Republicans weigh risks, benefits of select committee on Benghazi

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The Benghazi terrorist attack has stormed back onto the front pages, and as the attention grows, so do calls from House Republicans who want their party leaders to name a special investigative committee to take control of the inquiry.

More than 150 House Republicans have signed on to a resolution that would create a “select committee” to focus on inquiries by the public and Congress about the Sept. 11 attack in Libya that left four Americans dead.


SPECIAL COVERAGE: Benghazi Attack Under Microscope


Forty members of Congress in the past three weeks have joined the push for a single committee.

House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, has resisted — largely, analysts say, because the long-term political risks of a high-profile probe could outweigh any short-term benefit.

“This issue is not a sure-fire winner politically for the Republicans unless there is some bombshell that can be surfaced through a hearing in a select committee that has not already been surfaced by the multiple hearings that have been held so far,” said Christopher A. Preble, who has monitored the Benghazi scandal from his office at the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute.

“If you spend a lot of time and there’s no additional information that comes out through the process, then you have the appearance of having, at a minimum, wasted a lot of time on a fairly insignificant matter,” Mr. Preble said.

Wasting a lot of time, he said, means that the Republican focus on Benghazi “just might reflect poorly on the party” as the November 2014 congressional elections approach.

The latest Benghazi revelations — along with reaction to the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups and the controversy over the Justice Department’s seizure of reporters’ phone records — are dominating the news cycles.


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On Sunday, the White House dispatched Dan Pfeiffer to blitz the talk shows. The senior adviser defended the administration on several fronts, telling ABC’s “This Week” that Republicans owe an apology to U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice over their reactions to her initial remarks on Benghazi.

“The Republicans who had been talking about this, now that they’ve seen the emails, owe Ambassador Rice an apology for the things they’ve said about her in the wake of the attack,” he said.

On Fox News, he said the assertion that the Obama administration was not responsive during the Benghazi attack was “offensive.”

Republicans fired right back.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, told “Meet the Press” that the administration “made up a tale” about the attacks, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican, said a cover-up is continuing.

“People deserve the truth, and the families deserve the truth,” Mr. Chaffetz said, calling for more investigation.

Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican, is leading the House push to consolidate the investigations that are spread across five committees.

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About the Author
Guy Taylor

Guy Taylor

Guy Taylor is the National Security Team Leader at The Washington Times, overseeing the paper’s State Department, Pentagon and intelligence community coverage. He’s also a frequent guest on The McLaughlin Group and C-SPAN.

His series on political, economic and security developments in Mexico won a 2012 Virginia Press Association award.

Prior to rejoining The Times in 2011, his work was ...

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