One Year Later, Benghazi Questions Still Unanswered

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A year after the attack in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, critics still have serious questions about what really happened -- and what they still don't know.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., has been one of the most dogged questioners. 

"We don't know why the facility was open in the first place," Rep. Gowdy said. "It didn't meet security specifications."

Gowdy believes the crucial question of why forces weren't ordered to the rescue still looms large. Then there's the matter of a top Obama official going on all the major networks shortly afterward, blaming an anti-Islamic video for stirring up the attackers.

"There has still not been an explanation for why Ambassador [Susan] Rice was the only person on the planet who thought a video had something to do with this siege," Gowdy said.

Christopher Farrell, senior researcher at the watchdog group, Judicial Watch, has been investigating the Benghazi debacle.

"Whoever's going to be held accountable for what happened?" Farrell asked. "The folks at the State Department who were suspended from their positions have just been reinstated. They've been on a year's administrative leave, with pay," he said, pointing out that's hardly any kind of punishment.

This week, Farrell took part in a Judicial Watch panel with Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., which highlighted some startling accusations about Benghazi, such as survivors being forced to sign statements they won't testify or talk about what happened.

"Some CIA operatives involved in the agency's mission in Libya have been subjected to frequent, even monthly, polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency's workings," Wolf said.

"Why are people signing non-disclosure agreements and being polygraphed?" Farrell asked.

Gowdy noted, "There's a presumption when you don't want someone to talk, what they have to say would not be beneficial for you."

"What is the administration afraid of?" Wolf challenged. "What will the survivors disclose to the American people if given the opportunity to speak?"

Farrell and Wolf believe it may all be tied to a covert operation to send Libyan weapons to some rebel forces in Syria, even those with links to al Qaeda, which some speculate may have been tied to an American plan to help arm the rebels. 

"Were these rebels being armed with weapons collected in Benghazi?" Wolf asked. "Again, there's reason to believe this may be the case."

"The Obama administration may have been involved in an arms smuggling operation, in essence, to al Qaeda in Syria," Farrell charged. "And it's very murky, and it's very unclear how that may or may not have played out, but that's what it looks like."

"And this is the sentence they don't want to hear on television: 'The Obama administration is arming al Qaeda,'" he continued. "And that's what's occurring on Libyan freighters docking at Turkish ports and trans-shipping arms into Syria."

Gowdy said he's heard such things but can't know because no one's testified -- or they've been prevented from testifying.

"I don't know why we were in Benghazi," Gowdy said. "I've heard theories, some benign, some not benign."

But he does know this:

"Not a single person has been arrested," Gowdy said. "Not a single person has been brought to justice."

And Congress has accomplished little.

"There are five congressional committees. All have failed," Farrell said.

Wolf agreed, saying, "It's startling how little progress has been made in this investigation over the last past year."

"News people can find the witnesses, but apparently the world's leading law enforcement agency, the FBI, cannot," Gowdy said.

Then-Secretary of STate Hillary Clinton famously asked a Jan. 23 congressional hearing, "What difference at this point does it make?"

"It matters because four people were murdered," Gowdy said. "It matters because we've always told people who went in our stead, 'We won't leave you there; we won't abandon you. We will defend you.' And thirdly, it matters because it's not asking too much that government tells you the truth when things are good and when things are not good."

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.