Liable in Libya?
From day one, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) has been clear about his role as head of the House's special committee on Benghazi. "I want this to transcend politics," he said. That's a tall order in this chamber, where Democrats are looking at every order of business as a possible campaign angle, hoping to catch Republicans at a vulnerable point and spin it into election gold. On Benghazi, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is already ginning up opposition to the committee, slamming it as a GOP fundraising ploy -- instead of what it really is: a truth-seeking mission.
"[The Left] raised money on Sandy Hook, they raised money on Katrina, they raised money on Iraq and Afghanistan," Rep. Gowdy pointed out. "It would be helpful if our colleagues on the other side of the aisle did not have selective amnesia when it comes to what's appropriate to raise money off of." In the end, he said, "The facts are neither Republican nor Democrat," Gowdy told Fox News. "They're facts."
And perhaps the most important one is what the White House knew about the attack on the U.S. Embassy that September night -- and what it didn't. For more than a year and a half, the Obama administration has seemed quite intent on burying the truth along with those four innocent Americans, including its own involvement in a wide-scale cover-up. "We know that intelligence analysts on the ground knew instantaneously that this was Al Qaeda and its affiliates who had led this attack," Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kans.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, explained. "...What it is that this administration did in the aftermath that didn't provide the American people the real knowledge about the actions that took place in the run-up to the deaths of four Americans?"
Whatever the administration was doing, it certainly didn't involve the U.S. military. As a community dedicating to protecting innocent Americans, our troops want to know why more wasn't done to provide the support essential to these officials' survival. That's at the heart of a new letter from Special Operations Speaks, an organization of our military's finest retired veterans, which happens to be chaired by FRC's own Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (U.S. Army-Ret.) In it, these brave men urge Congressman Gowdy to get to the bottom of a fundamental question: Why was there no military response? "When we as a nation put our people in harm's way, we must do so with the clear knowledge that we have done our very best to [defend them] when the chips are down. This is an American value. That essential trust and confidence was breached in Benghazi and broadcast a very dangerous message to future diplomats, warriors, and citizens."
For Trey Gowdy, hard questions won't be in short supply. But we can only hope that in asking them, Americans not only get the answers they need, but the assurance that this nightmare will never be repeated.
Homeland Insecurity: Sudan Mom Fights U.S. Indifference
Most Americans following Meriam Ibrahim's case have probably given the U.S. government the benefit of the doubt. But based on yesterday's Commerce-Justice-Science hearing, it's a benefit the Obama administration doesn't deserve. While there's been some speculation that the government may have been working behind the scenes on Ibrahim's release, Homeland Security Secretary put those rumors to rest with a jaw-dropping show of ignorance on her case and that of her two small American children, both imprisoned with her in Khartoum.
Congressman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), a staunch advocate for religious liberty, took the opportunity to press Homeland Security on its plan of action for the 27-year-old Christian doctor, whose faith is a death sentence under the nation's Sharia Law. "I'm sure you've heard of the case of Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian who was sentenced to death for apostasy," Franks said to newly appointed HSD head Jeh Johnson (video here).
"Her husband is a U.S. citizen and she has two young children, one of whom was just born two days ago in her mother's prison. Now, both of these children are eligible for U.S. citizenship and this case has become so high profile that many of us are deeply concerned about Meriam's safety in Sudan, especially if she wins her appeal and is released back into the Sudanese society at large. And my question to you, Mr. Secretary, is will you assure this Committee at large that you will prioritize this case and quickly review the possibility of granting Meriam a safe haven in the United States?" Johnson responded that he would "personally, along with the appropriate component heads take a look at this case. It sounds troubling."
Eyebrows shot up at the last sentence, which seemed to imply that a Cabinet-level official was oblivious to the persecution of two of his own citizens abroad. Rep. Franks seemed taken aback and asked if this was even a case the Department chief was aware of. "I was generally familiar with the case -- I think."
You think? The eyes of the international community have been trained on that overcrowded, bug-infested prison in Sudan since the story broke -- yet one of America's top security leaders isn't even sure if he knows the citizens shackled there? That's appalling. As I told Fox News's Megyn Kelly last night, at one time it meant something to be an American citizen. It meant that no matter where you were, no matter what you faced, you were not alone.
Were it not for the global community sounding the alarm, Meriam Ibrahim would be alone. Her children's own government can't be bothered to even investigate the facts of her case. Surely, they can take a break from their gay pride preparations to rescue two little children, whose lives literally hang in the balance. Or do they not take anything seriously besides LGBT month? Help FRC bring this travesty to President Obama's front door. Sign FRC's WhiteHouse.gov petition demanding action on behalf of this suffering American family.
Robertsons Not Ducking Biblical Truth
In Louisiana this week, you didn't need to turn on A&E to see Phil Robertson. The "Duck Dynasty" star was headlining another show: the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. With the same trademark honesty and humor, the patriarch of the Robertsons didn't give an inch on his personal beliefs. "GOP," he said, "you can't be right for America if you are wrong with God."
Over 30 minutes, the famous duck hunter covered plenty of ground -- everything from monogamy and Obamacare to a rehash of last December's clash with the forces of political correctness. He knew his comments on biblical sexuality would spark controversy, he said, but explained that it was all part of spiritual warfare. In an interview with Sean Hannity before the conference, Phil said he had no regrets. "It goes with the territory" of Christianity, he pointed out.
Phil's oldest son, Alan, echoed that same sentiment at FRC's Watchmen on the Wall conference last week, saying, "My dad has the heart and mindset of a prophet and is most compared to John the Baptist ... for speaking the truth in a culture that isn't prepared to hear truth. That doesn't change my dad's view at all. Prophets tend not to care about their public image." Today, I stood by the values of the Robertsons in my own speech at the RLC.
Like Phil and Alan, FRC knows all too well how hostile the country has become to Christianity. It's difficult to believe that our rights to exercise our faith would ever need defending in the United States. But, as I told the audience, it boils down to this: religious freedom is essential to who we are as Americans, and we can no longer assume that all our fellow Americans share that conviction, therefore we must now wage the fight of our lives to keep that essential freedom.
This fight is well under way. In the past, the struggle has been subtle and indirect, but today it is blatant and brutal. The founders did not believe our form of government could long endure absent the moral compass set by religious conviction. By invoking the need for protecting and restoring religious freedom, I am not signaling today a retreat to some higher ground after defeat in the "culture wars." I am not describing a scheme of redoubts where the flame of religious liberty is sheltered from the harsh winds of opinion and legislation. I am calling on all of us to recognize and affirm that there will be no liberty without religious liberty, there will be no constitutional government unless we remain -- proudly -- a moral and religious people. Check out the speech in its entirety here.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.