Rep. Issa on Benghazi report: "A lie to the American people"

(CBS News) On Monday, President Obama called the Republican-led hearings on the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, a "sideshow driven by politics." On Tuesday, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, rejected Obama's claim, insisting that the hearings are balanced and necessary. 

"We had three career State Department officials including the highest ranking person in the State Department present there, the acting ambassador Gregory Hicks. He's not a partisan," Issa said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning." 

Issa said that Hicks "knew it was a terrorist attack from the get-go, the now-deceased ambassador said to him, his dying words if you will ... 'Greg, we're under attack.'"

Mr. Obama dismissed the notion that the administration tried to cover up the true nature of the attack, saying "the day after it happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism." But Issa and others have focused on Ambassador Susan Rice's appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows five days after the assault, in which she said the attacks stemmed from a protest regarding an anti-Islamic video. The talking points from which she was operating underwent several rounds of revisions, apparently softening the description of the attack in an attempt to spare the State Department criticism, though the White House says the changes were merely stylstic.

Issa said those changes, which he counted as 12, "took the CIA report from true to a lie to the American people."

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Further addressing Rice's Sept. 16 appearance "Face the Nation," which also featured Libyan president Mohammed Magarief, Issa said, "You had the president of Libya making it very clear that this was a premeditated terrorist attack on September 11 and you had Susan Rice in a very non-diplomatic way effectively saying either he didn't know what he was doing or he was lying."

"And then you wonder why it took us three weeks for the FBI to get to Benghazi," he added, touching on claims that the Libyan government was uncooperative in the wake of Rice's contradictory account.

Issa also touched on the unfolding scandal surrounding the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative and tea party groups for excessive review of their tax-exempt status during the 2012 elections.

"How dare the administration imply that they're going to get to the bottom of it? This was a targeting of the president's political enemies effectively and lies about it during the election year so that it wasn't discovered until afterwards," Issa said, calling for an "open and transparent" investigation of what he says amounts to "deliberate and repeated ... ideological attacks."

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