Chaffetz talks Benghazi at Hinckley

N-Jason Chaffetz Colby Patterson
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) speaks to students about the Benghazi attacks at the Hinckley Institute of Politics on Friday afternoon. Photo by Dane Goodwin.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) speaks to students about the Benghazi attacks at the Hinckley Institute of Politics on Friday afternoon. Photo by Dane Goodwin.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) came to the Hinckley Institute of Politics on Friday to give his take on what really happened to the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya on the night of Sept. 11, 2012. In his presentation, Chaffetz said that the U.S. government misled the American people about the attack that killed four people.

Chaffetz, who serves on the House Committee on the Judiciary and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform — both of which investigated the incident — said that the testimony of those who were on the ground during the attack doesn’t line up with statements from the White House and U.S. government in the months following the incident.

“What’s imperative in this process is that people are truthful and honest. You can’t just do things because you can,” he said. “We have a host of statements and a government that is misleading.”

In the months leading up to the attack on the consulate, Chaffetz said there were multiple attacks on the compound and on Western organizations.

“It’s a very dangerous place,” Chaffetz said. “Most nights … people can tell you, you can hear gunfire … It’s the Wild West.”

In March 2012, Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens started requesting additional security for the embassy from local civilians it trusted, including a cell phone salesman to keep an eye on the property.

On April 6, assailants bombed the consulate Officials found the person who did it but released them. Later, a drive-by terrorist bombed a wall surrounding the compound June 6. On June 11, terrorists shot a rocket-propelled grenade into the British ambassador’s car.

Shortly after, terrorists bombed the Red Cross outpost in Benghazi in the middle of the night. After the bombing, the terrorists clarified that they bombed in the middle of the night because they only wanted to kill Christians and Americans. At that point, Western countries pulled out of Benghazi rapidly.

“It was apparent to me that we were the last [Western] flag flying in Benghazi. We were the last thing on their target list,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Wood in a Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the incident.
Chaffetz then walked students through the timeline of the incident. On the morning of the attack, the White House released a statement that they were leaning forward and ready for any attack.

“Guess what? That was never true. That was full propaganda,” Chaffetz said.

Having heard the testimonies of people on the ground and people in contact with Benghazi that night, Chaffetz is certain the event was a terrorist attack organized by Ansar al-Sharia. Given the close proximity of Benghazi to Europe, he added he does not “buy” the argument that no one could get to Benghazi in time to help.

“You can fly from Salt Lake to Paris, change planes to Tripoli and get to Benghazi faster than our military responded,” he said.

The FBI did not arrive in Benghazi for 18 days.

“We spend $600 billion a year to have the biggest, baddest military in the world, and we can’t get to Libya in 24 hours?” he asked.

Chaffetz said he wants to hear witnesses tell their story to the public.

“We have never, ever heard from a person who was on the ground that night in Benghazi,” he said. “Doesn’t that make you scratch your head? That’s because this administration [did] everything they possibly could to prevent that.”
Because of this, he said, Americans do not know what happened there.

Many students who attended the lecture heard about the events for the first time on Friday. Preston Bradwell and Zac Williams, undeclared freshmen, said the information in Chaffetz’s lecture was new to them.

“We as a nation are self-critical, it’s what makes us great. But when your federal government is perpetuating falsehood on a fundamental basis, that should scare everybody,” Chaffetz said to The Daily Utah Chronicle.

a.drysdale@chronicle.utah.edu