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Republicans continue beating Benghazi drum

After the White House released some 100 pages of emails documenting the development of talking points used to brief the public on the attack in Benghazi, Democrats brandished the disclosure as evidence that there was no attempt by the White House to airbrush or spin the administration's response for political advantage.

The emails revealed only a bureaucratic tug-of-war between the State Department and the CIA, Democrats said, and Republican cries of a White House "cover-up" on Benghazi appeared to be false. The message: It was time to move on.

Republicans on Sunday delivered a response in unison: Not so fast.

"They released some emails, not everything," said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., on "Fox News Sunday." "We've only seen part of this story."

The talking points initially portrayed the attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi as an outgrowth of a spontaneous protest driven by an offensive film, but subsequent information revealed it to be a premeditated terrorist attack. And that discrepancy, Ryan said, still troubles him

"The burden of proof here is on the administration's side," he explained. "Why did they continue to push this kind of a story when they knew nearly immediately afterwards that that was not the case?"

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., seconded Ryan's call for further investigation on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"We know the administration kind of made up a tale here in order to make it seem like it wasn't a terrorist attack," he said. "I think that's worthy of investigation and the investigations ought to go forward."

"The talking points clearly were not accurate, and I think getting to the bottom of that is an important investigation," McConnell added.

"I'll always applaud the release of documents," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah., on CBS' "Face the Nation." "But let's put it in perspective...There are nearly 25,000 documents that they haven't released, most of which are unclassified. Release those."

For weeks, the administration was "telling the American people, 'Well, it was this video gone awry,'" Chaffetz said. "That was never true. People deserve the truth, and the families deserve the truth. I can't imagine that this administration would say those same things about what happened in Boston, where we had four people killed by terrorists."

Even if the talking points were not marred by political engineering on the part of the White House, Republicans said, the bigger questions stand: Who was responsible for the inadequate security that allowed the attack to happen in the first place, and why did we not act more quickly and aggressively to stop it?

"Let's understand, we have four dead Americans," said Chaffetz, blaming the administration, particularly the state department, for an inadequate security posture that invited tragedy. "We have a military that couldn't get there in less than 24 hours. We have a death trap that was in Benghazi and in Tripoli that didn't meet the most minimum of standards."

Current and former national security officials have said that, given security threats in the region and the lack of on-the-ground information, there was not enough time to prudently launch a military response to the attack before four American officials lost their lives.

Regardless of whether stopping the attack as it unfolded have been prohibitively difficult, Republicans said, there is plenty of blame to go around for the inadequate security in Benghazi beforehand.

"What's most important is someone made a decision to put an embassy and consulate in a war-torn country with no host country to guard that embassy or consulate, leaving the guarding and security up to a militia," said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on CNN. "That decision alone was a terrible and tragic error."

Paul has previously laid the blame for the lax security posture at the feet of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying it should disqualify her from ever again holding higher office.

He said he'd "stick by" that sentiment on Sunday, explaining: "She was asked repeatedly to provide security in Benghazi on several occasions including direct cables, and she says she never read the cables on security. I find that inexcusable and a dereliction of duty."

McConnell, Paul's home-state companion, declined to echo his junior colleague's opinion on Clinton's fitness for higher office, saying it's "way too early to be talking about the 2016 election, in my opinion."

He did underscore Paul's broader critique about deficient security. "The fact that the personnel there were not adequately secured is...not insignificant," said McConnell. "Clearly, we didn't have enough security there to protect our ambassador and the people on the ground there."

As the GOP continues stomping its feet about Benghazi, the administration has said that they will not let the controversy distract them from the work at hand.

"This is the Republican playbook here...they don't have a positive agenda," so they "try to drag Washington into a swamp of partisan fishing expeditions, trumped up hearings and false allegations," said senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer on "Face the Nation." "We are not going to let that distract us and the president from actually doing the people's work and fighting for the middle class."

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