The 14-plus months since my nephew Sean Smith was killed in the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi have been a winding tale of navigating the halls of Washington D.C. as a private citizen.
Since publicly expressing my support for Congressman Frank Wolf’s efforts to establish an Independent Select Committee to investigate Benghazi in December 2012, via House Res. 36, I have spoken to hundreds of Congressional and Senatorial Representatives asking for support for Congressman Wolf’s bill and have discussed a variety of Benghazi based topics.
I have given interviews to members of the media, consulted with various intelligence and military personnel about what happened in Benghazi.
In addition, I have also written articles about a variety of Benghazi related topics and have written many emails and letters asking for assistance in pursuit of the truth about the real scandal that is Benghazi.
The object lesson of this journey is that every American citizen should hold their government accountable and not be afraid to confront the members of Congress and the president when bad behavior, avarice greed, or lies and criminal activity are present. The myriad of scandals plaguing the Obama administration are almost Shakespearean in their variety and scope.
It is especially frustrating when President Obama pleads continued ignorance to issues like Benghazi, the IRS targeting of conservatives, NSA spy activities, failed promises regarding the Affordable Care Act, along with a Justice Department that fails to comply with the law. These scandals are like a disease with little chance of a cure unless the American public and the media start speaking out.
Without a doubt, Benghazi became personal when my nephew Sean was murdered. Granted, Sean was part of my extended family via his marriage to my wife’s niece. But, ultimately, family is family.
During the summer of 2013, when I was feeling somewhat frustrated about the slow moment of progress in the House of Representatives regarding Benghazi, I started asking friends, Congressional aides and other individuals whom I respect why the Senate cannot step up to the plate and establish their own Independent Select Committee.
Therefore, I was thrilled when I read Senator Ted Cruz’s proposed bill, Senate Resolution 225, the week of the year anniversary of my nephew Sean’s death on September 11, 2013. Senate Resolution 225 wishes to establish an Independent Joint Select Committee to fully investigate Benghazi.
I believe in the process of a Select Committee. For Benghazi, we need one set of committee members, from both the House and Senate, who can read classified documents and who have subpoena power.
Starting today, a letter I wrote to Senator Cruz, in support of Senate Res. 225, will be handed out to the members of the Senate as a "Dear Colleague" letter. That letter is included in the text of this commentary. All Americans should be outraged about what happened in Benghazi.
This op-ed, the letters I have written, and the phone calls I have made about Benghazi are one more step towards the getting to the truth about what happened to four brave Americans on September 11, 2012 and the continued aftermath and consequences of that attack.
Text of Letter to Sen. Ted Cruz:
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Senate, A mother of an American hero needs your help. It is time for an establishment of a Bipartisan Independent Joint Select Committee on Benghazi. Pat Smith, myself, and the other family members of the Benghazi murder victims deserve and demand your attention to this matter.
We have been vocal supporters for the efforts on the House side, via Congressman Frank Wolf’s House Resolution 36, and for some of the efforts on part of the Senate to get at the truth about the real scandal that is Benghazi. Personally, while there has been some progress via the various committees, some of the most obvious questions I have about what happened in Benghazi have yet to be answered.
1. Why was Ambassador Steven’s requests for additional security ignored by the State Department and the Department of Defense? Surely the attacks on the Red Cross and the British Ambassador to Libya in 2012 should have sounded a warning that additional security was needed at the diplomatic outpost in Libya.
2. What was the nature of the establishment of a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi and why was it not deemed a true Consulate? Could it be that the change of terminology circumvented the need for this facility to be up to State Department code in terms of security?
3. Who gave the stand down order that prevented military assets from being deployed to aid our Americans that were in definite distress? The families of the murdered victims on the September 11, 2012 do not buy the premise that the diplomatic outpost could not have been reached in time. No attempt was made and that violated any principle established by our Government and Military to come to the rescue when Americans are being attacked.
4. What was President Obama doing on the night of the attack?
5. Why was an anti-Islamic video blamed for being the impetus of the attack for a full two weeks after the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi? This appears to be a cultivation of a known lie.
6. Why did it take the FBI over six months to post pictures of the suspected murderers and why is no reward being currently being offered for their capture?
In the original letter that I wrote to Congressman Frank Wolf, in December 2012, I paraphrased Martin Luther King who actually stated, “Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere.”
As a family member of a Benghazi murder victim it is time to establish an atmosphere about Benghazi where truth and accountability can aid in the process of justice.
In countless hearings, I have heard words to the effect that we need to find out what happened in Benghazi to prevent this from ever happening again.
I agree with that sentiment.
But as an adult one must understand all the details of a mistake to avoid making it again. I believe that a Bipartisan Independent Joint Select committee is the real pathway to the truth. We need an independent body of members of the House and Senate that have the authority to read classified documents and that has a subpoena power.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, I urge you to lay aside partisan politics and, without prejudice, approve the establishment of a Joint Select Committee to investigate Benghazi.
Senator Reid, as you wrote in a letter dated November 16, 2012 to Senator John McCain, “Examining the events of Benghazi is an imperative of the utmost importance.”
Well, Senator Reid, I will take your principles by your written word. Additionally, you stated in the November 16, 2012 to Senator McCain, “I refuse to allow the Senate to be used as a venue for baseless partisan attacks.” Senator Reid, you can avoid that by establishing a Bipartisan Independent Joint Select Committee.
As I stated in an August 2, 2013 letter to Congressman Frank Wolf, and I believe this even more so now, “A failure to establish an atmosphere of truth and accountability about Benghazi sends a simple and directly dangerous message to countries that do not have America’s best interests at heart.
The failure of Benghazi tells our enemies that you can kill American citizens and civil servants and not face any consequences.” Ladies and Gentlemen of the Senate, the time to act is now. That dangerous message continues to be sent. Let not history catch you sleeping.
Michael K. Ingmire
Michael Ingmire is a musician, writer, and activist based in North Carolina. He is the uncle of Sean Smith, one of the four Americans killed during the attacks in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.