A bipartisan poll finds that most Americans now support a special congressional committee to investigate events surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
Among likely voters polled, 62 percent say “it is important” for Congress to establish a single committee to address unanswered questions about the attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, according to pollsters John McLaughlin, a Republican, and Pat Caddell, a Democrat.
More than 80 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of independents support the creation of a special panel to assess security levels before the attack and to hold accountable any Obama administration officials who might have covered up failures to maintain those levels.
Nearly half of Democrats, along with 89 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of independents, don’t believe the administration “has been honest and forthcoming” about the Benghazi attack, the poll found.
The poll, released by SecureAmericaNow.org, was conducted late last month with 600 likely general election voters. The pollsters said the margin of error was 4 percentage points.
Rep. Frank R. Wolf, the Virginia Republican who has led the push for a special committee, said the poll “clearly shows the American people are upset with the current state of congressional investigations into the terrorist attack in Benghazi.” But House Republican leaders have resisted the idea of a special panel.
Susan Phalen, a spokeswoman for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, defended the work of the five House committees that have looked at aspects of the Benghazi scandal. The arrangement, she said, has allowed each panel to focus on its area of expertise.
“A new select committee would likely be a duplication of efforts that would yield little, if any, new information, while being time-consuming and expensive,” she said.
The five committees in the Republican-led House found that Hillary Rodham Clinton, as secretary of state, approved reduced security at the U.S. facilities before the attack, in contradiction to her testimony Jan. 23 before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The committees also faulted the White House and the State Department for altering “talking points” approved by the intelligence community to insulate officials from being held responsible.
Mr. Wolf’s resolution to establish a special committee has 177 co-sponsors and the support of the American Legion, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the special operations community and family members of the Benghazi victims. One concern, sources say, are media reports that survivors of the attack have been made to sign nondisclosure agreements and have been subjected to monthly polygraphs.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the poll underscored what he said was the ineffectiveness of the Republican-led investigations into the Benghazi incident.
“The Benghazi investigation has been conducted by five House committees and coordinated directly by [House Speaker John A.] Boehner and Majority Leader [Eric] Cantor,” said Mr. Cummings. “This poll is a wholesale rebuke of their efforts and even more evidence of Republicans fighting amongst themselves.”
Advocates for a special committee investigation also want the FBI to have more access to countries with Benghazi suspects, and to know more about the role of the CIA security team in the city the night of the attack, including whether the U.S. was transporting weapons from Libya to aid rebels in Syria at the time.
Mr. Wolf said the poll “demonstrates why a select committee is needed now more than ever.”
Added Scott Taylor, former Navy SEAL and president of the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for protection of national intelligence assets, “We don’t need disjointed efforts but a pooling of resources under one flag. When the American public is still calling for answers this far from when [Benghazi] happened, it tells you there is a need to focus and align resources to provide those answers.”