The White House accused Republicans of a political distraction Wednesday after House committee chairmen asked President Obama to release a State Department cable that they said would prove Hillary Rodham Clinton, as secretary off state, signed off on security cuts at the diplomatic post in Benghazi ahead of the attack Sept. 11.
According to the committee chairmen, the April 2012 Clinton cable denies the U.S. Embassy in Libya’s request for more security. Five months later, the outpost in Benghazi was attacked and four Americans were killed, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
“An April 19, 2012, cable bearing Secretary Clinton’s signature acknowledged requests for additional security, but nevertheless ordered the withdrawal of security assets to proceed as planned,” the chairmen of five House committees wrote in a letter to Mr. Obama.
“Given the gravity of this issue, we request that you immediately make the April 19, 2012, State Department cable public.”
He accused the Republicans of trying to “stoke a false controversy.”
Mrs. Clinton resigned as secretary of state this year, but political analysts say she could make another run for the White House in 2016. If she does, questions about her role in Benghazi are sure to dog her.
Officials in Libya made repeated requests for more security and reported to headquarters that the situation was deteriorating in Benghazi. The British Embassy, the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross withdrew their personnel from Benghazi.
Mrs. Clinton has testified that she never saw the requests for more security and that subordinates made decisions to reduce protection.
But in an interim report released Tuesday, the chairmen of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Judiciary Committee, the Armed Services Committee, the Oversight & Government Reform Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee said the evidence shows otherwise.
The chairmen cleared the intelligence community of blame, saying it gave plenty of warning that an attack could happen. The chairmen also cleared the Pentagon, saying the military did what it could to respond, but it was limited.
“The report demonstrates that reductions in security levels prior to the attacks were approved at the highest levels of the State Department,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Edward R. Royce, California Republican, said Wednesday. “The report also finds that in the days after the attacks, White House and senior State Department officials altered accurate talking points drafted by the intelligence community in order to cover up the State Department’s responsibility for this disaster.”
Mr. Carney said the administration is focused on trying to track down those who orchestrated the attack.
He said the House “efforts to politicize this have failed in the past and are not helpful to the broad national security efforts we share.”