The former chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has accused former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of lying about a YouTube video sparking the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Pete Hoekstra says that Hillary’s lies run deep and that the Republicans should have done a much better job at questioning Clinton on critical issues during Thursday’s hearing before the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
In one of the most critical parts of the hearing, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, presented an email Clinton sent to her family and transcripts of phone conversations she had with Libyan and Egyptian officials on the night of the attack. Each time, Clinton stated that an al-Qaida-type group was responsible for the attack and deaths of Americans.
The most specific communication was with the Egyptian prime minister.
“We know the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack, not a protest,” said Clinton in the phone conversation.
Clinton defended her public blaming of the attack on the film, “Innocence of Muslims,” by saying there was a lot of information coming in, and it was difficult to sort out. She said that explanation was plausible because the video was stirring up protests that same day in Egypt, Tunisia and on the Arabian Peninsula.
But even that assertion is being challenged.
“I talked to people who were on the ground in Egypt who were very clear. The video had nothing to do with the attacks in Egypt. People said there were attacks going on throughout the region because of the video. That story just grew and grew,” said former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra, who is now author of “Architects of Disaster: The Destruction of Libya.”
“The attacks in Egypt didn’t have anything to do with the video,” repeated Hoekstra.
In addition to the revelations offered by Rep. Jordan, Hoekstra was impressed with the line of questioning from Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., on two different fronts. First, he was happy to see questions about the alleged weapons transferring going on in Libya to help arm Syrian rebels.
Secretary Clinton denied any such trafficking took place. Hoekstra isn’t buying it.
“I think there’s a lot of evidence out there – I talk about it a little bit in my book – that there was a weapons flow into Libya to support the rebels,” he said. “It could have been going on at exactly the time we were prohibited from going into Libya. I believe some of those weapons and fighters ultimately made their way into Syria.”
Another topic raised by Pompeo is one of Hoekstra’s biggest criticisms of the U.S. policy in Benghazi, that we chose our friends very poorly in Libya.
“America sided with radical jihadist groups that we used to help overthrow an ally, Moammar Gadhafi,” Hoekstra said. “(It was the) first time in American history that we believed that we could train, equip, manage and trust radical jihadist groups and that if we did that, they would change their behavior. As we found out in Benghazi, we were dead wrong.”
But while he applauded Jordan and Pompeo for their lines of questioning, he believes the Republicans on the committee could have done a much better job.
“I think, in some cases, we just didn’t drive hard enough,” he said. “We had other material we could have used that just wasn’t followed up with.”
He specifically wanted to see more emphasis on our alliance with radicals and the facts on any weapons trafficking.
“I think there’s a lot more to talk about with weapons going into Libya and weapons going out of Libya, and the U.S. government was involved in one way or another,” Hoekstra said. “Only a few people, like Hillary Clinton, know exactly how we were involved.”
Committee Democrats spent most of the marathon hearing defending Clinton and accusing Republicans of a partisan obsession with Clinton rather than a genuine passion to learn the truth.
“They stayed on message,” Hoekstra said. “They stayed focused. They weren’t about to do anything to get any closer to the truth about what happened in Benghazi or what happened in Libya that precipitated that. I don’t like it, but my hats are off. Their political spin machine was working overtime and they ran it very well.”
Democrats and many media pundits suggest Clinton’s performance boosts her 2016 White House bid. Hoekstra strongly disagrees.
“We took a success story that was built on 20 years of bipartisanship and with a single decision to flip sides, we took Libya from an island of stability into the chaos that we see today,” Hoekstra said. “It is exporting weapons, ideology and fighters all supporting radical jihadism. They want to destroy America. We unleashed that because of the decisions that Secretary of State Clinton made.”