#BENGHAZI: State Dept Drags Its Feet, Pentagon Suffers ‘Administrative Error’.

State Department Drags Its Feet

In late June, Rep. Darrell Issa slapped the State Department with subpoenas for four employees in a rather strongly worded letter to Secretary of State Kerry. These four employes had not been made available to the Oversight committee as was requested in May. (For more on the May 17 letter, Read: State Dept on Issa Subpoenas: Received “Out of the Blue”… Witnesses “Need Time to Review and Prep”)

The four employees named in the subpoena were:

  • Eric Boswell, Former Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Diplomatic Security
  • Scott Bultrowicz, Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Director of the Diplomatic Security Service, Bureau of Diplomatic Security
  • Elizabeth Dibble, Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
  • Elizabeth Jones, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau Near Eastern Affairs

Keep in mind that last December, Boswell ‘resigned’ along with Charlene Lamb and Raymond Maxwell. The status of Bultrowicz was in question last December as well.

To date, these individuals have not yet appeared before the Oversight committee.

The Missing Colonel

In early July, interest in interviewing Colonel George Bristol of AFRICOM regarding the events that unfolded in Benghazi arose. An inquiry was made to the Pentagon and the response received was along the lines of ‘he’s retired, you can’t compel him…and oh, we don’t know where he is anyway’. CBS’s Sharyl Attkisson reported:

Marine Corps Col. George Bristol was in a key position in the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) chain of command the night of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. As such, he’s high on the list of people that some Republican members of Congress want to interview. But they don’t know where he is and the Pentagon isn’t telling.

Pentagon spokesman Major Robert Firman told CBS News that the Department of Defense “cannot compel retired members to testify before Congress.”

Colonel Bristol is not the only AFRICOM commander to testify; General Carter Ham was called on June 26th, 2013. General Ham was in command on the night of the attack in Benghazi as Sharyl Attkisson reported last month:

Ham was head of the agency during the Sept. 11, 2012 attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Lt. Col. Michael Gibson and Rear Admiral Brian Losey of Special Operations Command in Africa will also be questioned.

Gibson’s name has made news in previous Benghazi hearings; diplomat Gregory Hicks had testified the Army lieutenant colonel was told not to go ahead and send reinforcements to Libya as violence escalated at the embassy, an account that differed from that of the White House’s.

General Ham’s statements appear to contradict what multiple sources have said about threats to the mission in Benghazi. General Ham asserts there were no advance threat warnings nor does he think Stevens saw a threat either:

Gen Carter Ham at #ASF2013 said there was no advance threat intel on #Benghazi. He does not believe Amb Chris Stevens saw a threat either.

— Philip J. Crowley (@PJCrowley) July 19, 2013

This statement from Ham flies in the face of testimony by just about every official to date, that we were warned by Libyan officials three days in advance and ignores the cables sent by Ambassador Stevens himself warning of an attack.

Crowley also tweeted Ham indicated a two hour response time would be expensive:

Gen Carter Ham at #ASF2013: if we want the ability to respond to any contingency within two hours, be prepared to write a very big check. — Philip J. Crowley (@PJCrowley) July 19, 2013

This seems an odd thing to say when Ham told Rep. Chaffetz in October of last year that resources were at the ready but no order to protect the mission was given. Crowley also tweeted that Ham made an excuse as to why the perpetrators had not yet been brought to justice. These recent statements from Ham might suggest pressure has been brought to bear on him.

Back to Colonel Bristol

With the middle of July upon us and the pressure rising for the four State Department employees to testify looming, a funny thing happened in the case of the misplaced Colonel. The Pentagon found him:

The U.S. Department of Defense has agreed to make available to Congress a Marine Corps colonel who was in command of U.S. Special Forces in Northern Africa on the night armed terrorists staged a military-style assault on an American diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. A series of requests for Marine Col. George Bristol’s testimony from Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, both Republicans, had fallen on deaf ears until Friday. The Pentagon had claimed that since Bristol had retired, it ‘cannot compel’ him to tell congressional panels what he knows about the Benghazi attack. Chaffetz said on July 9 that the Defense Department was ‘not willing to pass along any sort of information’ related to Bristol’s whereabouts. Now Air Force Maj. Robert Firman has confirmed to MailOnline that due to an ‘administrative error,’ Bristol was mistakenly classified as a retired officer despite his current active-duty status.

