Fox News contributor Allen West questioned the “loyalties” of decorated veteran and Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth for serving with her fellow Democrats on the Benghazi select committee.
West attacked the recently announced Democratic members of the recently formed committee for dismissing the importance of Benghazi during an appearance on the May 21 broadcast of The Janet Mefferd Show.
West remarked of Duckworth: “I just don’t know where her loyalties lie. You know, for her to have been a veteran, a wounded warrior for the United States Army, she should know that this is not the right thing. And hopefully, you know, she will remember the oath of office that she took as an Army officer and not the allegiance I guess she believes she has to the liberal progressives of the Democrat Party.”
As her congressional biography notes, Duckworth “was one of the first Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom until her helicopter was hit by an RPG on November 12, 2004. Duckworth lost her legs and partial use of her right arm in the explosion and was awarded a Purple Heart for her combat injuries.” She became a well-known advocate for veterans, and served as the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and then Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs on the federal level. She is currently a Lieutenant Colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard.
West is also a decorated veteran of the war in Iraq, albeit one whose service ended in controversy. He subsequently served one term in Congress, becoming a Fox News contributor after Florida voters declined to reelect him. During the interview, he also attacked Reps. Elijah Cummings, Adam Schiff, Adam Smith, and Linda Sánchez, the other Democratic appointees to the Benghazi select committee. West claimed that Smith is “one of those geeky little debaters that is going to try to micromanage every single detail,” while Sanchez has a “very whiny way.”
West has said Congress should consider impeaching President Obama over Benghazi. In a fundraising email for his political action committee, he accused the Obama administration of lying to the public and participating in “an ongoing cover-up to hide the truth.” He’s also claimed the administration has been disingenuously caring about the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls to distract the public from Benghazi.
From the May 21 edition of Salem Radio Network’s The Janet Mefferd Show:
WEST: Adam Smith — I can tell you he was the ranking member on the Armed Services Committee when I was there — is just one of those geeky little debaters that is going to try to micromanage every single detail and just like you say, just tie everything up in knots. Ms. [Linda] Sánchez, the exact same thing. She’s another one of those individuals that will, with the very whiny way that she has, to try to not get to the bottom of this but tie it, tie it up.
And the last person, Tammy Duckworth, you know, I just don’t know where her loyalties lie. You know, for her to have been a veteran, a wounded warrior for the United States Army, she should know that this is not the right thing. And hopefully, you know, she will remember the oath of office that she took as an Army officer and not the allegiance I guess she believes she has to the liberal progressives of the Democrat Party.
The former one-term Congressman Allen West disgraces Americans yet again by disparaging military veteran and Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth for her being one of the 5 Democrats (along with Adam Smith, Elijah Cummings, Adam Schiff, and Linda Sánchez) placed on the House Select Committee On Benghazi.
Remember that another certain former one-term GOP Congressman made baseless attacks against Duckworth two years ago, and his name was Joe Walsh.
WASHINGTON — Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Friday subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry to testify on the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Issa, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, tweeted that he has summoned Kerry to testify on May 21, when the committee holds a public hearing on the matter. He also accused the State Department of showing “a disturbing disregard for its legal obligations to Congress” when it comes to producing documents on the matter.
A State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that Kerry is scheduled to be in Mexico on May 21, adding that is something Issa’s committee “would have known if they had reached out to us instead of issuing a subpoena by tweet.”
The official said it’s unclear if Kerry “is even aware of the request” and said the department is “surprised” by Issa’s subpoena, given State officials have been “cooperating all along with the committee.”
Issa’s subpoena comes a day after he accused the administration of potentially criminal actions, as new allegations surfaced that the White House hid certain emails from Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes which discussed the attacks.
On Thursday White House press secretary Jay Carney vehemently denied any wrongdoing by the administration and accused Republicans of trying to politicize the incident that left four Americans dead.
"What we have seen since hours after the attack, beginning with a statement by the Republican nominee for president, is an attempt by Republicans to politicize a tragedy — and that continues today and yesterday," Carney said during his daily briefing. "The focus should be on making sure that what happened outside of the diplomatic facilities in Benghazi doesn’t happen again."
Kerry was not with the State Department when the Benghazi attacks happened. He was still a U.S. senator.
