Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) also announced that Benghazi hearings would return next month featuring information brought forward to his panel by unnamed administration whistleblowers.
“During the course of the Committee’s investigation, numerous individuals have come forward with information related to the Benghazi attack,” Issa wrote today to Secretary of State John Kerry. “Some witnesses may be required to retain personal counsel to represent them before the Committee and in case the Department retaliates against them for cooperating with the Committee’s investigation. Additional witnesses may be compelled by subpoena to give testimony to the Committee and can be reasonably expected to retain personal counsel at that time.”
“In each case, witnesses may need to share sensitive or classified information with their lawyers,” Issa continued. “The Department’s unwillingness to make the process for clearing an attorney more transparent appears to be an effort to interfere with the rights of employees to furnish information to Congress.”
Yesterday, Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to turn over the unredacted version of events from the Pentagon point of view that night to his committee.
“The committee has requested this timeline from The Joint Staff. However, The Joint Staff has indicated that there would be delay in delivery of this timeline due to a requirement to coordinate it within the interagency,” he wrote in the letter to Hagel.
McKeon stressed that the confidential DoD document is “critical to ensuring that the committee has a comprehensive understanding of the events that transpired” that day when four Americans were killed.
When a reporter told White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday that he wanted to get the spokesman’s take on the House report, Carney snarked, “I bet you do.”
“It seems to me that if these members of Congress were genuinely interested in getting information, they would not have abandoned the customary oversight process and excluded Democratic members from the entire process, which is what they did,” Carney continued.
“…The concerted efforts by Republicans to politicize this have distracted from the real work that’s been done through the ARB to find out what happened and what steps need to be taken to improve the security at our embassy facilities. That report was very clear and very direct, and went right at the issues of concern.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member on the Oversight committee, called on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to basically trash-can the committees’ report.
“Speaker Boehner needs to immediately retract this erroneous report, remove it from his webpage, and apologize to Secretary Clinton for mischaracterizing a key document and making false allegations against her in the press,” Cummings said. “It was incredibly reckless — or worse — if these public accusations were made knowing that the documents do not support them.”
Cummings said the April 19 cable doesn’t bear Clinton’s signature but her printed name.
“Although a telephone call could have clarified this issue in a matter of moments, you chose not to check with the Department before making these highly inflammatory and erroneous accusations in a public forum,” Cummings wrote in a letter to Boehner yesterday. “The allegations in your staff report are false, extremely irresponsible, and lack even a rudimentary understanding of how State Department cables are processed.”
House Republicans are plunging forward with their effort.
“The Committee continues its examination of the deadly Benghazi terrorist attacks so we can ensure that the bureaucratic failures that left State Department personnel vulnerable are not repeated,” Royce said. “The Committee will continue to review the responsibility of senior State Department officials for the failure to provide proper security prior to the Benghazi attacks; needed improvements in embassy security; and the State Department’s alertness to the overall political climate and resulting terrorist threats in high-risk environments.”