‘Administrative error’? One has to wonder how stupid the Pentagon thinks we are? The use of ‘administrative error’ is being used because the Pentagon was busted telling a lie by the Marine Corps Times, the Mail Online reports:

Firman told MailOnline that the about-face came after Sen. Graham sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday, asking for reconsideration. That move followed a report in the Marine Corps Times, which cited a Marine Corps source in concluding that Bristol’s retirement would not become final until August 1. On Tuesday Firman had told the newspaper, in error, that ‘Col. Bristol was not invited by Congress to testify before he retired.’

New new hearing dates have been announced as of the publishing of this article. When testimony resumes, coverage will be posted. In the meantime, here is an interesting question:

I wonder how often the Pentagon misplaces a Marine Col on active duty? #Benghazi http://t.co/BztGmtfE6K

— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) July 19, 2013

Shortlink:

Posted by on July 21, 2013.
Filed under 9/11, Benghazi, Libya.
Tagged with: .
LadyLiberty1885 (A.P. Dillon) is a Conservative minded mother and wife living in the Triangle area of NC. Mrs. Dillon began writing in 2009 when she founded LadyLiberty1885. Her writing can also be found at Da Tech Guy and at Wizbang. Mrs. Dillon also write science fiction and children's novellas that are works in progress and unpublished as of yet.

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  • GarandFan

    The Democrats can spin this as much as they want, but evidently there are a lot of people who were involved and the Democrats DO NOT want any of them saying anything.

    Just another day in the life of ‘the most transparent administration, evah!’

    • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

      I’m really starting to miss the lies and coverups of the Bush years. They were so transparent as opposed to the ‘transparency’ Obama’s been giving us.

  • Walter_Cronanty

    What difference does it make?!!! Let’s talk about Obama’s sainted son, Trayvon.

  • Commander_Chico

    Of all the things for the opposition to focus on, this is not the thing.

    They can rant and rave and make up shit, but in the end, sometimes bad things happen on dangerous missions.

    • Retired military

      Gee Chico
      All It would take is for Obama to order the Head of the Joint Chiefs to have that COL in front of Congress at 0700 on Monday. I wonder why that doesn’t happen. Maybe Obama doesn’t want the answers to the Bhengazi questions or maybe he already knows the answers and doesn’t want them public.

      • Commander_Chico

        I don’t know, maybe the colonel is busy with his duties as a special operations commander. Might be doing something WRT to Libya, Mali or Somalia right now more important than Issa’s sideshow?

        • Walter_Cronanty

          Perfectly logical response, Chico, except the Pentagon kept saying he was retired:

          “The Pentagon had claimed that since Bristol had retired, it ‘cannot compel’ him to tell congressional panels what he knows about the Benghazi attack. Chaffetz said on July 9 that the Defense Department was ‘not willing to pass along any sort of information’ related to Bristol’s whereabouts. Now Air Force Maj. Robert Firman has confirmed to MailOnline that due to an ‘administrative error,’ Bristol was mistakenly classified as a retired officer despite his current active-duty status.”

          Come on Chico, you can’t defend this. They lied to Congress.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            You’re either in Retired status, or you’re not. There’s no middle ground.

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            Officers are not “retired” in the common sense of the word. They collect reduced pay for reduced services and can be recalled to active duty at any time by the President and the officials to whom he delegates that power.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            True, just like I am subject to recall as a retiree. But that’s a semantic quibble. The phrase is ‘retired’ – not ‘subject to recall at whim’.

            Once you’re retired, you’re retired. You aren’t serving in the active military. If you aren’t reactivated, you’re retired.

            And I see no hint that he was ‘reactivated’ – but the statement was that he ‘retired’ and could not be compelled to give his testimony.

            Note the phrasing on that? ‘Could not be compelled’?

            Nothing there about whether or not he could voluntarily show up, or be subpoenaed by Congress to appear – just ‘could not be compelled’. If he was retired, he ‘could not be compelled’ – but he could be requested. No indication of whether that request was made and what his reply was seems available.

            And if you’re active duty, and the military wants you somewhere, they’ll get you there. It’s not like DC is halfway around the world, after all.