House Republicans have recently ramped up their attention to the Benghazi attack, after months of hearings and document requests that have produced little new information. In addition to Issa’s latest moves, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced Friday that he is forming a new select committee to investigate the incident, which The Huffington Post confirmed will be led by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).
"It’s clear that questions remain, and the administration still does not respect the authority of Congress to provide proper oversight," Boehner said in a statement. "This dismissiveness and evasion requires us to elevate the investigation to a new level. I intend for this select committee to have robust authority, and I will expect it to work quickly to get answers for the American people and the families of the victims."
Not all Republicans are thrilled with Issa’s renewed attention to the issue. Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said Thursday that his committee has interviewed more than a dozen witnesses closely connected to the Benghazi attack and concluded that, contrary to what Issa is alleging, there is no evidence that State Department officials delayed a decision to deploy resources to the scene.
Members of McKeon’s committee also called it “puzzling” that Issa would find their work “incomplete” given that all of their briefings on the issue were open to members of Issa’s committee, FOX News’ Chad Pergram reported.
The top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), slammed Issa’s move as a continuation of an increasingly partisan pattern of behavior.
“These actions are not a responsible approach to congressional oversight, they continue a trend of generating unnecessary conflict for the sake of publicity, and they are shockingly disrespectful to the Secretary of State,” Cummings said in a statement later Friday.
He also noted that Issa opposed subpoenaing then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2007 in the years-long investigation of phony Iraq War evidence, during which Issa then decried “the inappropriateness of hauling the secretary of state … out of the performance of her job.”
Currently, Kerry is dealing with crises in Ukraine, Syria, Israel, South Sudan, North Korea and other spots around the globe, while Issa is hoping to learn more about why a committee subpoena didn’t turn up an email about post-Benghazi talking points.
WASHINGTON, DC — Two top Democrats slammed their Republican colleagues on Wednesday for the “insulting way” they have carried out a year and a half worth of investigations into the supposed Benghazi scandal, urging them to relent and focus on preventing another such tragedy from occurring.
Reps. Adam Smith (D-CA) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) are the ranking members on the House committees on Armed Services and Oversight respectively, two of the four that have devoted considerable time and effort to getting to the bottom of just what happened the night of the Benghazi attack in 2012. Together they have sat through dozens of hours of hearings and depositions related to the Obama administration’s response to the assault that left four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya, dead at its end. “When something happens like happens in Benghazi,” Smith said, “we absolutely have to investigate, we have to exercise [our] oversight function in a responsible manner to figure out what happened and most importantly how to prevent it from happening again.”
But enough is enough according, they said. “That’s the great tragedy of this investigation that the Republicans have led,” Smith said, calling it “relentlessly partisan” and focused on finding something that can be used to embarrass the administration. Smith pointed to the fact that a week after the attack a Republican member of Congress first mentioned possible impeachment as evidence of the blatantly partisan tenor the investigations have taken on from the start.
“As a member of the Armed Services Committee, my biggest objection is that it makes Congress look bad and it undermines the legitimate reason that we should be exercising oversight,” Smith said. “When you do that, when you [launch investigations] in a partisan manner as the Republicans have done … we are not performing the function we are supposed to be performing, which is smart, valid oversight,” he continued.
“Frankly, it is an embarrassment for our committees,” Cummings agreed. “It undermines our credibility, and nobody will take us seriously.” Cummings also hit out at Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), noting the numerous times he has massaged facts or outright fabricated them in order to move the Benghazi scandal forward. “Take a minute and think about what he suggested: that Hillary Clinton told the Secretary of Defense of the United States to withhold military assistance when her friend, Ambassador Chris Stevens, and three other Americans were dying,” Cummings said, referring to the conspiracy theory that the Obama adminsitration had ordered the military to “stand down” the night of the attack. Despite a Republican-written report debunking the existence of such an order, Issa went on to repeat the claim only days later. “That is a horrendous and baseless accusation,” Cummings chided.
The latest push from the GOP to rekindle Benghazi involved calling Gen. Carter Ham (Ret.), the former commander of U.S. Africa Command, before a closed session of the Armed Services Committee on Wednesday morning. This, Cummings pointed out, marked the sixth time that Ham had been compelled to appear before Congress since the attack nearly nineteen months ago. “This is the insulting way Republicans have conducted this investigation,” Cummings lamented. “Instead of honoring his service and looking for ways to save future lives, Republicans are playing a game of political ‘gotcha’ with our military.”
