By Jeremy Herb - 05/21/13 05:38 PM EDT
The House Armed Services Committee has remained somewhat out of the fray up to this point, as the focus has centered on the State Department and the administration’s talking points created after the attack, rather than the Pentagon.
The House panel was being briefed Tuesday by Garry Reid, principal deputy assistant secretary for special operations, and Maj. Gen. Darryl Roberson, vice director of operations for the Joint Staff.
Republicans have questioned why the military wasn’t better positioned to respond to the attacks in Benghazi last September, and have raised concerns over a “stand down” order given to a small group of special forces who were stationed in Tripoli.
Pentagon officials have said that there was no possible way for any forces to arrive in Benghazi in time to intervene, a point Smith reiterated Tuesday.
“That is a sad reality that the military would have faced under any President; it’s the tyranny of time and distance,” Smith said. “Instead of acknowledging this fact, Republicans have tried to turn this into a scandal worthy of impeachment even when the facts clearly do not support their accusations.”
House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week saying that “questions still remain regarding orders issued to a site security team that was in-country,” in reference to the team in Tripoli.
He asked for the commander officer of the team to be made available to the committee and reiterated his request to receive the Pentagon’s classified timeline of the attack, which was denied earlier this month.
McKeon and the committee’s Oversight subpanel Chairwoman Martha Roby (R-Ala.) will speak to reporters after Tuesday’s briefing.
— This story was updated at 2:54 p.m.