Benghazi panel interviews drone pilots after standoff with Pentagon

Benghazi panel interviews drone pilots after standoff with Pentagon
© Greg Nash

The House Select Committee on Benghazi interviewed two drone pilots active during the night of the 2012 terror attack in Libya, it announced Thursday, following a public spat with the Defense Department.

The pilots had been at the center of a sparring contest between committee Republicans and the Pentagon in recent weeks.

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In an unusually bold letter, the Pentagon suggested lawmakers were wasting its time with “multiple and changing requests” for information and interviews, some of which were “unnecessary.”

The committee did not need to talk to the pilot, the Pentagon said, because it already had access to video from the evening of the Benghazi violence, “and it remains unclear what additional information could be gained from these interviews, especially the pilots.”

Republicans, in turn, worried that the Defense Department was picking sides in a partisan war and dragging its feet on demands from its overseers in Congress.

The committee had inquired about the drone pilots in February, but the request was ignored for more than a month, Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyThe family secret Bruce Ohr told Rod Rosenstein about Russia case Trey Gowdy joins Fox News as a contributor Congress must take the next steps on federal criminal justice reforms MORE (R-S.C.) said. During the back and forth, the Pentagon also appeared to misstate the timeline of the committee’s requests.

But this week, the committee finally interviewed two pilots, who were not identified.

“Political appointees may think it is ‘unnecessary,’ but talking to the service members with firsthand knowledge is just as important as talking to the generals and admirals who command them,” Gowdy said in a statement. “It is irresponsible for Democrats to dismiss and ignore public claims without even talking to the person who made them, and the administration should provide this individual to the committee immediately so we can do our job.”

In addition to the drone pilots, the committee also interviewed an eyewitness this week, it said.

The Benghazi panel is in the final stages of its work and plans to release its report in the next month, according to Gowdy.