Smith described the process that Republicans have taken in the Benghazi instance as “throwing something against the wall and hoping something sticks” without any basis in fact. “There’s too many hypothetical, too many suppositions,” he said, in response to a question from the crowd about allegations that former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell’s helping clear the pathway for Hillary Clinton’s possible presidential run. The question, Smith added, mirrored the Republican model of “make it up first, then try to figure it out later.” Cummings jumped in, adding: “Try to find facts that don’t exist to support the allegation.”
Democrats have spent the last few weeks urging their friends across the aisle to end their Benghazi witchhunt, citing a recent letter from the Department of Defense saying that millions of dollars have been spent in pursuit of facts that don’t exist. And while Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) seems content to let these investigations run indefinitely, he’s resisting calls from even more conservative wings of his party to appoint a special committee in the House to seek out White House malfeasance.
As if to punctuate how the supposed scandal isn’t going away anytime soon, however, on Wednesday afternoon on the other side of the Capitol, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Kelly Ayotte (R-AZ) will be holding a press conference. The subject? Why the media refuses to cover the Benghazi cover-up and demanding a joint committee investigate the Obama administration. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s at least the fifth such call for a committee.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) sought to silence the ranking Democrat on the Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), during a hearing on the Internal Revenue Service’s improper targeting of groups applying for tax-exempt status.
"I am a member of the Congress of the United States of America! I am tired of this," Rep. Elijah Cummings exclaimed.
Retired Admiral Mike Mullen and former Ambassador Thomas Pickering today debunked the conservative media myth that the Obama administration failed to deploy adequate military resources to Benghazi, Libya, in response to the September 11, 2012, attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission. Mullen told members of Congress that the “military did everything they possibly could that night.” Pickering agreed, testifying that the military is not always “positioned to come in short notice to deal with those issues.”
Mullen and Pickering led the State Department Accountability Review Board (ARB), which issued an independent report in December about the attacks. Both men are testifying today at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing led by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who, along with members of the conservative media, have attempted to politicize the attacks to criticize the Obama administration.
During his questioning time, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) noted that Republicans have suggested the Obama administration “withheld assistance on the night of the attacks for political reasons.” As Media Matters has documented, conservative media — led by Fox News — have echoed Republicans in persistently using this line of attack when criticizing the Obama administration over Benghazi.
Mullen, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007-2011, debunked the myth, stating that the "military did everything they possibly could that night. They just couldn’t get there in time." Mullen also detailed the “many forces that moved that night” and said a military response “is not something you can just wish to happen instantly. There’s a lot of planning, preparation” to “do it as rapidly as one can do it.”
With days–perhaps hours–to go before President Obama announces recommendations from Vice President Biden’s gun violence task force, battles lines have already been drawn.
Most dramatically, with the heartrending burials of 20 innocent first-graders and six of their heroic educators as a backdrop, NRA top lobbyist Wayne LaPierre issued a belligerent and self-pitying demand for yet more weaponry, and the posting of armed guards at every school in America. But as the nation debates Obama’s proposals—and LaPierre’s—it will be important to reexamine the NRA’s greatest PR victory of the last few years: the greatly overworked, shamefully distorted Fast and Furious scandal.
As Fortune reporter Katherine Eban revealed in an outstanding investigation published last summer, much of what Republicans have claimed about the scandal—including the headline-grabbing assertion that the US government intentionally provided guns to Mexican drug cartels—is false. The real story is of an agency sabotaged by the same pro-gun mania which led to the Newtown tragedy.
The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) opened up the Fast and Furious case to monitor American teenagers, who had been tapped by Mexican drug cartels to help arm the war in Mexico by becoming straw purchasers or front buyers. Our laws permit a teenager with no prior criminal record to pay cash and buy an unlimited number of military assault rifles. Their favorites included AR-15 variants like the Bushmaster .223 rifle used by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Were Lanza in Arizona, he could have walked into nearly any federally licensed firearms dealer, plunked down $10,000 in cash, and left with 20 AK-47s in his hands—as do so many straw purchasers.
