House Speaker John A. Boehner called on President Obama to release unclassified emails that apparently show the State Department knew more than it let on following the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead.
A day after a blockbuster House hearing on the administration's handling of the attack, Mr. Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill that this is the administration's chance to clear up some of the lingering questions about when it learned that the attacks were indeed "conducted by Islamic terrorists."
The Ohio Republican also said that the emails undercut the White House's claim that it made "stylistic" changes to the Sunday show "talking points" that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice articulated four days later when she said the attack was a spontaneous response to an anti-Islam video.
"Our committees' interim report quotes specific emails where the White House and State Department insist on removing all references to a terrorist attack to protect the State Department from criticism for providing inadequate security," Mr. Boehner said.
The demand comes after Gregory N. Hicks, deputy chief of mission in Tripoli, told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Wednesday that he was "stunned" to hear Ms. Rice say the attack was sparked by an anti-Islamic video produced in the United States.
"My jaw dropped, and I was embarrassed," Mr. Hicks said.
Mr. Hicks also said that Mrs. Rice never consulted with him before she went on the television talk show circuit to explain what the White House knew about what happened.
Mr. Boehner said that the Obama administration can come clean about what it knew by releasing the unclassified material.
"Last November, the president said he was 'happy to cooperate in any way Congress wants.' This is his chance," Mr. Boehner said. "The truth shouldn't be hidden from the American people behind a White House firewall. Four Americans lost their lives in this terrorist attack. Congress will continue to investigate this issue, using all of the resources at our disposal."
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