            They’re just screwing around. If he was still on active duty, they lied stating he was retired. There wasn’t an ‘administrative error’.

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            But he’s NOT even retired. He’s still on active duty;.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            Yes.

            Which makes the lie even more glaring.

            If you’re on active duty, you’re not retired. One set of orders and some travel time later, he’s in DC in front of Congress.

            Someone, for whatever reason (and I leave it up to the reader to postulate why) decided he needed to be kept out of Congress’s clutches.

            “Uh, sorry! He’s… retired. Yeah, he retired, and he’s… building a cabin in upstate Alaska. No phones or mail up there, you know? Yeah, that’s the ticket… he’s, um, unavailable – for good.”

          • Commander_Chico

            See above, it really could have been a mistake, some E-5 or O-2 at the Pentagon looked at the wrong George Bristol on the database.

            Anyways, what could he really say? This all happened within four hours. Not enough time to plan and deploy a rescue mission. Pretty soon, things were OBE and there was no point in deploying anyone, certainly given the risk that a rescue mission would only get more guys killed. Hammelburg, Mayaguez, Eagle Claw, etc.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            Nope, I’m not buying it. There may be multiples of a name, but there’s going to be fewer of the same rank, and at that point they’d look at SSANs. They’re not going to go “Oh, here’s a Chico, Commander” and pick the status of the first one and report it up the line.

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            But he’s NOT even retired. He’s still on active duty;.

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            They perjured themselves before Congress.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            Someone was ass-covering, and got caught.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            True, just like I am subject to recall as a retiree. But that’s a semantic quibble. The phrase is ‘retired’ – not ‘subject to recall at whim’.

            Once you’re retired, you’re retired. You aren’t serving in the active military. If you aren’t reactivated, you’re retired.

            And I see no hint that he was ‘reactivated’ – but the statement was that he ‘retired’ and could not be compelled to give his testimony.

            Note the phrasing on that? ‘Could not be compelled’?

            Nothing there about whether or not he could voluntarily show up, or be subpoenaed by Congress to appear – just ‘could not be compelled’. If he was retired, he ‘could not be compelled’ – but he could be requested. No indication of whether that request was made and what his reply was seems available.

            And if you’re active duty, and the military wants you somewhere, they’ll get you there. It’s not like DC is halfway around the world, after all.

            They’re just screwing around. If he was still on active duty, they lied stating he was retired. There wasn’t an ‘administrative error’.

          • Commander_Chico

            “Lied” is a pretty strong word. Having had access to DOD personnel directories, it would not surprise me that there was more than one George Bristol on the rosters. I know there are several others with my name on them – active, reserve and retired.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            And at that point you go “Rank” then SSAN. You double-check – because it’s your responsibility to provide the right name.

            That’s simple, E2 personnel stuff. If you’re looking for someone in the alpha roster, you don’t just grab the first name that matches.

          • Walter_Cronanty

            How many Marine Colonels, Bristol, George, who were “in command of U.S. Special Forces Northern Africa on the night armed terrorists staged a military-style assault on an American diplomatic outpost in Benghazi” do you really think there are? Sorry Chico, I’m not buyin’ it.

            If you’re right, and the Marines “lost” Colonel Bristol, then this country is in much worse shape that even I think it is, and I think we are on a steep down slope, entering a period of European style decay and irrelevance.

        • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

          More likely watching an anemometer spin somewhere in the Aleutians…

    • LiberalNightmare

      How long before Obama says exactly the same thing? You should send Jay Carney your resume.

  • LiberalNightmare

    Funny, the administration seems to be very willing to let this crisis go to waste.

  • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

    Based on my time as a personnel specialist in the Reserves, there’s
    “Retired”, and “Not Retired”. The military takes retirement pretty
    seriously, after all, and there’s a considerable amount of paperwork that has to be processed, records have to be shuffled and sent to the military records center in Denver, the member has have his status changed and (depending on whether active duty or a Reserve/Guard component) retirement pay calculated and started.

    There’s not going to be an ‘administrative error’ saying someone’s retired when they’re not.

    Especially not a Colonel.

    “I wonder how often the Pentagon misplaces a Marine Col on active duty?”

    They knew exactly where he was assigned, and what his status was.