In a sane country, the inquiry into Brian Terry’s death would have examined all the tools that the ATF agents lacked in trying to build a case against the straw purchasers in Fast and Furious. There is no firearms trafficking statute, which would have allowed the ATF to build a swifter case that targeted the straw purchasers and their recruiters as a group. There is no comprehensive database of firearms purchases, which would have given the agents a much-needed real-time look at their suspects’ activities. In fact, the laws are so lax that the buyers didn’t even need to resort to a favored avenue for shady purchases: our totally unregulated gun shows, which require no background checks at all. (A sane country also would not have left the ATF to languish without a permanent head for fully six years—an unacceptable situation that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has rightly called on the president to address with a recess appointment.)
The Republican-led House, acting in lockstep with the NRA, twisted the facts of the ill-fated gun trafficking investigation in Phoenix to complete almost every item on its political To Do list. It used the scandal to bludgeon and destabilize the ATF, the agency charged with enforcing the nation’s gun laws. It diverted attention from the ineffective gun laws that made the ATF’s job in Fast and Furious nearly impossible. And it emerged with a cherished talking point: that the gun laws on the books right now are more than adequate, and it’s only their enforcement that has flaws.
The effort by the NRA and its friends in Congress to stymie any discussion of our permissive guns laws during its Fast and Furious investigation was made plain by the lead sled dog, Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), who at multiple hearings openly silenced Democratic members from even asking questions about the strength of the laws or potential legislative solutions.
If the NRA and Republican congressmen really cared about Brian Terry or his tragic death, they would have probed the actual causes underlying it, instead of proliferating a lot of phony conspiracy theories so wild, they almost left Stephen Colbert at a loss for words.
Early on in the investigation, the few reality-based ideas came from Representative Elijah Cummings, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s ranking Democrat. Cummings held a hearing on the state of the gun laws and issued a report with recommendations including the enactment of a federal firearms trafficking statute. But the 36-month Republican-led investigation into Fast and Furious yielded not a single suggestion for strengthening the laws or empowering the ATF. Instead, it was a blueprint for reducing what passes as gun enforcement to rubble. As we’re tragically reminded over and over, that comes at a tragic price.
A Democratic congressman has launched an investigation into True The Vote, a conservative Tea Party group that has attempted to purge thousands of registered voters from voting rolls across the country ahead of the November presidential election.
The organization is pursuing an aggressive ground campaign to challenge people’s right to vote based on their residency and citizenship, such as the hundreds of college students who failed to identify their dorm room numbers on voter registration applications.
In a letter to Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of True The Vote, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) accused the Texas-based organization of challenging the registration of thousands of legitimate voters “based on insufficient, inaccurate, and faulty evidence.”
"True the Vote, its volunteers, and its affiliated groups have a horrendous record of filing inaccurate voter registration challenges, causing legitimate voters — through no fault of their own — to receive letters from local election officials notifying them that their registrations have been challenged and requiring them to take steps to remedy false accusations against them," wrote Cummings, the ranking minority member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
The letter continues: “Multiple reviews by state and local government officials have documented voter registration challenges submitted by your volunteers based on insufficient evidence, outdated or inaccurate data, and faulty software and database capabilities. Across multiple states, government officials of both political parties have criticized your methods and work product for their lack of accuracy and reliability.”
"Your tactics have been so problematic that even Ohio Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted has condemned them as potentially illegal," Cummings states in his letter.
Cummings told The Huffington Post that it appears that True The Vote has been extremely selective in whom it targets for a challenge.
"We have asked True The Vote to provide us with documentation that shows exactly how they select folks to go after and challenge," Cummings said. Cummings said some of what he’s heard about the group’s strategy has been disturbing and, if true, threatens fundamental American rights.
"It does appear that they are quite selective in who they challenge, and it appears they primarily go after people who might be inclined to vote Democratic," Cummings said. The congressman said that in Ohio, for example, True The Vote has targeted nine of 13 districts won by President Barack Obama in 2008.
"It also appears they challenge, at disproportionate rates, African Americans," Cummings said, characterizing these tactics as "blatant." He questioned True The Vote’s intent and said that Engelbrecht has made it public knowledge that she’d like to see Obama defeated.
Cummings said, “You would think someone trying to address voter fraud wouldn’t be talking about who they want in the White House; it would be ‘I want to talk about fair elections.’”
