Boehner Pushes for Special Committee to Investigate Benghazi

Speaker cites “continued obstruction” by the Obama administration.

U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner speaks during a news briefing after a House Republican Conference meeting January 14, 2014. 
National Journal
Billy House
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Billy House
May 2, 2014, 9:14 a.m.

Speak­er John Boehner said Fri­day he will ask the House to vote on the cre­ation of a spe­cial com­mit­tee to “el­ev­ate” to a new level the con­gres­sion­al in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to the Benghazi at­tack that killed four Amer­ic­ans.

The House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee, chaired by Rep. Dar­rell Issa, has already is­sued a sub­poena for Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry to ap­pear be­fore his com­mit­tee on May 21 to an­swer ques­tions about the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s hand­ling of the at­tacks.

Boehner’s move is an­oth­er sign that Re­pub­lic­ans in­tend to con­tin­ue scru­tin­iz­ing the 2012 at­tack in Libya and ques­tion the ac­tions of then-Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton and oth­ers through this Novem­ber’s elec­tion, if not through 2016.

Spe­cific­ally, Re­pub­lic­ans are peg­ging their stepped-up ac­tions to email evid­ence they say proves that the White House pushed mis­lead­ing in­form­a­tion.

“In the days after four Amer­ic­ans were killed by ter­ror­ists, Pres­id­ent Obama’s ad­visers or­ches­trated a cam­paign to de­ceive their fel­low Amer­ic­ans as to what oc­curred, and we de­serve to know why,” Boehner said in a state­ment.

“Un­for­tu­nately, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s con­tin­ued ob­struc­tion has made clear that it is time for a House se­lect com­mit­tee to force the ad­min­is­tra­tion to end its stone­walling and come clean to con­gres­sion­al in­vest­ig­at­ors, an in­quir­ing me­dia, and the Amer­ic­an pub­lic,” he said. “It’s clear that ques­tions re­main, and the ad­min­is­tra­tion still does not re­spect the au­thor­ity of Con­gress to provide prop­er over­sight. This dis­missive­ness and eva­sion re­quires us to el­ev­ate the in­vest­ig­a­tion to a new level.”

Re­pub­lic­ans are fo­cus­ing on a newly re­leased email dated Sept. 14, 2012 to then-United Na­tions Am­bas­sad­or Susan Rice lay­ing out what she should say when she ap­peared on TV after the at­tack. The email, ob­tained by the con­ser­vat­ive group Ju­di­cial Watch, was writ­ten by White House Deputy Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Ad­viser Ben Rhodes.

Re­pub­lic­ans say the email bol­sters their claims that the ad­min­is­tra­tion was try­ing to sidestep blame for the in­cid­ent by de­pict­ing the at­tack as triggered by a video that in­sul­ted Is­lam. But White House press sec­ret­ary Jay Car­ney has re­futed that, say­ing the email was about the protests tak­ing place across the Middle East at the time, not Benghazi spe­cific­ally. Car­ney also ac­cused Re­pub­lic­ans of con­tinu­ing an ef­fort to politi­cize the at­tack.

“What we have seen since hours after the at­tack be­gin­ning with a state­ment by the Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­ee for pres­id­ent, is an at­tempt by Re­pub­lic­ans to politi­cize a tragedy and that con­tin­ues today, and yes­ter­day,” Car­ney told re­port­ers dur­ing a brief­ing on Thursday.

A spokes­man for House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi said Fri­day that she had yet to be con­tac­ted by Boehner or the Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship con­cern­ing a pro­pos­al to set up a se­lect com­mit­tee.

In the Sen­ate, Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id said Boehner’s an­nounce­ment shows that Re­pub­lic­ans care more about “de­fend­ing bil­lion­aires like the Koch broth­ers and try­ing to re­kindle de­bunked right-wing con­spir­acy the­or­ies than rais­ing the min­im­um wage or en­sur­ing wo­men re­ceive equal pay for equal work.”

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