Saying he refuses “to allow the Senate to be used as a venue for baseless partisan attacks,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid quashed a GOP request to create a Select Committee on the Benghazi consulate attack.
Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte have led the charge for a special committee in recent days. There also is support for the idea in the House. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) fired off a similar request to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) earlier this week, but Boehner said he didn’t believe a new panel was necessary.
Proponents of the select committee say having one panel to oversee the investigation would streamline the multiple probes currently being conducted by Congress. Committees that deal with intelligence, foreign affairs, homeland security and oversight are all looking into the attacks. Furthermore, the State Department also has established a review board to examine its handling of the Sept. 11 assault.
The House and Senate Intelligence Committees were briefed by former CIA Director David Petraeus on Capitol Hill earlier Friday, where he testified that the intelligence agency viewed the attack as a work of terrorism.
Reid, a Nevada Democrat, and many others on Capitol Hill argue that a new committee would unnecessarily duplicate ongoing investigations, and Reid said in his letter that he was concerned that a new, Watergate-style panel would “further politicize” the fallout over the attacks.
“The elections are over,” Reid wrote. “It is time to put an end to the partisan politicization of national security and begin working together to strengthen our efforts to dismantle and destroy the terrorist networks that threaten us.”=
For a guy who took every opportunity to politicize the Iraq War, Harry Reid sure has found religion all of a sudden. Recall Reid declaring that the war in Iraq was “lost” — in April of 2007. This sentiment was echoed by our current president, then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and other prominent Democrats who wished to use the war as a political club with which to beat the Republicans over the head. Reid is the last person on earth who should be complaining about “politicizing” national security.
But understand Boehner’s reluctance to form a Select Committee. He has Rep. Issa’s oversight committee — the best investigative committee on the Hill — looking into all aspects of the Benghazi attack. Of course, this is a GOP controlled committee where a select committee would be jointly run. Issa will peek into a lot of dark places that a select committee would probably be prevented from doing.
A select committee would be a PR bonanza for those chosen, but the real work is probably best left to Issa’s and Rep. King’s Homeland Security Committee.