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Hidden Benghazi commander to testify – not retired after all

Col George Bristol
Marine Corps Col. George Bristol

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Earlier this month, Congress was looking for Marine Col. George Bristol to testify on the events that unfolded during the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Bristol was in a key position in the U.S. Africa Command leadership that night, but the Pentagon said he had retired and it could not “compel retired members to testify before Congress.”

Now it seems there was an error – Bristol is not retired after all, according to the Daily Mail.  The U.S. Department of Defense will allow members of Congress to question the colonel, saying an “administrative error” caused the misunderstanding.

U. S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and U. S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., had sent a series of requests for Bristol’s testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, but the requests went unanswered until Friday.

“There is every reason to expect that a briefing [with Col. Bristol] will take place in the near future,” Claude Chafin, the spokesman for the Republican majority on the House Armed Services Committee, told The Washington Times Friday. “We are working out the details with the Department of Defense.”

“Col. Bristol will be available to meet with House and Senate members and their staffs very soon,” Air Force Maj. Robert A. Firman, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed to The Times.

Firman told the Daily Mail that the sudden “about-face” came as a result of a letter Graham sent to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, asking for assistance. Graham’s letter cited Bristol’s “in-depth knowledge of the region, coupled with his close interaction with U.S. Special Operations Forces operating on the African continent.”

The House Armed Services Committee questioned Bristol’s former superiors, commander of Special Operations Command Africa Rear Adm. Brian Losey and former commander Gen. Carter Ham, who happens to be retired, in a closed-door hearing on June 26.

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