Democrats may have agreed to participate in the Benghazi probe, but they’re not exactly treating it as a legitimate pursuit.
From carping about the cost to complaining every time another panel reaches conclusions about the attack, Democrats still aren’t acting like willing investigators and call the probe part of a frivolous House GOP agenda.
Democrats on the panel released a memo Tuesday on a recently completed two-year investigation by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that they say clears the Obama administration of “deliberate” wrongdoing in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on a U.S. compound in Libya.
“But that hasn’t deterred [House Speaker John A.] Boehner and House Republicans from spending over $3 million on a new committee to reinvestigate the Benghazi attacks,” the memo reads.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat and a member of the Benghazi panel, said the report reaches the same “noncontroversial conclusions” that other committees have, such as the fact that conflicting intelligence assessments, and not politics, led to debunked administration talking points that the attack arose from an anti-Muslim video.
“This bipartisan report should be declassified quickly, so that the American people may know what we have learned behind closed doors, and how it concurs with other analysis already made public,” said Mr. Schiff, who is also a member of the intelligence committee.
Democratic leaders have consistently lumped the new Benghazi probe in with other pieces of what they call a Republican agenda out of touch with the American people.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said last week on the House floor that a lawsuit over President Obama’s executive authority “is yet another Republican effort to pander to the most radical right-wing voters at taxpayers’ expense: $2.3 million spent defending [the Defense of Marriage Act] — a doomed case; more than $3 million on the Select Committee to exploit Benghazi — and by the way, something that had been investigated again and again, at the very admission of leaders on the Republican side.”
Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, initially resisted calls to appoint a special panel, saying the issue should be investigated by the House’s relevant committees of jurisdiction.
But he said in May that the White House’s stonewalling congressional investigators and its evolving explanation for why administration officials had falsely blamed the attack on the anti-Muslim video necessitated a special panel.
Democrats’ protests notwithstanding, both sides of the 12-member panel are finishing up hiring staff ahead of the committee’s first scheduled public hearing next month and work has been proceeding behind the scenes.
Members met last week with family members of the Americans killed in the attack and have also received classified briefings to view surveillance from the night of the attack and receive information about Ahmed Abu Khattala, the accused mastermind of the assault.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican and the committee chairman, has also traded praise with ranking member Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, on how each of them is approaching his respective role. Mr. Gowdy said recently that despite Democrats’ publicly denouncing the effort, they are participating, if begrudgingly.
“The initial efforts to marginalize us as just a political exercise dedicated to drumming up the base, those efforts were not successful,” Mr. Gowdy told Fox News. “Democrats are not only cooperating, they are suggesting, in some instances, other ideas for hearings.”