Washington • Last year’s deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, became a rallying cry for Republicans to criticize President Barack Obama during the contentious election.
Eight months later, Rep. Jason Chaffetz says the Obama administration is still trying to block an investigation into the incident where four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed.
“Look, at the end of the day, we’ve got four dead Americans,” the Utah Republican said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’ve got a kid who’s still in the hospital. We’ve got hundreds of embassies and consulates, we’ve got thousands of people serving overseas. We haven’t had the truth ... months after the incident.”
Chaffetz, who flew to Libya a couple of weeks after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack and chairs a subcommittee on foreign operations, is leading the charge among Republicans to probe further into the Obama administration’s response to the assault and subsequent deaths.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday with three witnesses to the consulate attack and excerpts released this week show the officials didn’t believe security was beefed up enough and that the White House misled Americans on the facts.
Chaffetz says more State Department officials want to testify but are afraid of “retribution” for doing so.
“They’re scared to death of what the State Department is doing to them,” Chaffetz said on the Sunday program. “Every single turn, the State Department and White House has impeded this investigation. It’s why it’s continued to go on so long. There are other people on the ground with firsthand knowledge that want to testify, and I think will testify at some point.”
The GOP-led Benghazi investigations have fired up the Republican base and continues to every time new details drip out. Be it tarnishing the Obama White House, or tripping up Hillary Clinton’s potential 2016 campaign, the issue works for Chaffetz.
“The more that Congressman Chaffetz keeps a steady drum beat on this, the possibility grows that something breaks, more information breaks free over time,” says Republican consultant Ron Bonjean. “He’ll likely get the credit for staying on top of an important national security matter.”
Moreover, a Republican Oversight Committee member can do no wrong with raising questions about the Obama administration, Bonjean adds.
On the other side, Democrats say their counterparts are playing straight up politics with their one-sided probe and note that House Republicans voted against giving additional funds for embassy security.
A review board headed by a former ambassador and a retired admiral interviewed more than 100 witnesses and said there was no breech of duty, argues Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass.
“They made a determination that the critical element here was that host country forces committed to protecting the consulate in Benghazi walked off the job basically, and that created, you know, a security profile that was totally insufficient on September 11th,” Lynch said on “Fox News Sunday.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney noted last week that “Benghazi happened a long time ago” and bristled at the accusations that the White House or State Department were blocking anyone from coming forward about the attacks.
“We have had numerous hearings, numerous — I mean vast numbers of documents, vast numbers of individuals who have testified before Congress, and anybody who wants to be heard by Congress is welcome to be heard by Congress, in our view,” Carney said Friday. “And that has been our approach, our cooperative approach to this matter and to this investigation from the beginning.”