Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

House Intensifies Benghazi Investigations. Why Now?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

House Intensifies Benghazi Investigations. Why Now?

Article excerpt

Congressional Republicans on Friday took several steps to intensify their investigation of the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, that took the lives of the US ambassador and three other Americans.

First, Rep. Darrell Issa (R) of California, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, issued a subpoena intended to force Secretary of State John Kerry to testify before the panel on Benghazi.

Representative Issa indicated that the event pushing him to this action was the release earlier this week of a memo drawn up shortly after the attack by Ben Rhodes, a White House national security communications aide. The document dealt with preparing Susan Rice, then US ambassador to the United Nations, for a round of Sunday talk show appearances.

Republicans say the memo shows Mr. Rhodes pushing to purposely play down the involvement of suspected members of Al Qaeda in the attack, as the presence of Islamists at the scene of the crime would undercut the administration's insistence that terrorism was declining, with an election only months away.

Issa said it's the memo's belated appearance, as well as its contents, that has angered him. His committee subpoenaed Benghazi- related papers last year. Yet the Rhodes document in its full form became public only after it was provided recently to the conservative group Judicial Watch, pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request.

"The fact that these documents were withheld from Congress for more than 19 months is alarming. The [State] Department is not entitled to delay responsive materials because it is embarrassing or implicates the roles and actions of senior officials," Issa wrote.

In addition, House Speaker John Boehner said Friday that he will schedule a vote on the creation of a special committee to investigate the Benghazi incident. Speaker Boehner said that the administration has misled the United States about the attacks and the public deserves the truth.

"What else about Benghazi is the Obama administration still hiding from the American people? …

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