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Dems open door to taking part in Benghazi probe

By Bradley Klapper and Donna Cassata

WASHINGTON (AP) - House Democrats opened the door Tuesday to participating in a special panel's investigation of the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, even if they see it as little more than an election-year ploy by Republicans to discredit the Obama administration and motivate GOP voters.

Laying out her party's conditions, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Republicans must conduct interviews and share information as part of their new inquest into the Obama administration's response to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic past that killed four Americans. She called for the same number of Democrats as Republicans on the panel, a demand the GOP majority immediately rejected.

"If this review is to be fair, it must be truly bipartisan," Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement. Later, she told reporters that rank-and-file Democrats are "suspicious of whatever the Republicans are trying to do."

With midterm elections looming closer, Republicans are sharpening their focus on the Benghazi attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. A vote to authorize the probe is expected this week. A senior GOP congressman has issued a subpoena to Secretary of State John Kerry to testify before a separate committee. And the subject could surface in multiple other congressional hearings this week.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, unveiled his plan Tuesday night and said it would entail no time constraint on the select panel, whose establishment is all but a formality in the GOP-controlled House.

Earlier, the congressman chosen by Boehner to head the investigation, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said Democrats wouldn't get the same number of seats - and votes - on the committee.

"Look, we're in the majority for a reason. We have more seats in the House," said Gowdy, a second-term congressman and a former prosecutor. He called Pelosi's comments a "good sign" that she is considering Democratic participation.

Republicans want a 7-5 ratio on the committee. A House vote on a resolution to establish the panel is expected on Thursday.

Twenty months since the attack, Republicans have made Benghazi a central plank of their strategy to win control of the Senate in November's elections. Democrats are in a bind. They don't want their presence to provide credibility to what they believe will be a partisan forum for attacks on the president and his top aides. But boycotting the committee would mean losing the ability to counter Republican claims.

In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Gowdy said his record in Congress shows he is fair and respectful of Democratic committee members. He said he frequently discusses witnesses before scheduling hearings and tries to "have a good working relationship with everyone." He said he was interested in the truth, not politics. "Facts really don't come with a color," he said. "They're not swing state facts."

Republicans say the White House, concerned primarily with protecting President Barack Obama in the final weeks of his re-election campaign, misled the nation by playing down intelligence suggesting Benghazi was a major, al-Qaida-linked terrorist attack. They accuse the administration of stonewalling congressional investigators ever since, pointing specifically to emails written by U.S. officials in the days after the attack but only released last week.

The administration denies any wrongdoing and says officials tried to provide the public with the best information available. Democrats accuse the Republicans of trying to generate a scandal to drum up political support ahead of the midterm elections, and to target former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the presumed front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

Democrats controlling the Senate have shown no interest in launching a similar probe. And up to now, House Democrats have criticized the effort as partisan and unnecessary given several ongoing investigations in Congress, without clearly stating whether they'd participate in or boycott the select committee. White House spokesman Jay Carney has been similarly vague, saying Monday the administration cooperates with "legitimate" congressional oversight.

A select committee isn't bound by jurisdictional issues that can limit investigations by armed services, foreign relations, oversight or other standing committees.

Much of the Democratic concern over process reflects more than a year of tensions in the House Oversight Committee, which has taken the lead among all the congressional investigations into Benghazi.

Its chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and the State Department are engaged in an ongoing dispute over a subpoena he issued for Kerry to appear before the panel on May 21. A Kerry spokeswoman said Monday the secretary of state has a scheduled trip to Mexico that day and wouldn't appear before Issa's committee. Kerry said Tuesday he'd comply with his responsibilities and that his department has "absolutely nothing to hide."

Meanwhile, Judicial Watch, which last week released a batch of Benghazi-related emails obtained through a lawsuit, said Tuesday the Obama administration was withholding further correspondence pertaining to its early explanation of the attack as a demonstration hijacked by extremists. The administration later retracted that explanation. The watchdog group said the correspondence largely centered on how to respond to members of Congress seeking clarification.

