The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

May 18, 2014

GOP Benghazi team brings long list of accusations

WASHINGTON — Republicans hoping to ride their Benghazi investigation to a November election sweep have entrusted a seven-member team with "getting to the truth," in the words of House Speaker John Boehner, about whether the Obama administration misled Americans about the deadly attack in Libya.

They insist the investigation isn't political.

But several GOP members of the new House Select Committee on Benghazi have made claims about administration wrongdoing. Some have participated in previous investigations into how the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans were killed on Sept. 11, 2012, and how the administration responded.

Democrats have yet to say if they'll participate in what will be the eighth investigation since the attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in the eastern Libyan city.

Republicans say they need to find out why security was insufficient, what the president did the night of the attack, why the U.S. military didn't intervene, why initial explanations focused on a protest over a YouTube video and whether the administration deliberately sought to hide evidence about its conduct.

Some of the more contentious arguments made by the GOP members:

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CHAIRMAN TREY GOWDY:

The second-term tea partyer and former prosecutor from South Carolina said two weeks ago there is evidence of a "cover-up." He cited a recently released email by White House national security communications aide Ben Rhodes.

He said the email "probably was the straw that broke the camel's back because that memo made it really clear we're going to blame an Internet video and not a broader policy failure in Libya." The White House has said Rhodes was referring to attacks across the Muslim world, not Benghazi specifically.

Gowdy has said former CIA Director Michael Morell "sanitized" a series of talking points used by then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice five days after the violence, substituting the term "extremist" for all references to "terrorist," and "demonstration" for "attack." Republicans say this was part of an effort by President Barack Obama's team to play down a major terrorist attack in the final weeks of his re-election campaign.

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