Republican senators plan to introduce a resolution Wednesday calling for a select committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya in which four Americans were killed, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
“It’s essential for the Congress to conduct its own assessment,” Sen. John McCain of Arizona said at a Wednesday morning press conference. “The American people deserve answers to … questions related to the Benghazi attack. Congress has a unique and constitutional role to play in getting to the truth of this matter, as well as compiling the lessons of this tragedy so it’s not repeated.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said that with “conspiracy theories running rampant,” the only way to avoid a “segmented, stovepipe investigation” was to have a select committee examine the matter, arguing that the congressional committees conducting their own hearings on the matter won’t hear what the others have to say.
Mr. Graham said that if people are uncomfortable with likening a select committee on Benghazi to one created after the Watergate scandal, he urged them to compare it to the 9/11 Commission or the Iraq Study group — studies conducted in the wake of shortcomings from a more recent Republican administration.
“I’ve been on the other side of this, when a Republican administration’s telling me everything’s fine when it’s not,” he said.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, said Wednesday that Gen. David Petraeus, who resigned his post as CIA director on Friday because of an extramarital affair, indicated his willingness to testify.
“He is very willing and interested in talking to the committee,” she said.
No date for his testimony has been set.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire echoed the sentiment that the only way to get the full story was through a select committee.
“We’ve got to do it so we can make sure that this never happens again,” Ms. Ayotte said.
When asked about the prospect of establishing a select committee this week, Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat and Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was cool on the idea.
“I don’t think we need a select committee,” Mr. Levin said. “There’s enough investigations going on right now.”
But Mr. McCain, the committee’s ranking member, pointed out that nobody died as a result of Watergate or, as another example, the Iran-Contra scandal during the 1980s.
“The party in power never likes to have a select committee, but I’m hopeful that the American people demand it,” he said.
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David Sherfinski covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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