Republicans push for special Benghazi committee

The Republican-led House has held several oversight hearings investigating the terrorist Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and they're not over yet. Many House Republicans, however, want to go one step further and create a special committee to investigate the incident.

Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., has found 146 cosponsors so far - almost two-thirds of the 232 House Republicans - for his legislation to create a select committee for the investigation, which would be comprised of 19 congressmen. In addition to five members appointed by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and two more appointed by Boehner after consultation with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the committee would include the Republican chairmen and top Democrats from six relevant committees: the Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Homeland Security, Intelligence, Judiciary, and Oversight and Government Reform Committees.

Congress has in the past convened special committees to investigate scandals, such as Whitewater during the Clinton administration and Watergate.

Boehner on Thursday told reporters that he doesn't think an independent panel is necessary, since the current committees are doing a thorough job of looking into the attack.

Wolf, however, wrote in a letter to Boehner Thursday that he remains convinced a special committee is "the only mechanism to ensure that the complete truth comes out."

Wolf wrote that last week's hearing in the House Oversight Committee was a "positive step" but "also made clear that a thorough inquiry will require witnesses from across government - including the Defense Department, State Department, Intelligence Community, Justice Department and even the White House. Only a Select Committee would be able to bring the cross-jurisdictional expertise and subpoena authority to compel answers from these agencies."

The congressman's office said that 10 of his bill's cosponsors signed on to support it after the hearing last week. While Boehner hasn't expressed interest in it, Wolf's office is hoping that the growing support for the measure will compel House leadership to put it up for a vote.

Speaking Tuesday afternoon with reporters, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., argued Boehner has become "obsessed" with the Benghazi "cover-up" storyline in an effort to "rile up the tea party base." Republicans are "hyperventilating about Benghazi," Reid said. "This is about smear politics and nothing else."

"Again and again, Republicans have blocked, opposed and reduced embassy security funding - and, they continue to support the sequester, which would further reduce embassy security funding," the leader continued. "Republicans are more concerned about giving President Obama a black eye and taking shots at Secretary Clinton than actually tracking down the people who perform these outrageous acts of terrorism and bringing them to justice. Instead of securing our diplomatic posts, Republicans want to debate who changed talking points."

President Obama, meanwhile, argued Monday that the hearings and reports on the Benghazi attack have been unjustifiably focused on issues like the political talking points used in the immediate aftermath of the event, rather than focusing on how to prevent such events from happening again.

"The whole issue of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow," Mr. Obama said in a White House press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron. "What we have been very clear about throughout was that immediately after this event happened... nobody understood exactly what was taking place during the course of those few days."

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