House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and his colleagues have long contended that the Obama administration gave a “stand down” order to the military during the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, but full transcripts from interviews conducted by Issa’s Oversight Committee that were released yesterday show Issa knew that was not true even while he publicly claimed otherwise.
From the Associated Press
The “stand-down” theory centers on a Special Operations team of four — a detachment leader, a medic, a communications expert and a weapons operator with his foot in a cast — who were stopped from flying from Tripoli to Benghazi after the attacks of Sept. 11-12, 2012, had ended. Instead, they were instructed to help protect and care for those being evacuated from Benghazi and from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.
The senior military officer who issued the instruction to “remain in place” and the detachment leader who received it said it was the right decision and has been widely mischaracterized. The order was to remain in Tripoli and protect some three dozen embassy personnel rather than fly to Benghazi some 600 miles away after all Americans there would have been evacuated. And the medic is credited with saving the life of an evacuee from the attacks.
This is what Darrell Issa said earlier this year at a private fundraiser in New Hampshire:
“I have my suspicions, which is Secretary Clinton told Leon [Panetta] to stand down, and we all heard about the stand down order for two military personnel. That order is undeniable.”
Under different circumstances I’d say that Darrell Issa should be investigated by the Ethics Committee, but Republicans control that, too.
After nearly four years as chairman Issa still hasn’t found a smoking gun, but he has transformed the essential responsibility of oversight into a political sideshow.