels of the Justice Department, including the attorney general himself.”

The first report did allege some Justice Department involvement, however, notably that Kenneth E. Melson, then acting ATF director, was made into a “scapegoat” for Fast and Furious after he told congressional Republicans his Justice Department supervisors  “were doing more damage control than anything” else once Fast and Furious became public.

“My view is that the whole matter of the department’s response in this case was a disaster,” Melson told the investigators.

Fast and Furious, which allowed some 2,500 illegal gun sales in Arizona with the hope that agents would track the weapons to Mexican drug cartels, began in fall 2009 and was halted after U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in December 2010. By then, most of the weapons had been lost, and two were recovered at the scene of his slaying.

The five ATF managers, since moved to other positions, have either defended Fast and Furious in congressional testimony or refused to discuss it. They could not be reached for comment Monday. At the Justice Department, senior officials, including Holder, have steadfastly maintained that Fast and Furious was confined to the Arizona border region and that Washington was never aware of the flawed tactics.

The joint staff report, authored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, was highly critical of the ATF supervisors.

They found that William Newell, the special agent-in-charge in Phoenix, exhibited “repeatedly risky” management and “consistently pushed the envelope of permissible investigative techniques.” The report said “he had been reprimanded … before for crossing the line, but under a new administration and a new attorney general he reverted back to the use of risky gunwalking tactics.”

His boss, Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations William McMahon, “rubber stamped critical documents that came across his desk without reading them,” the report alleged. “In McMahon’s view it was not his job to ask any questions about what was going on in the field.”

They added that McMahon gave “false testimony” to Congress about signing applications for wiretap intercepts in Fast and Furious.

His supervisor, Mark Chait, assistant director for field operations, “played a surprisingly passive role during the operation,” the report said. “He failed to provide oversight that his experience should have dictated and his position required.”

Above Chait was Deputy Director William Hoover, who the report said ordered an exit strategy to scuttle Fast and Furious but never followed through: “Hoover was derelict in his duty to ensure that public safety was not jeopardized.”

And they said Melson, a longtime career Justice official, “often stayed above the fray” instead of bringing Fast and Furious to an “end sooner.”

But, the investigators said, ATF agents said that they were hamstrung by federal prosecutors in Arizona from  obtaining criminal charges for illegal gun sales, and that Melson “even offered to travel to Phoenix to write the indictments himself. Still, he never ordered it be shut down.”

In the November 2010 slaying in Mexico of Mario Gonzalez, the brother of Patricia Gonzalez, then attorney general for the state of Chihuahua, two of 16 weapons were traced back to Fast and Furious after they were recovered from a shootout with Mexican police.

But 10 days later, ATF Agent Tonya English urged Agent Hope MacAllister and their supervisor, David J. Voth, to keep it under wraps. “My thought is not to release any information,” she told them in an email.

When Patricia Gonzalez later learned that two of the guns had been illegally obtained under Fast and Furious, she was outraged. “The basic ineptitude of these officials [who ordered the Fast and Furious operation] caused the death of my brother and surely thousands more victims,” she said.

The following month, Agent Terry was killed south of Tucson. Voth emailed back, “Ugh … things will most likely get ugly.”

Demonstrators linked to bomb threat? – Lessons will be learned

Editor’s Note – It is reprehensible any time demonstrators or political opponents resort to less than civil disobedience when protesting. The alleged associations that may tie the threat on Darrell Issa’s home district office to a member of the ‘Occupy’ Movement is another example of being over-zealous, and woefully ignorant. The saving grace here is that since the Gabrielle Giffords shooting last January, whoever did this faces zealous police inquiry, serious charges and if convicted, hard time. Being zealous, ignorant, and not thinking clearly is a great recipe to learn some new and valuable lessons, behind bars in a cell with ‘new friends.’ Friends a young zealot will certainly not appreciate.

Rep. Issa’s office reports bomb threat

Congressman Darrel Issa - (R) Cal-49

Politco

By Jonathan Allen

Rep. Darrell Issa’s district office reported a bomb threat to San Diego-area police Thursday after a caller told an aide that an explosive device had been left outside, Issa said in a statement.

“I understand the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office has determined that the item left behind does not pose an actual threat,” the California Republican said. “All staff members who were working in the office today are safe and I understand no other individuals have been harmed in this incident.”

Issa noted in his statement that the call came after critics and supporters rallied in opposing demonstrations outside his office in Vista, Calif.

“The phone call followed a protest at my district office of individuals associated with MoveOn.org and Occupy North County as well as individuals participating in a counter protest,” he said.

Law enforcement officials across the country have been aggressive in following up on threats to lawmakers in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in a January rampage in Tucson.

As chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which spends much of its time investigating the Obama administration, Issa has been a favorite rhetorical punching bag for Democrats this year. He was in Washington, D.C., when his office received the call, which came in a little bit after 1 p.m. on the West Coast.