True The Vote’s website describes the organization’s mission as to “restore truth, faith, and integrity to our elections.”
The group and its offshoots in various states have gained a reputation for aggressively challenging the legitimacy of properly registered voters. Critics say their tactics are often flawed and especially target poor and minority communities.
The group has also filed lawsuits against election officials in Ohio and Indiana, and instructs volunteers on how to use software to cross-check voter rolls against driver’s license records and property records, among other databases. A Government Accountability Board in Wisconsin, where True The Vote raised questions about thousands of voter signatures, called the results of the group’s process "at best flawed."
Last week, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) asked the Justice Department to “protect Americans from voter intimidation” in the face of “widespread efforts by Tea Party-linked groups to intimidate voters and suppress the vote, particularly in low-income and minority neighborhoods.”
In a letter to Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, head of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, Boxer asked that they uphold the tenets of the Voting Rights Act.
"No group can be allowed to intimidate or interfere with this fundamental right that is essential for American democracy," Boxer wrote.
"This type of intimidation must stop," Boxer continued. "I don’t believe this is ‘True the Vote.’ I believe it’s ‘Stop the Vote.’"
h/t: Huffington Post
Cummings Launches Investigation of “True the Vote”; Raises Questions about Conservative Group’s Campaign to Challenge Legitimate Voters | Congressman Elijah Cummings
Washington, DC (Oct. 5, 2012)—Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to Catherine Engelbrecht, President and Founder of True the Vote, requesting documents relating to the group’s “horrendous record” of filing inaccurate voter registration challenges across the country.
“At some point, an effort to challenge voter registrations by the thousands without any legitimate basis may be evidence of illegal voter suppression,” wrote Cummings. “If these efforts are intentional, politically-motivated, and widespread across multiple states, they could amount to a criminal conspiracy to deny legitimate voters their constitutional rights.”
Cummings’ letter details how numerous groups affiliated with True the Vote are engaging in a coordinated campaign to challenge legitimate voters across the country, including in Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Maryland, although local and state election officials have repeatedly determined that these challenges are baseless.
The system of checks and balances works best when the separate branches of government are inherently and proudly adversarial toward one another. But that can’t happen when partisanship defines when and how accountability moments play out.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa — the headline-hungry California Republican who on Wednesday engineered a committee vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt — forgot that essential rule.
He failed to build a credible case or a credible coalition for his initiative. After a day of increasingly ridiculous posturing, Issa secured the contempt citation he sought. But is came on a straight party-line vote that rendered the decision all but meaningless.
The chairman’s heavy-handed style invoted the reproach that the contempt vote was “nothing more than a political witch hunt,” as People for the American Way president Michael Keegan termed it.
“To be sure, Congress has a legitimate interest in investigating Operation Fast and Furious, but Chairman Issa and Republican majority on the Committee appear to be more interested in scoring political points than in getting to the bottom of what happened,” argued Keegan, who added that, “The hoops the Committee is demanding the Attorney General jump through illustrate that these contempt hearings are as partisan as they are extreme. Over the course of this ‘investigation,’ the Committee has ordered the A.G. to produce documents whose confidentiality is protected by federal law, has refused to subpoena Bush Administration officials to testify about their knowledge of the operation during their time in office, has refused to allow public testimony from officials whose testimony counters Issa’s partisan narrative, and has repeatedly rejected the A.G.’s efforts to accommodate the committee, making compliance all but impossible.”
Issa’s actions undermined not just his own credibility but any sense that he and his allies might be acting in defense of — or with any regard for — the Constitution.
There is no reason to suggest that Holder is above criticism for his actions as Attorney General. He has been called out by Democrats as well as Republicans on a variety of issues. And he has not always managed his response to Issa’s abuses well. Nor should anyone who vaiues transparency and government oversight be pleased when a president determines that it is necessary to invoke “executive privilege” in a fight with Congress, as Barack Obama has done to thwart Issa’s demands.
But it is Issa whose actions have been contemptible. He is demanding deliberative documents that are ordinarily off-limits to Congress, a big ask, yet he has not built a credible coalition of supporters for the demand. And when the details of the documents and the issues involved are laid out—along with the offers by Holder to brief the committee—it quickly becomes evident that the committee chairman is so unwilling to compromise that he won’t take “yes” for an answer.