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Rep. Jeff Duncan: This Administration Has A Serious Credibility Issue

DUNCAN: “You know I can’t discuss the possibility of U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war without also talking about Benghazi. This administration has a serious credibility issue with the American people. There are questions surrounding the Benghazi terrorist attack almost a year. When you factor in the IRS targeting of conservative groups, the AP and James Rosen issues, Fast and Furious, and NSA spying programs, the bottom line is there is a need for accountability and trust building from the administration. To paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche, he said I’m not upset over you not telling me the truth. I’m upset because from now on, I can’t believe you. The administration has a credibility issue. In my opinion, Secretaries Kerry and Hagel, Benghazi is germane to the discussions in Syria, because as you stated Mr. Secretary, the world was and is watching for our response. But after almost a year of not bringing anyone to justice in Benghazi, they are watching our response. Mr. Kerry, your predecessor asked what difference does it make? Well now this is the difference, Mr. Secretary: These issues call into question the accountability of this administration, its commitment to the personnel on the ground and the judgment that it uses when making these determinations. The American people deserve answers before we move forward talking about military involvement in Syria. Section 4 of your testimony today said this is about accountability. Sure it is. The American people deserve answers about Benghazi before we move forward with military involvement in Syria’s civil war. This is a picture – you might not be able to see it here, but you might be able to see it on the screen – this is a picture of Tyrone Woods given to me by his father Charles Woods, a Navy SEAL. The Woods family deserves answers. He was killed in Benghazi. America deserves answers before we send another man or woman the caliber of Ty Woods into harm’s way especially in a civil war, especially when there’s no clear indication that there is an imminent threat to the United States. I don’t question that chemical weapons were used in Syria. I’ve looked at the classified briefings. I do ask that if so, where are the other signatory countries of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) as the U.S. beats the drums of war against this regime in Syria? I have spoken to hundreds of constituents. This represents about 300 emails that my office has gotten and not a one, not a one member in my district in South Carolina are the emails of the people that have my contacted my office say ‘Go to Syria and fight this regime.’ To a letter, they say ‘no, do not go into Syria. Don’t get involved in their civil war.’ I spoke to eighth graders, about 150 eighth graders, yesterday. They get it. They get it that we shouldn’t be drug into somebody else’s civil war where there are no good guys. There are no good guys to get behind here and I can only envision an escalation of this current conflict. The same administration that was so quick to singly involve the U.S. in Syria now was so reluctant to use the same resources at its disposal to attempt to rescue the four brave Americans that fought for their lives at Benghazi. Mr. Kerry, you have never been one who has advocated for anything other than caution when involving U.S. forces in past conflicts. The same is true for the president and the vice president. Is the power of the executive branch so intoxicating that you would abandon past caution in favor of pulling the trigger on a military response so quickly? The reason that I say Benghazi is germane to our discussion on Syria is this: Secretary Kerry, have there been any efforts on the part of the United States directly or indirectly to provide weapons to the Syrian rebels? That would also include facilitating the transfer of weapons from Libyan rebels to Syrian rebels.

KERRY: Have there been efforts to…?

DUNCAN: Put weapons in the hands of the Syrian rebels. Also the transfer of weapons from Libya to Syria.

KERRY: Let me begin Congressman by challenging your proposition that I’ve never done anything except advocate caution, because I volunteered to fight for my country and that wasn’t a cautious thing to do when I did it.

CROSSTALK

KERRY: I’m going to finish, Congressman. I am going to finish. When I was in the United States Senate, I supported military action any number of occasions including Grenada, Panama, I can run down a list of them. I am not going to sit here and be told by you that I don’t have a sense of what the judgment is with respect to this. We’re talking about people being killed by gas and you want to go talk about Benghazi and Fast and Furious.

DUNCAN: I absolutely want to talk about Benghazi. Four Americans lost their lives. I have sympathy for the people in Syria. And I do think there should be a worldwide response. But we should act cautiously.

CROSSTALK

KERRY: We are acting cautiously. We are acting so cautiously that the president of the United States was accused of not acting because he wanted to have sufficient evidence and he wanted to build the case properly.

DUNCAN: It’s been 15 days.

KERRY: Congressman, Congressman.

CROSSTALK

KERRY: Mr. Chairman, point of privilege here, this is important. I think this is important. I think it is important whether or not we’re going into Syria in a way that the Congressman describes which I think most people in America don’t want to see. You don’t want to do that. That’s why the president has said no boots on the ground. This is not about getting into Syria’s civil war. This is about enforcing the principle that people shouldn’t be allowed to gas their citizens with impunity and if we don’t vote to do this, Assad will interpret from you that he’s free to go and do this any day he wants to. That’s what this is about, not getting involved in Syria’s civil war. So let’s draw the proper distinction here Congressman. We don’t deserve to drag this into yet another Benghazi discussion when the real issue here is whether or not the Congress is going to stand up for international norms with respect to dictators that have only been broken twice until Assad: Hitler and Saddam Hussein. And if we give license to somebody to continue that, shame on us.

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