Select Committee Subpoenas Assistant Secretary of Defense Stephen Hedger

June 10, 2016
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy (SC-04) released the following statement after the committee subpoenaed Assistant Secretary of Defense Stephen Hedger, a Pentagon political appointee, to testify in private, under oath on Wednesday, June 15:

“This Pentagon political appointee claimed in an official letter to the committee the Department of Defense could not find a requested witness, despite expending ‘significant resources’ searching for him. This witness is still on active duty and confirmed Thursday the Air Force knew exactly who he was – a drone sensor operator who was operating over Benghazi on the night of the attacks. Mr. Hedger will now have the opportunity to detail exactly what ‘resources’ he ‘expended’ and how. I look forward to him explaining the serious questions that have arisen with respect to this matter, including whether they are related to incompetence or deliberate concealment of the witness from a congressional inquiry.”

In his April 28 letter to Chairman Gowdy that was leaked to the press, Hedger stated he “would appreciate a meeting with you at your nearest convenience to discuss these issues[.]”

In response, Gowdy wrote that the “overtly partisan” letter “intentionally mischaracterizes both the nature of the Committee’s investigation and its interaction with the Department of Defense. It is also riddled with factual inaccuracies, which not only does a disservice to the public but also does a disservice to the women and men who work for the Department of Defense.” He stated that Pentagon political staffers are “welcome to waste taxpayer dollars writing partisan, factually deficient letters to our committee, coordinate the language with House Democrats, and then leak it to the media,” but that “will not prevent this committee from interviewing all witnesses who can help us write the final, definitive accounting of what happened before, during, and after the attacks that killed four Americans in Benghazi[.]”

On May 20, three months after the committee’s request, the Department of Defense provided a complete list of names of drone personnel from the time of the attacks. While it is unclear if the Department knew at the time it had finally provided the name of “John from Iowa,” the committee did. Based on this drone sensor operator’s testimony to the committee Thursday, it now appears the Department had knowledge well in advance of who and where John was. In fact, the Department had been in contact with him regarding his public statements prior to the committee’s request. The committee intends to question Hedger about this discrepancy and other matters.

View the timeline of events regarding “John from Iowa.”