Excerpted from DAILY MAIL
The U.S. Department of Defense has agreed to make available to Congress a Marine Corps colonel who was in command of U.S. Special Forces in Northern Africa on the night armed terrorists staged a military-style assault on an American diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya.
A series of requests for Marine Col. George Bristol’s testimony from Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, both Republicans, had fallen on deaf ears until Friday. The Pentagon had claimed that since Bristol had retired, it ‘cannot compel’ him to tell congressional panels what he knows about the Benghazi attack.
Chaffetz said on July 9 that the Defense Department was ‘not willing to pass along any sort of information’ related to Bristol’s whereabouts.
Now Army Maj. Robert Firman has confirmed to MailOnline that due to an ‘administrative error,’ Bristol was mistakenly classified as a retired officer despite his current active-duty status.
‘The Department of Defense has fully cooperated with congressional requests to understand the attacks on the Benghazi compound,’ Firman said. ‘Col. George Bristol, USMC, will be available to meet with House and Senate members and their staffs.’
MailOnline has located Bristol’s home in Northern Virginia town in recent weeks. On Thursday evening a woman answered the door and confirmed that he lived there, but the colonel himself has not responded to four separate requests for an interview.
Chaffetz’s and Graham’s offices did not immediately offer reactions to the Pentagon’s change of heart.
Firman told MailOnline that the about-face came after Sen. Graham sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday, asking for reconsideration.
That move followed a report in the Marine Corps Times, which cited a Marine Corps source in concluding that Bristol’s retirement would not become final until August 1.
On Tuesday Firman had told the newspaper, in error, that ‘Col. Bristol was not invited by Congress to testify before he retired.’
Bristol’s testimony could provide a crucial missing link in lawmakers’ understanding of what happened in Benghazi.
In his letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday, Sen. Graham 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.’
‘[H]e would be the ideal person to speak with,’ Graham wrote, ‘about what happened on the ground in Benghazi.’ Keep Reading