Rep. Cummings: Benghazi probe turning into witch-hunt

(CBS News) The top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said the investigation into the death of four Americans in Libya is becoming a "witch-hunt."

On "Face The Nation" he said Republican statements about the attack are "basically based on a campaign schedule, trying to give Romney some talking points. I don't think that our men who were killed deserve this. I don't think our diplomatic corps deserves this. We can do better."

Cummings' counterpart, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif, who is Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has a different take. He said on the same program that "we need to get to the truth. We need to get it real-time, and we need to quit having people say something is true when long afterwards they know it isn't."

Issa compared Obama administration statements about the Libya attack to when President George W. Bush declared the war in Iraq won in 2003.

"I listened, rightfully so, to people who said, 'Look, there are still problems, and they're still dying,' and quite frankly, things got worse in many ways after that statement," Issa said after Mr. Bush declared "mission accomplished" aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier.

"We're going through a 'mission accomplished' moment," Issa said.

Sen. Graham: Libya is "exhibit A of a failed foreign policy"

Cummings, however, said the Republicans are treating the incident, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, like a "political football."

"[T[his conspiracy stuff is kind of ridiculous, to be honest with you. And I'm kind of surprised that they've gone to these lengths, but you know, that's what they do," Cummings said.

"We have a situation where we rushed to a hearing. We don't have substantial evidence yet. We're still gathering evidence, coming to conclusions, and looking in search of facts," Cummings argued.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing last week on the attacks. State Department official Charlene Lamb testified on security at the embassy, who said the State Department allocated "the correct number of assets in Benghazi."

Issa took issue with that statement, saying, "Everybody who working throughout the Middle East is at risk if we cannot get the security level right."

Issa was asked by host Bob Schieffer about Republicans in Congress voting to cut $300 million from embassy security. He said that although it was a reduction from what President Obama requested, it was an actual "increase" in funds and was a "sufficient" amount.

"You can't always look to money when there's money [already] sitting there," Issa said, pointing to a $2.2 billion discretionary fund able to be used for spending.

"They did in fact cut the budget for security, and I'm hoping that they will join me... in getting emergency supplemental for our embassies so we can protect our people," Cummings responded.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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