Join the discussion

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danielisticall May 07 2014 at 9:49 AM

“One of the biggest myths Republicans have spread is the idea that Democrats are weak on terror. Specifically, they have claimed that Bin Laden and the Taliban were able to carry out the devastating 9/11 attacks because Bill Clinton did nothing to stop Bin Laden.It was a classic and manipulative Republican tactic: state some facts, leave out key details, and then make an emotional and misleading insinuation that simply can't be argued against or for it.What the GOP conveniently leaves out is the FACT that more terror suspects were convicted during Clinton's administration before 9/11 than were convicted in Bush's reign after 9/11.The Clinton/Gore administration went after Bin Laden right up to point of Bush entered the White House and had the Bush administration taken national security briefings from the Clinton anti-terror team seriously, the Twin Towers might still be standing.”

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2 replies
Franco danielisticall May 07 2014 at 9:54 AM

They are weak on crime. :O(

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Hello Beautiful danielisticall May 07 2014 at 10:04 AM

And the terrorist were training, all along, under WHO"S administration prior to 9/11? They did not plan it over night. BOOM.

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acmeme May 07 2014 at 9:37 AM

All of Hitlers men alaways backed him up!!!

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danielisticall May 07 2014 at 9:37 AM


Benghazi Attack: U.S. Special Forces Team Stopped From Going To Libya, Former Diplomat Gregory Hicks Claims
Meanwhile, a second team was preparing to leave on a Libyan C-130 cargo plane from Tripoli to Benghazi when Hicks said he learned from the Libyan prime minister that Stevens was dead. The Libyan military agreed to transport additional personnel as reinforcements to Benghazi on its cargo plane, but Hicks complained the special forces were told not to make the trip.
Gregory Hicks, a former diplomat in Tripoli at the time of the attack, told a House panel that the unit was told to stand down.
Dempsey said that was not the case.
"They weren't told to stand down. A `stand down' means don't do anything," he said. "They were told that the mission they were asked to perform was not in Benghazi, but was at Tripoli airport."

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1 reply
JRivers danielisticall May 07 2014 at 9:44 AM

And you think that exhonerates the Obama administration? Your story supports the need for further investigation.

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1 reply
rmg21943 JRivers May 07 2014 at 9:56 AM

The fact there was no STAND DOWN order and no cover-up exonerates the
Obama administration. Every committee has stated that! Republican and Democrat!
And the IRB!

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twalsh4440 May 07 2014 at 9:36 AM


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boyle1034 May 07 2014 at 9:35 AM

If the feminist movement wants a poster child as to why woman are incapable of
commanding sincere respect for high level involvement in serious human endeavor one Nancy Pelosi in the Triple Crown Winner.

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1 reply
sargeantsamson boyle1034 May 07 2014 at 9:56 AM

That's a tough one! That old lying hag Hillary is giving her a good run for the money!!!!

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jandjhoye May 07 2014 at 9:35 AM


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1 reply
Mark jandjhoye May 07 2014 at 9:37 AM

who is barry?

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nflamingo May 07 2014 at 9:34 AM

The American people know there is more to what happened and it was handled....now to get the TRUTH (good luck with that), since we have been lied too for so very long. I for one am tired of lies and promises by this administration.

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rasboy5 May 07 2014 at 9:34 AM

4 American citizen's slaughtered,like dog's well some people just don't care, 20 month's of lies, but by your post I guess you think it's Bush's fault.

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2 replies
Gerrie rasboy5 May 07 2014 at 9:35 AM

what do you mean by "don't care"?

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danielisticall rasboy5 May 07 2014 at 9:37 AM

US Embassy and Consulate Attacks Under George Bush

Jan 22, 2002 US Consulate at Kolkata - 5 killed
Jun 14, 2002 US Consulate at Karachi - 12 killed
Feb 28, 2003 US Embassy at Islamabad - 2 killed
Jun 30, 2003 US Embassy at Tashkent - 2 killed
Dec 06, 2004 US Compound at Saudi Arabia - 9 killed
Mar 02, 2006 US Consulate at Karachi - 2 killed
Sep 12, 2006 US Embassy at Syria - 4 killed
Mar 18, 2008 US Embassy at Yemen - 2 killed
Jul 09, 2008 US Consulate at Istanbul - 6 killed
Sep 17, 2008 US Embassy at Yemen - 16 killed

Total - 60 Deaths

Outraged Republicans = 0

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John T's Voodoo May 07 2014 at 9:32 AM

From the woman who said pass the bill and then we will read it. Can't believe the Californians keep re-electing her. She doesn't know what bi-partisan means.

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James M. Adams May 07 2014 at 9:32 AM

If it's all a Republican witch hunt, about nothing in particular, Dems should be eager to show up Boehner, etc., right?

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