Anticipating this evening’s House vote to create a 12-member select committee on Benghazi, conservative Republicans earlier in the day urged Democrats to help Americans get the truth about what occurred before, during and after the terrorist attack.
“This shouldn’t be a political event, this should be truly a search for the truth … in what happened in that case,” Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) said at today’s Conversations with Conservatives exchange with reporters and bloggers on Capitol Hill.
It was the White House, Labrador added, that “chose purposefully to mislead the American people” in September 2012 because officials there were “worried about the re-election of the president.”
“I think Democrats make a mistake if they boycott it,” Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said, referring to suggestions by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other leading Democrats that they might refuse to participate in the committee’s work. “If I were Ms. Pelosi, I’d make sure I got five good Democrats to put on that committee.”
“Our nation deserves better than yet another deeply partisan and political review,” Pelosi said yesterday. “It is clear that House Republicans will do anything to divert attention away from their failed leadership and do-nothing record.”
The panel of seven Republicans and five Democrats, to be chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), a former prosecutor, is an opportunity to bring together some of the “best minds” on the left and the right to pursue the facts, Labrador said. “It’s going to be very difficult for [Democrats] to look serious to the American people if they choose not to participate in the process,” he said.
The Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had resisted calls for a special committee for months in preference of standing committees with limited jurisdiction. Boehner announced a change of mind Friday after the release of documents showing members of the White House communications team conferred days later about depicting the deadly attack as the outgrowth of a protest over an anti-Islam video.
“I know the speaker doesn’t want this to turn into some sort of circus on TV,” Labrador said, predicting Boehner will pick “thoughtful, intelligent” members for the committee “who will do the right thing.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said the select committee would pursue answers to three main questions about events: why the State Department didn’t decide to upgrade security in Benghazi in response to increased threats in the Middle East; why military commanders decided not to “run to the sound of the guns” as the attack unfolded over hours; and who “started the narrative” blaming the YouTube video.
“There is one easy way for the administration to avoid the committee, [and that] is for the administration to tell us everything they know and answer those questions,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) said. “We just want the truth.”
Today’s two other participating congressmen, Steve King (R-Iowa) and John J. Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.), voiced similar perspectives.
“This White House chose purposefully to mislead the American people and as Representative King said, to mislead the Congress as to what happened,” Labrador said, adding:
They’re the ones who chose to make it political because they were worried about the re-election of the president. And instead of looking at giving the truth to the American people, they looked at giving a political spin job to the American people.
“Ultimately,” Barton said of Democrats’ claim of politics at work in the aftermath of Benghazi, “the judges are going to be the American people.”
This story, including the video produced by Steve Weyrich, is the work of The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.