I just read through Congressman Trey Gowdy’s opening statement to the special committee to investigate what happened at Benghazi. Unless you live under a rock somewhere, you know Hillary Clinton was called to testify to the committee yesterday.
I am so impressed with that opening statement that I want to share some of it here. It’s a heartening example why we should not stereotype all politicians as grubby, dishonest moral reprobates. I applaud the clarity of Gowdy’s statement and its brutal honesty. First, he speaks of the four men who died trying to stave off the attack:
Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods served our country with courage and with honor. They were killed under circumstances most of us could never imagine. Under cover of darkness, terrorists poured through the front gate of our facility and attacked our people and our property with machine guns, mortars and fire. . . .
We know what they gave us. What do we owe them? Justice for those who killed them. We owe their families our everlasting respect and gratitude. We owe them – and each other – the truth.
Gowdy then turns to what kinds of truth we need to know:
The truth about where and why our military was positioned as it was on the anniversary of 9-11.
The truth about what was happening and being discussed in Washington while our people were under attack.
The truth about what led to the attacks.
The truth about what our government told the American people after the attacks.
Why were there so many requests for more security personnel and equipment, and why were those requests denied in Washington?
Those were only a few of the truths he listed that we need to know. He then took aim at critics of the committee and provided a sad history of the lack of real investigation until now:
This committee is the first committee to review more than fifty thousand pages of documents because we insisted they be produced. . . .
This committee is the first committee to thoroughly and individually interview scores of other witnesses, many of them for the first time.
This committee is the first committee to review thousands of pages of documents from top State Department personnel.
This committee is the first committee to demand access to relevant documents from the CIA, the FBI, the Department of Defense, the State Department, and even the White House.
This committee is the first committee to demand access to the emails to and from Ambassador Chris Stevens. How could an investigation possibly be considered credible without reviewing the emails of the person most knowledgeable about Libya?
Hillary Clinton wanted to make it seem this committee was set up only to derail her presidential run. Gowdy would have none of that, pointing out how everyone, from the State Department to congressional Democrats on the committee to Hillary herself, has done their best to stonewall the investigation. She was being called to testify solely because she was secretary of state at the time of this attack.
Finally, he gave what I consider a rousing conclusion:
There are certain characteristics that make our country unique in the annals of history. We are the greatest experiment in self-governance the world has ever known. And part of that self-governance includes self-scrutiny – even of the highest officials.
Our country is strong enough to handle the truth. And our fellow citizens expect us to pursue the truth, wherever the facts take us.
So this committee is going to do what we pledged to do, and what should have been done long ago, which is interview the witnesses, examine the relevant evidence, and access the documents. We are going to pursue the truth in a manner worthy of the memory of the four men who lost their lives and worthy of the respect of our fellow citizens.
We are going to write that final, definitive accounting of what happened in Benghazi. We would like to do it with your help, but we are going to do it nonetheless. Because understanding what happened in Benghazi goes to the heart of who we are as a country and the promises we make to those we send into harm’s way.
They deserve the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The people we work for deserve the truth. The family and friends of those killed representing this country deserve the truth. There is no statute of limitations on that truth.
I am impressed. May the truth win out.