Rep. Steve Stockman, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, tells Newsmax TV that the decision to bring charges against a former Libyan militia commander for the Benghazi attack is "ironic" considering the State Department hasn’t encouraged its own witnesses to come forward.
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"We still haven't gotten a letter from the State Department issuing a statement allowing witnesses to come forward and testify because they're under apparently a secret agreement," said the Texas Republican in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
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Meanwhile, Ahmed Abu Khattala insisted to The Associated Press on Wednesday that he was not involved in the Sept. 11, 2012 attack that claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
U.S. Officials named Khattala and an unspecified number of others in a sealed complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. though it’s unclear what charges he and the others face as Libya's Justice Ministry declined to comment on the U.S. charges.
Well, I find it ironic because as you know we had several hearings in which witnesses at the last minute decide not to show up for a hearing. We still haven't heard from some of the people that were there — in fact I'm not sure we've heard from anybody that was there," asserted Stockman.
Khattala was the commander of an Islamist militia group called Abu Obaida Bin Jarrah. However, he said Wednesday he had abandoned the militia and begun working as a construction contractor.
"What we're really asking John Kerry and the State Department to do is issue a wider statement that they can testify and I understand somebody else gave them the quasi OK but we need it in writing and we need a strong, firm answer and that's why we need a special prosecutor," according to Stockman, who charged that the Obama administration has "stonewalled us in every way possible."
He accused President Barack Obama of trying to "trivialize" the deadly attack, which occurred less than two months before the 2012 presidential election.
"He's trying to trivialize it and make it look like he's doing something but in reality the only thing that would really count is if we had a special prosecutor," explained Stockman, who said he supports a "discharge petition" to force House Speaker John Boehner to appoint a special prosecutor.
Stockman also accused House Democrats of trying to interfere with the investigation into the Benghazi attack.
"We spent more time on Trayvon Martin than we did on foreign policy which would jeopardize other lives," he said. "It's a tragedy in this nation that we somehow lose focus on things and drop the ball. This is a really serious case and the administration, consulate and the Democrats in joining together in stopping the investigation."
With respect to the discharge petition, Stockman said Boehner has resisted naming a special prosecutor thus far.
"His theory is that the committees are doing their will. But the problem is . . . they're not getting a resolve for the answers they need to — and a special prosecutor would . . . actually have more ability to be more flexible to get to the bottom of it," according to Stockman.
Stockman, who has criticized Boehner’s leadership in the past, said he will be watching the speaker’s actions on immigration and other issues in the coming months ahead.
"It depends, really, on several actions in the coming three or four months whether he shows the leadership that's needed to really direct our conference," Stockman observed. "So I'm waiting . . . to see his actions coming up because it's going to be some really tough votes coming and he's got to stick by the guns and not let the president bully him into a weaker position."
As lawmakers are gearing up for a fight over a possible government shutdown, Stockman said he supports a Keep the Government Open Act, which would fund programs other than Obamacare.
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"If the president signs it, the government stays open and everybody's happy. But, unfortunately, we'll be characterized as something else," he explained. "But we want to pass the bill — Keep the Government Open Act — and then go around and promote the bill and not just turn it over to Obama to let him veto it right away. So please sign this, Mr. President, to keep the government open."
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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