Fox News' Van Susteren Leads Charge To Stalk Benghazi Survivors

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Just when you thought the Fox News-led crusade to politicize a terrorist attack that killed four Americans couldn't get any more exploitative, it does.

Here's the latest claim: The survivors of the deadly terror attack last September represent the key to the whole story, and only when Republican members of Congress are able to interview them, and possibly even subpoena them, will the truth come tumbling out.

Never mind that the survivors were interviewed by the FBI within days of the deadly assault and that the FBI's investigation remains ongoing. Never mind they were later interviewed by investigators working for retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering and a former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, who led an independent review of the State Department's handling of the attack. Never mind that even the conservative press has reported on why, for legal reasons, it might not be permissible for the survivors, many of whom are likely intelligence officers, to testify at this time before Congress.

And never mind that when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January and answered Benghazi-related questions for hours, not a single senator pressed her about the survivors.  

But that was then. Now, or at least this week, the Fox-fueled Benghazi talking point is all about the survivors and the increasingly loud demands that they come forward and tell their stories; that they be dragged into the right-wing production in hopes their presence will gin up interest in a story that was long ago politicized beyond recognition.

Alternately insisting the survivors are potential "whistleblowers" who've been put under a "gag" by President Obama, Benghazi conspiracy theorists seem determined to turn the victims into pawns. Fox's misguided Benghazi crusade has often been unfair, but the idea of the right-wing media turning their klieg lights on the Benghazi victims and demanding they become the story seems especially exploitative.

In what appears to be a coordinated campaign this week, Republicans have been working with Fox News to push the survivor angle, as Obama's critics now enter their sixth month touting wild conspiracy theories about the Benghazi attack. Thwarted at nearly ever turn in their attempt to manufacture a massive Watergate-style cover-up that would cripple the Obama administration, partisans now think parading victims of a terror attack in front of a Congressional hearing is the best way to keep the (nonexistent) cover-up story alive.

"Why haven't we heard Benghazi survivors before your committee," Fox News host Greta Van Susteren pressed Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) this week.  "What you do, you keep bringing these people and putting them under oath," she counseled. Demanding that victims of terror attacks be summoned before Congress to give their eyewitness accounts of bloody events when they've already gone through that traumatic experience with government investigators?

And note the hostile, dismissive language Van Susteren used when discussing the victims of the attack and how Republicans politicians should treat them [via Nexis, emphasis added]:

VAN SUSTEREN: You've got to subpoena these names. You've got to subpoena these, and depose them and put them under oath or you're never going to get the answer.

Note that previously the cry from Republicans regarding the survivors was that the GOP wanted access to the interviews they gave to the FBI. Late last week, the far right's favorite CBS News reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, tweeted that according to her source the transcripts of the FBI's survivor interviews had likely been delivered to Congress. (She later tweeted the interviews were in "unredacted form.")

Now this week, the conservative demand has changed and they want Republicans to conduct their own interviews with the survivors. (Depose them, Van Susteren orders.) Perhaps the long sought-after FBI interviews weren't helpful to the Benghazi conspiracy cause?

Then again, perhaps the victims simply aren't allowed to discuss the attack. As Washington, D.C. attorney Bill Bransford explained to Breitbart News this month:  

It is customary and probably consistent with valid non-disclosure policy to tell somebody who is a witness in an ongoing criminal investigation, which of course the FBI is there, so it's criminal and counter-terrorism, to tell (witnesses) they are not to discuss the substance of the interview or what they discussed with the investigating agents with anyone. And that would be consistent with a valid non-disclosure policy. So, at this stage, to get (Benghazi survivors) to talk might be tough.

Van Susteren and her Fox colleagues conveniently omit that fact though, as they rush in to push their latest Benghazi angle.

The morning after Rep. Chaffetz was urged by Van Susteren to subpoena Benghazi survivors, he appeared on Fox News yet again to hype GOP calls for access to the victims. Fox host Bill Hemmer joined Chaffetz in bemoaning the survivors' lack of visibility. "There has to be a reason why they're trying to protect these people from something, or somebody like you," Hemmer insisted.

Has the administration been "trying to protect" the Benghazi survivors? I don't know. But given the right-wing's shameless track record of trying to exploit and politicize the terror attack, that might actually be a wise and defensible move.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Sharyl Attkisson, Greta Van Susteren
Stories/Interests
Benghazi
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