Gowdy: Witnesses have confirmed stand-down order on night of Benghazi

Rep.Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said Wednesday that a number of witnesses had confirmed a stand-down order was given to military assets in proximity to Benghazi the night of the 2012 terror attack, while others said no one issued such an order.

“The best I can do is tell you what the witnesses say, and then you can decide who you think is more credible,” Gowdy said during an interview with Boston Herald Radio.

His comments came the same day the committee interviewed Jeremy Bash, a high-ranking Pentagon official who in 2012 authored an email indicating the military had forces “spinning” and prepared to head toward Benghazi when approved.

Gowdy said “there were no assets that could have gotten there” in time to save Ambassador Chris Stevens and Sean Smith, two Benghazi victims who died of smoke inhalation earlier in the evening of Sept. 11, 2012.

But he noted the question of whether assets could have arrived in time to save the other two victims, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, was “eminently fair.”

The South Carolina Republican has taken heat from Democrats for the length and scope of his investigation, which many critics have dismissed as a partisan exercise.

However, Gowdy noted the Justice Department has been equally slow to prosecute Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the only Benghazi suspect taken into U.S. custody.

“I don’t think a single Democrat has asked the Department of Justice why they haven’t brought Khatallah to trial yet,” he said. “I haven’t heard a single one complain about the amount of time that it’s taken the Department of Justice to bring the only person who’s been apprehended in connection with Benghazi to trial. So they’re willing to give a pass when their guys are doing an investigation; they do nothing but obstruct when we’re trying to do it.”

Gowdy has often been reluctant to comment on any aspect of the select committee’s probe, committing to his original pledge to conduct the investigation behind closed doors even amid political pressure to produce public results.

The chairman acknowledged Wednesday the practice has created a “news vacuum” that Democrats have filled with talking points about how lengthy and expensive the probe has become.

“I don’t know why the mainstream media doesn’t understand that you have to talk to everyone before you draw conclusions,” Gowdy said, noting the committee has roughly 12 witnesses left to interview before winding down its investigation.

The closed-door interview of Bash Wednesday came the week after a pair of high-profile interviews with Gen. David Petraeus and Leon Panetta.

Originally published 1/13/16, WashingtonExaminer.com