A drone operator's classified testimony reportedly gives credence to allegations that Democrats and a Pentagon political appointee tried to stonewall efforts of the GOP-led House Benghazi Select Committee to question witnesses.
Lawnews.com writer Chris White
on Thursday posted a summary from Benghazi committee head Rep. Trey Gowdy on the June testimony from "John from Iowa," who called into Sean Hannity’s radio program in 2013 and said he'd been a drone sensor operator the night of the deadly Sept. 11, 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost.
"This drone sensor operator confirmed details the committee learned at the same time [the Department of Defense] was claiming it was 'expend[ing] significant resources to locate' him," the summary from the South Carolina GOP lawmaker states.
"The Air Force knew exactly who had called into the talk radio show in 2013. In other words, John’s testimony raises serious questions with respect to the representations made by a Pentagon political appointee."
"It now appears DOD had knowledge well in advance of who and where John was, but claimed he could not be located anyway. They claimed 'significant resources' had been spent attempting to find him, but given the facts, it’s hard to imagine just how much incompetence would be required for that to be true."
Assistant Secretary of Defense Stephen Hedger wrote a letter in April
about the burdensome costs of the committee's probe – a contention also embraced by Democrats on the panel; Hedger has now been subpoenaed
by the Select Committee.
"This Pentagon political appointee claimed in an official letter to the committee the Department of Defense could not find a requested witness, despite expending ‘significant resources’ searching for him," Gowdy said after the announcement, White reports.
"This witness is still on active duty and confirmed … the Air Force knew exactly who he was – a drone sensor operator who was operating over Benghazi on the night of the attacks."
The Benghazi panel's Democrats issued their own statement, saying the panel had already seen the video feed that "John" mentioned.
White reports there's yet another witness the GOP committee members want to question as well – and who came to the public's attention through a Facebook post.
This witness, whom White refers to as the "crew chief," was specifically mentioned in Hedger's letter as someone the Pentagon didn't feel was necessary to locate and produce before the committee, White reports.
And despite assurances from Department of Defense spokeswoman Laura Seal that then Pentagon "continues to make personnel available for interviews as requested by the Committee," an unnamed source tells White the Department of Defense has yet to agree to produce the "crew chief" for questioning.
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